The battle over Lions Municipal Golf Course and the entire Brackenridge Tract is shaping up to be one in which the scrappy neighbors, students, biology nerds, and hometown kids find themselves up against developers and powerful college regents. Which will it be – the caddies or the country club?
UT Board of Regents: This group of 10 is calling the shots for the university. It's already completed its own task force report on the land – making the case for more profitable redevelopment – and has since hired New York consultants Cooper, Robertson & Partners to devise a master plan for the tract.
Pike Powers: Corporate kingmaker, civic leader, the Alabama Slamma. Call Powers what you will, just don't call him irrelevant. With Powers joining the Kite-Bechtol redevelopment proposal, local power brokers are taking the unsolicited proposal seriously.
Tom Kite: Texas ex, World Golf Hall of Famer, golf course designer, and major brand name. He believes redesigning and developing Lions is the only way to keep golf close to Downtown.
Roy Bechtol: You can't blame a golf course designer for spotting a golden opportunity. Bechtol has been in the lucrative biz for 10 years and is a buddy of Kite's.
Mary Arnold: The battle-scarred environmentalist is a savvy veteran of two previous fights to Save Muny. She commands considerable respect, knows how to deal tactfully with all the interested parties, and knows what levers to pull at City Hall.
Ben Crenshaw: Texas ex and World Golf Hall of Famer has been cast by default as hometown hero vs. the Bechtol group's developer villains. An outspoken proponent of affordable golf and Lions, he learned to play the game at the old Muny, and his wallet won't swell whether it stays or goes.
Happy Harris: West Austin Neighborhood Group president-elect. It's going to be up to Harris and company to mobilize and organize the "area residents" of West Austin.
Betty Dunkerley: Former mayor pro tem made a strong stand in favor of Lions and could be a vital asset to those looking for a city-based solution to the golf course's future.
Larry Gilbert: Director of UT's biology field lab at Brack. He's been at the helm of faculty and student efforts to keep the lab open and on its current plot. His decades of research focus on long-term patterns of animal species.
WAYA: The safe money says West Austin Youth Association sticks around in some shape or another. For the children ... of course.
Cooper, Robertson & Partners: The New York consultant firm has navigated touchy university developments before, involving MIT and Harvard. Although they are beholden to the regents, they've promised to listen to the citizens, too. Still in the data collection phase, the proposal is expected in the spring.
TESTING THE WINDS
Austin City Council: Applying political pressure for public favor has political advantages, but UT is a formidable – and often immovable – opponent. If anyone at City Hall is maneuvering yet, it's behind the scenes.
Marc Ott: He's yet to give any public comments on the Brack Tract, but the city manager could be a key player dealing with the university.