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No progress at committee on Decker Golf proposal

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 by Jo Clifton

Those interested in progress on the proposed license agreement between the city and Decker Lake Golf LLC for the development and management of a world-class golf course at Walter E. Long Lake were probably disappointed in the outcome of Monday’s meeting of the City Council Committee on Economic Development.

Committee Chair Ellen Troxclair told Economic Development Director Kevin Johns and Deputy Director Rodney Gonzales that the committee would continue asking questions at its next meeting April 13.

Council Members Greg Casar and Leslie Pool, who are also on the committee, said they still have questions and would welcome information from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department next month. The other member of the committee, Council Member Ora Houston, has already indicated her strong support for the project, which is in her district.

The discussion about the proposed golf course on parkland came at the end of the meeting, which was devoted to the topic of economic development in East Austin.

Pool, who is chair of the Open Space, Environment and Sustainability Committee — which will also discuss the golf course proposal — has made clear that she is not comfortable with the proposed license agreement.

At Monday’s meeting, Pool said she was “extremely distraught” about the idea of the city signing the agreement without going to voters for their approval. Voters turned down a somewhat similar proposal in 2000.

Pool said she would like information on how other cities deal with licensing and leasing parkland. Gonzales said he could bring the information back to the committee next month.

Troxclair also said that she was getting questions from constituents about whether the city should lease the property rather than enter into the license agreement. Under state law, the city cannot lease park property unless it receives voter approval. However, it can enter into a license agreement.

Casar asked Gonzales if he could provide the value of the property if leased. Gonzales told him that comparing the license agreement with leasing the property for some other purpose would be like comparing “apples and oranges.”

In addition to the discussion about Decker Lake Golf LLC, the committee heard information about the Economic Development Department’s efforts to deal with what Johns called Austin’s “huge challenge,” income segregation. Johns and Gonzales talked about the possibility of encouraging industrial growth south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport between I-35 and SH 130.

This is the first meeting of the economic development committee about East Austin, no doubt, it will also be a favorite topic in the future.



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