AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted \today (Feb. 18) to allow the lease with the City of Austin for the Lions Municipal Golf Course to expire at the end of the current term in May 2019.
The Board's action to allow the lease to terminate follows a recent review of the uses of the Brackenridge Tract, and is in line with and adopts the recommendation of a task force appointed to study the tract and make recommendations to the Board. Read the Board Motion (PDF)
"As fiduciaries of the trust created by Colonel Brackenridge's most generous gift for the purpose of advancing and promoting education for the students at The University of Texas at Austin, the Board of Regents is duty bound to honor the intent of the gift," Regents' Chairman Gene Powell said. "The Board has an obligation to be a good steward of the land all across Texas to which it is entrusted for the benefit of our students and the state. We also must be a responsible neighbor to others.
"It is essential our academic and health institutions always maximize use of their assets and financial resources to keep costs to students and their families as low as possible. The current tight economy simply puts more focus on these responsibilities," Powell added.
In proposing the motion to the Board, Regent Printice L. Gary stated the Board's desire to continue open and ongoing dialogue with the City leadership on issues of mutual interest as the Board plans how best to use and redevelop the tract in the coming years to benefit UT Austin.
The Brackenridge Tract Task Force was appointed in July 2006 and issued its written report and recommendations in October 2007. Among the task force recommendations was that the golf course lease should be allowed to terminate at the end of the current term and that the Board should include the tract in the master planning process.
The recommendation is based upon the task force's conclusion that the lease of the land for a public golf course – at a rental rate substantially below what the property could generate were it used for other purposes – does not meet the intent of Colonel Brackenridge's gift, specifically to support the educational mission of The University of Texas at Austin.
The golf course is on the university-owned Brackenridge Tract in West Austin. The 500-acre parcel along Lady Bird Lake was donated in 1910 by Colonel George W. Brackenridge, a former UT System regent from San Antonio, for the benefit of The University of Texas at Austin. Since that time, some acreage was conveyed for streets and similar public purposes and for residential development. Today, the tract consists of approximately 346 acres of undeveloped and developed land that includes the municipal golf course, UT Austin student housing, a biological field laboratory for the campus, a youth sports complex and various commercial buildings and enterprises on property leased from the Board.
Since 1924, a portion of the tract – now 141 acres – has been leased for a golf course. The present lease for the Lions Municipal Golf Course was entered into in 1987 and amended in 1989 to extend its term to May 2019, with three five-year extensions that may be cancelled by either the City or Board.
In March 2008, the Board of Regents hired Cooper, Robertson & Partners to develop a minimum of two conceptual master plans for the potential redevelopment of land. The two conceptual master plans were presented to the Board in June 2009. A special advisory committee of the Board was established to review the master plans, hear public comments and make recommendations to the Board.
The Board's decision with regard to the golf course lease marks the second time Regents have made a determination on future uses of specific portions of the tract. In December 2009, the Board of Regents adopted the special advisory committee's recommendation to retain The University of Texas at Austin's biological field laboratory on approximately 80 acres of the Brackenridge Tract.
Serving the educational and health care needs of Texans for more than 125 years, The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.