Austin tees up new city golf course plan

AUSTIN (KXAN) –As Austin’s population booms, the demand for public golf courses is growing, too.

The city’s Golf Division with the Parks and Recreation Department estimates that 12 percent of the population golfs.

With demand for affordable golf courses on the rise, a proposal has been put forth to build the city’s seventh golf course at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.

That’s located in eastern Travis County near the Travis County Expo Center and State Highway 130.

Most of the 3,000-acre park is fenced off and unused. It was established in the early 1960s to form a lake to generate power for the nearby power plant. The lake is also used for fishing and some of the grounds for camping.

But the reason most of the park goes unused is because it’s heavily wooded.

A 700-acre section on the northeastern corner has been designated an area for a golf course – an idea that has been tossed around as long as the park has been established.

The reason it’s never been built is finances.

City officials hope to find a developer who wants form a partnership to build the course and foot the projected $20 million bill.

“It would mean there would be no impact tax base-wise. It would not impact their finances from the city and issue bonds which is typically how we make improvements like this,” said Kevin Gomillion, COA Golf Division manager.

While a lot of trees would have to come down in order to construct a golf course, the idea is to build one that incorporates much of the natural surroundings.

“They will have to maintain what is considered an Audubon certified golf course and they are making sure they protect the trees in that space.” said Gomillion.

The hope is with the toll road near the park, a golf course would end up bringing more development.

“Golf courses bring in lots of other types of activities like motels, hotels, restaurants so we are encouraged to find a developer who would lead that effort,” said Gomillion.

The public is invited to the Turner Roberts Recreation Center Tuesday at 6:30p.m. to talk about what they would like in a new golf course.

The city will then gather proposals from developers until July and present the best options to city council come September.

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