Waterloo Disc Golf Club Very Dissatisfied With the City

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2011

Dear Editor,
    The Waterloo Disc Golf Club wants to inform you of our interaction with the city of Austin. It’s a story of broken promises, backroom decisions, and an emerging policy of converting parkland to preserves.
    Early last year, we were told by the city that the Pease Park disc golf course would soon be closing. After a public meeting on the closure, the city realized the demand for the recreational activity, and promised that the closure would wait until a replacement course was available. That promise was broken in December when, without any new course available, the city abruptly closed the disc golf course at Pease. We were then told that the city was working on a replacement course at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park and that it would be ready by June 2011. We now realize this was another hollow promise as the city now plans to “study” the issue for 12 months and then, presumably, make more promises.
    The most frustrating part of the process is not losing a course, but trying to work with a city whose word means nothing and who conducts business in the shadows. While the Parks and Recreation Department director has been the voice for the city, no one really believes that a PARD director on her own volition would make a promise to the community, break it, make another promise, and then break it also. This direction must come from the mayor and/or council who make these decisions outside any visible public process, relay the decision to PARD, and then let PARD play the heavy.
    Besides the lack of transparency, the city decisions form a trend where parks are used for preserves, and not for recreational activity. The Pease decision effectively took recreational land and turned it into a preserve. The Roy G. Guerrero tract appears to be following the same trend as the city has now decided that the highest use for their $4 million tract is as a preserve. This decision was made despite the fact that the park already has a tract dedicated as a preserve.
    We understand the desire to leave parkland undisturbed, but we feel the city has failed to strike any reasonable balance between recreation and preserves. Austin probably leads the nation in preserved land. Is this really our highest need going forward? Parks should also be for recreation.
Gordon Maxim-Kelly
Waterloo Disc Golf Club
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