Purposed map of development, courtesy of Decker Lake Golf LLC's proposal
There is a proposal before the city council currently for a private developer to build two PGA level18 hole golf courses on 735 acres of city owned land located by Decker Lake. The developers would pay for the construction and the operation of the courses while giving a cut of the revenue back to the city which is estimated to be around $4 million annually. The developers would essentially be leasing the land from the city, which is currently a fenced in area of the 3,700 acre Walter E. Long park near 130.
The first course could be open by early 2018. The green fees are expected be around $150-$200, with city residents getting at least a 40% discount on those fees. Additional amenities of the development could include a lakeside club house, meeting space, driving range, short course with a child discount, and possibly a ferry to shuttle people across the lake.
Decker Lake golf development proposed timeline, courtesy of Decker Lake Golf LLC's proposal
There are concerns about the amount of water that will be used to maintain these courses. Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros expressed concerns to the city council regarding how the courses could possibly inhibit the utility from using Decker Lake as an emergency water supply, and he also mentioned the credibility concerns of allowing large golf courses to be built while being a steward of conservation and cutting off downstream water due to the current drought. The golf course developers have countered that they would use reclaimed water, and it would have no impact on Austin's water supply.
Because of these water concerns, the city council voted unanimously to postpone consideration until February, 2015. Recently, City Manager Mark Ott floated a new proposal that would require the project to be water neutral, meaning the city wouldn't be able to increase its total water usage across all city run golf courses to accommodate these new courses. The city would essentially need to reduce irrigation at other golf courses to free up water for these new ones.
Decker Lake Clubhouse Rendering, courtesy of Decker Lake Golf LLC's proposal
Neighbors such as Barbara Scott, President of the Colony Park Neighborhood Association are in support of the project because of the potential for the development to lift up the economy in the surrounding area. Hoping a more vibrant economy in the area will attract needed infrastructure, namely a badly needed grocery store. Newly elected District 1 council member Ora Houston has said she felt the decision was being rushed and wanted more engagement with the community before a decision is reached.
Others have expressed concerns about the revenue generating possibilities of the development. Will the courses actually make money?..with the national trend in recent years of more golf courses closing than opening and interest in the sport cited to be waning by various sports analysts.
It's an interesting debate...we will continue to follow the situation and post updates as the story unfolds.
Update! (2/17/15) Decker Lake Golf LLC is now scheduled to appear before the city council on February 26th for possible approval of the project. In regards to the water issue, the developer has discovered underground water that is part of the Trinity Aquifer System. This water was deemed unusable in the past due to sulfur & undissolved solids in the water. The water can be used for irrigation purposes though, and the developer has proposed drilling a well at their expense to access this water.
Update! (1/15/16) It seems like the issue has stalled for the moment at the city. Officials from the City of Austin & Travis County met with the public at the Travis County Expo Center on 9/12/15 to discuss the various issues caused by eastside development such as this purposed project. District 1 Council Member Ora Houston, Mayor Steve Adler, & City Manager Marc Ott were in attendance. I believe the issue remains with a working group/committee for consideration at the city currently after this public meeting.