I've got a problem -- I bleed Orange and I love where I live.
As someone who attended Dill, Casis, O.Henry, Austin High and the University of Texas, I feel I have had the best atmosphere in which to grow up. I have seen a lot of change in this town, but one thing that has remained consistent is our Muny.
I am naturally inclined to see golf succeed in any form--the fact that golfers have enjoyed Muny since 1924 is grand. But there are more implications if certain plans are implemented to dismantle Muny as we know it. Muny provides green space, quiet tranquility, as well as providing recreation to the whole of the community. It has provided a healer for traffic, noise, and a natural buffer between downtown and Lake Austin. In other words, it is a transition from urban setting to a peaceful neighborhood.
If development plans proceed within the golf course, this atmosphere will be broken, and I think this is the thing that I am most opposed to. It will cease to be a municipal golf course with its arms wide open to everyone in this community. Muny has provided a chance for golfers of all ages to enjoy the game and yes, affordable and reliable, which adds to its timelessness. My story is no different than that of countless youngsters eager to play the game, but we were provided a lovely place in which these memories will last us a lifetime. I regard these things as irreplaceable.
If a residential component is intertwined with the golf course, it ceases to be regarded as a stand-alone municipal facility, not to mention how we will lose our valuable green space. Yes, UT has the right to develop the land, but one can only imagine what Houston would be without Memorial Park, San Antonio without Brackenridge Park, or New Orleans without City Park. True, this is considered some very valuable real estate because of its proximity to an urban setting, yet it exists for recreational use for all people.
I cannot help but think of my stepmother, Bobbie Crenshaw, who was dedicated to protecting and preserving the many natural beauties of Austin. She was responsible for our beloved Town Lake Trail, Reed Park, Umlauf Gardens and too many more to mention. She was a strong advocate of balancing growth and preservation in an ever-growing town. I watched her take on many fights and learned that these things are worth fighting for. She was fiercely determined to protect the character of our town as well as our neighborhood, just as I am.
Yes, I am an Austinite who laments each situation like the one Muny now faces. Sadly, the list of disappearing landmarks once dear to us is a mile long. Each time we lose one of these places, we lose a bit of our identity as a community. Let's not rip the heart and soul out of West Austin.
During this discussion period it is my hope that the mayor and council can explore ways to work with the University of Texas in spirit of cooperation, with a goal of giving UT fair value for their property and preserving green space for Austin.