Parks department opposes development of Hancock Golf Course


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

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Posted on August 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 10:54 AM

AUSTIN -- Some residents who live near the Hancock Golf Course in Central Austin are fighting a proposal urging the city to sell it so the land can be developed. The mediation company that proposed the idea is presenting its plan at City Hall, where Austin's parks board is meeting Tuesday night. 

According to Jesse Vargas with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the idea is unsolicited, but per-policy, they allow people to pitch ideas.

"At this point in time, the Parks and Recreation Department is opposed to the proposal based on a public engagement process we took about a year ago," said Vargas.

The department made it clear to the mediator they were opposed to the proposal, and that if he presented it to the board Tuesday night, there would also be concerned residents in attendance.

KVUE spoke with golfers at Hancock about the idea of developing the golf course. Austin Gillis, who plays there about twice a month, says "It would be terrible; it would be the same idea as taking the the river space downtown by Lady Bird Lake. It's the last green area in the city."

He says he gets a golf cart and nine holes for under twenty bucks. However Jim Huddleston, the mediator presenting the development plan of 55 to 60 single family homes and three acres of commercial space with park space, says the golf course is costing the city an opportunity. 

"This is a potentially beautiful piece of the city, and it's just dormant," says Huddleston. "It's not really a park, but it could be."

"This golf course is the oldest golf course West of the Mississippi," says Carolyn Palaima, president of the Hancock Neighborhood Association. 

She's working on getting historical designation for the golf course and is concerned that after all the neighborhood work to help restore the course,  the parks department would allow the development presentation.

"We certainly don't want to discourage private citizens from bringing forward proposals," Vargas says.