Report on Parks Board meeting regarding future of the Hancock Golf Course

Written by Emily H. Schwartz

The atmosphere was tense in the Boards and Commissions Room of Austin City Hall on August 27th as an overflow crowd gathered for a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board.  On the agenda was a proposal for residential and commercial development of the land that is now Hancock Golf Course.  The developers’ position was, “The Hancock Golf Course is obsolete.” Seeing the assembled crowd, the Board put the issue at the top of the agenda. Before any discussion of the proposal took place, Board member Hill Abell moved that the Board would not consider this topic.  The motion passed unanimously.  The developers’ representative had prepared a presentation on the proposed plan, but he was not given the opportunity to deliver it.

After the vote, citizens who had signed up to speak were allowed a few minutes to address the Board. No one favored privatization of the park.  I pointed out that Hancock is the largest city park in Central Austin north of the river.  Finally, the developers’ representative spoke. Flustered, obviously unprepared for the hostile atmosphere in which he found himself, he explained that this was only a proposal.  In effect, he backed down.

This threat to the park brought together supporters of the golf course and of the Hancock Recreation Center, as well as those favoring a multipurpose park on the site.  The meeting clearly demonstrated that residents do not want to lose that open green space, regardless of what they think is the best use of the land.

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