The fight to save Lions Municipal Golf Course—or “Muny”—has gone national, according to a Wednesday story in the Austin-American Statesman. U.S. Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina), James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) have thrown their support behind the effort to include the course in the National Register of Historic Places because of the early role it played in desegregation in the South.
For years, a group called Save Muny has opposed development of the 141-acre parcel of land, which runs along Lake Austin Boulevard and is now extremely valuable. The course is part of the larger Brackenridge tract, owned by the University of Texas and leased to city for a few hundred dollars per year. The lease expires in 2019.
Citing the course's history as leader in desegregating Southern golf courses in the 1950s—which it did by simply allowing African-American golfers to play on the course, long before desegregation was mandated in the region—the city, Save Muny, the Texas Historical Commission advisory committee, and the United States Golf Association have all called for Lions' preservation. The state Historical Commission awarded it a historical marker in 2009.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents, eyeing the millions of dollars to be made if it leased the land for development, wants the registry to include only a small portion of the course.
According to the Statesman, the three U.S. Congress members conveyed their support for nomination of the entire course in letters to Stephanie Toothman, the National Park Service’s keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), Austin Mayor Steve Adler, David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church senior pastor Joseph C. Parker Jr., and NAACP Austin branch president Nelson Linder, among other leaders, have all called for Muny’s listing and preservation in the past, the Statesman reported.
Being listed in the National Registry would not in itself preclude the course from being developed into something else, but any development would likely have to be reviewed by historical regulatory bodies before such projects were permitted.
• City Backs Lions Golf Course Historic Designation [Curbed Austin]
• Civil Rights History Might Make Lions Course a Landmark [Curbed Austin]