Ownership of the historic Lions Municipal Golf Course might soon be transferred from its longstanding ward, the University of Texas system, to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.
According to the daily, the Texas Senate voted 21-10 Tuesday to transfer ownership of the course, and a “warm reception” to the bill (SB 822) is expected from the state House of Representatives as well.
The fate of the West Austin golf course, which is operated by the city, has been in question since 2009, when UT commissioned plans to develop the 141-acre plot along Lake Austin Boulevard—part of what’s known as the Brackenridge Tract—for commercial and residential use.
The course's history as leader in desegregating Southern golf courses has landed it on numerous historic-site lists, due largely to the sustained efforts of the Save Muny group.T he state Historical Commission awarded it a historical marker in 2009; it was added to the National Parks Service’s Register of Historic Places in June and to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 list of 11 Most Endangered Places shortly thereafter.
According to the Statesman, the bill’s author, Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, said Lions Municipal’s role in history called for its remaining a golf course. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, whose district includes Muny, voted against the bill, the paper reported, stating that he supports preserving the course, but that city control would produce the best long-term outcome for the tract.
Based on UT System official’s statement from a few years ago, the Statesman recently estimated that the land could garner $5.9 million a year or more if leased for a mixed-use development.