State Sen. Craig Estes knows that, in legislating, you win some and you lose some. But even when you lose, there is sometimes a small measure of success coupled with an opportunity to try again.
Estes, a Republican from Witchita Falls, can take some satisfaction in his proposal — now dead — to preserve Lions Municipal Golf Course in West Austin. His Senate Bill 822 would have transferred Muny, as the city-operated course is known, from University of Texas ownership to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Much to UT’s surprise, the measure passed the Senate with bipartisan support. It failed, however, to emerge from a House committee.
There is little doubt that the proposal spurred UT to step up negotiations with the city, which wants Muny preserved. UT President Gregory L. Fenves says various options are on the table, inluding a land swap, a higher lease payment by the city and increased development rights for UT on adjacent land and other parcels it owns.
“My hope is that we have shined enough light on this issue that people are aware of the rich history of this place that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Estes said Monday, referring to Muny’s distinction as perhaps the first municipal golf course in the former Confederate states to accommodate black golfers.
“I give the University of Texas and the city of Austin my best wishes for a successful negotiation,” the senator said. “If they’re able to come to a long-term solution, I’m very excited about (pro golfer) Ben Crenshaw and all of his friends raising the money privately to return that course to its historic grandeur. If negotiations should fall apart, I look forward to returning next session and working as hard as I can to save Muny.”