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Kitchen opposes soccer stadium at Butler Park

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by Chad Swiatecki

Count Council Member Ann Kitchen as one vote against any proposal to redevelop the city’s Butler Park property into a stadium for a proposed Major League Soccer team. In a letter to constituents sent out Monday, Kitchen outlined her reasons – traffic, noise and possible stress on the area during Austin City Limits Festival among them – why she won’t support the use of parkland along Lady Bird Lake.

This week the council is expected to receive a report from staff on possible public and private sites in Austin that could accommodate a stadium to hold up to 20,000 fans. The letter also said Kitchen will suggest pulling an agenda item for Thursday’s meeting calling for discussion and possible action related to the report on the soccer stadium.

The letter, in whole (slightly edited to incorporate the link to the agenda item backup):

Dear Neighbors –

I’ve received many emails regarding the Major League Soccer stadium proposal and want to provide you all with an update on where we are in process and reiterate, while the idea of a soccer stadium is an exciting opportunity for Austin – I strongly assert it must be located in the right place.

There are a number of concerns I share with many of you regarding the initial suggestion for the Butler Shores location. That location is not the right place for many reasons. Extreme concentrated traffic impacts, challenging and limited access, stadium lighting and noise on the Barton Place condos as well as Zilker Park, surrounding neighborhood, and park land would add to an already overburdened area (given the impacts of ACL and other events for example).

The resolution passed in November directed the City Manager to identify city-owned sites and to include underutilized parkland for a Major League Soccer stadium and practice fields. The report back item is posted for this Thursday’s Council meeting as Item 92. Council is expected to discuss the item at work session on Tuesday, but unfortunately staff’s report will not be released until Wednesday.

This is no way to proceed on such a major council action that could involve the use of some of our City’s public parkland and particularly prime parkland along Lady Bird Lake. Any action must be thoroughly reviewed and must look for opportunities to increase access to parkland for our increasing population, not diminish access.

I will be advocating for the item to be removed from Council’s Thursday agenda at Tuesday’s work session. We will not have benefit of staff’s report in time for that discussion and a single day prior to Thursday’s meeting is simply not sufficient. If the item moves forward to Thursday, I will continue to argue for more time and exploration of opportunities to provide the public and Council the time that should and needs to be provided for such a major project.

To date the soccer interest, Precourt, is acting on its own – the city has not suggested or sanctioned or participated in any drawings of a stadium. Nor has city council approved the Butler Shores location or considered any location for that matter. The only action Council has taken is to direct the staff to create a list of all potential locations within the entire city – private land as well as public land.

You can count on me to oppose the Butler Shores location; to ensure that the public is involved in discussion of any location; and to properly vet any proposals.

Best Regards,

Ann Kitchen
District 5

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