Fight brewing over Muny?

Lions Municipal Course

UT has tired of the Frank Erwin Center and wants to build a new arena, somewhere between MLK and Dean Keeton. There’s just one complication: Red River Street.

The university is hoping to get Red River out of the way by moving it west. Fortunately, the city has long aspired to realign Red River, as this memo from city transportation staff explains:

Red River Street is a major thoroughfare from downtown Austin to north of the University and has been the subject of various planning documents. Realignment has been incorporated into the University Campus Master Plan, the UT Austin Medical District Plan, and the draft Austin Strategic Mobility Plan that is now under development. Central Health is in the process of redeveloping its campus between East 12th Street and East 15th Street. The University will be a major tenant of the redeveloped campus. City staff believes that realigning and straightening Red River Street between East 12th Street and East 32nd Street provides for improved transit connectivity. 

Since UT is eager to get the project underway (as soon as this summer), the city is happy to forfeit the right-of-way to UT in exchange for something. And that something is…Lions Municipal Golf Course!

The City and the University have discussed the possibility that the University would also construct those portions of Red River Street, the terms and conditions of which continue to be under discussion. If the City funds any portion of the design or construction of the roadway, the University will credit an amount agreed to by the parties toward the possible purchase of Lions Municipal Golf Course or to other agreed upon projects.

This issue was brought up at Council work session and the five urbanists (Harper-Madison, Garza, Casar, Renteria, Flannigan) all signaled various levels of concern about trading Red River for Muny. At this point, most of them are sticking to procedural arguments, saying they would like to be presented more potential options.

I don’t anticipate that any CMs will say what many urbanist activists are saying: that a piece of prime real estate just west of MoPac should not be used as a golf course, period. However, when I talked to Garza shortly after the meeting she hinted that she is unwilling to “spend a significant amount of resources on a golf course.”

This is very interesting. I have no idea how this will be resolved.

There are likely three CMs (Alter, Tovo, Pool) who want to “Save Muny.” Alter did say, however, that she could envision a scenario where the land is opened up to other recreational uses besides golf. She also mentioned that the mayor has been working with her on the issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adler has heard from friends in Tarrytown who really want to preserve Muny as a golf course, but I can’t imagine that that’s the cause he wants to dedicate an enormous amount of his political capital to, especially considering the resistance he’ll get from the forces that just won the election.

My guess is that he’s seeking some type of compromise where part of it is preserved as green/park space (not necessarily a golf course) but UT gets to sell off some of it to private development.

Of course, a lot of this comes down to Ellis and Kitchen, whose positions on this issue I can’t predict.

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