NEW! 00BY THE ALAMO Davy’s Den now open …. 3rd floor in downtown SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 67 tastefully decorated rooms, each with remote controlled color tv and rheostat lights, free parking, and local telephone calls, swimming pool, ice and soft drink machines on each floor, across the street from the Alamo. Major credit cards accepted. Commercial and family rates year round. BLUE ROOM FOR MEETINGS/PARTIES Crockett Motor Inn Telephone 512/225-4491 320 Bonham Street 18205 Erwin scuttles bill Austin It was one of your more titillating committee hearings. Teeth were gritted. Senators were hissed. Tempers flared. There were no fisticuffs, unfortunately, but the surprise ending was boffo. Sen. Charles Herring of Austin and U.T. Regent Frank Erwin told the Senate Education Committee that S.B. 611 was being offered as a favor to the Save Muny Committee, Muny being the Municipal Golf Course which is leased to the City of Austin by the University of Texas. Erwin and the regents want to dispose of the Brackenridge Tract, which includes the golf course \(for a history of the Brackenridge bequest, see Obs., “The regents must use this property for the benefit of the university. We could build on it, sell it or lease it, but we must benefit from the $8 million worth of land,” Erwin said last August. Since then the Austin regent has learned just how many Austin children take golf lessons at Muny, how many Austin families use the course evenings and Saturday mornings, how many West Austin residents love the cool green belt, the only large open space in the fully-developed Tarrytown area. Rumor has it that speculators want to build townhouses and filling stations on the property, and the sturdy burghers of Tarrytown are up in arms about it. The $8 to $12 million cost of the 150-acre golf course far exceeds Austin’s yearly recreation budget. Councilmen have speculated on the possibility of trading another city golf course, Hancock Course, in exchange for Muny, but there have been no serious negotiations between the city and the university. Mayor Roy Butler says, “Apparently there is no permanent way to save Muny.” Councilman Dick Nichols rejects the plan as “an exercise in futility.” HERRING TOLD HIS fellow senators that his bill would allow the university to lease or trade the land to the city or some other governmental agency, rather than to dispose of it via sealed bids IDA PRESS 901 W 24th St Austin Multi copy service. Call 477-3641 Bookkeeping & Tax Service 503 WEST 15TH, AUSTIN 78701 a 0 cu OFFICE HOURS: 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M. CI AND BY APPOINTMENT ANYTIME Regent Frank at public auction as required by legislation Herring passed for Erwin in 1967. “We already have the right to sell the land, now we want the right to exchange it,” Erwin said. Herring chimed in, “We’re trying to help save it. If they don’t want it saved. . ” “They” soon made it obvious they were not about to trust Erwin and Herring to Savy Muny. Witnesses variously suggested that the legislators write restrictions into the bill to delay any transaction until environmental and feasibility studies can be made, to require that the land be reserved for public use or to require that it be sold to another governmental agency. Sens. Jack Ogg of Houston and Raul Longoria of Edinburg considered the suggestions hopelessly pie-in-the-skyish. Ogg held forth on the right of a property owner to sell land “for the highest and best use.” He alleged that his constituents were more interested in “saving money than in saving Muny.” Longoria said that the land sale was a UT problem, not a Senate problem. Jon Coffee, an Austin lawyer, pointed out that Herring’s bill would allow the regents to privately negotiate for the sale, lease or trade of the land. “The private negotiation part of the bill is probably inimical to the public interest,” he said, leaving his listeners to silently conjure visions of Erwin plotting behind closed doors to transform the golf course into a rock-crushing plant or a shopping center. The tiny committee room was crammed with h irate Austinites. Usually well-mannered garden club women were applauding the Muny witnesses and generally giving Herring and Erwin a bad time. Committee Chairman Oscar Mauzy was not making much use of the gavel and Erwin and Herring were getting tense. Jeff Friedman, an Austin City Councilman, was speaking to the senators, and Councilman Lowell Lebermann was waiting in the wings. Friedman was asking why it wouldn’t be feasible to increase the rent the city pays on Muny when Erwin decided he’d had enough. He interrupted Friedman and abruptly told the committee that he’d asked Herring to draft the bill and now he wanted it pulled down. Quick as a bunny, Ogg moved to table the bill. The committee members compliantly washed their hands of the matter. “Sometimes it’s hard to help people,” Erwin grumbled self-righteously. No one seemed to know what the regent’s impatient command would mean to the future of the golf course. Erwin told the reporters he’d think about the matter. He still claimed to have the legal authority to sell the property to the highest bidder, but some members of the Muny Committee speculated that if he really had the legal authority to dispose of the land as he desires he would not have asked Herring to sponsor S.B. 611. K.N. The truth is that all men having power should be distrusted. James Madison April 27, 1973 11
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