Minutes from HNA special called meeting March 31.docx

HNA Meeting Minutes for March 31, 2021

Link to video recording of meeting: https://youtu.be/utaz-DnGHCc

Notes from March 31 HNA special called meeting
Submitted by HNA Secretary Robyn Ross

HNA President Coan Dillahunty called the meeting to order at 7:04 pm and explained the process for the meeting.

Coan covered some background and timeline information:
PARD presented at our January 21 meeting.
The Hancock Conservancy and Hancock Golf Course Conservancy presented at a special March 3 meeting.
The city’s Parks Board will meet April 27 to consider this issue, and HNA’s goal is to provide a statement in advance of that meeting that reflects the neighborhood’s priorities.
Coan said that the goal of the proposed statement is to stay in line with PARD’s articulated goal of financial sustainability for golf and maintaining golf’s historic significance at that location and that the statement draft is based on previously received feedback. He said the meeting is to find consensus on a collective statement to send to the Parks Board.

Coan said that once the group has reviewed and had a chance to ask questions about the existing components (in the agenda), there will be an opportunity to vote on elements to include in the final statement.
He then reviewed each component and explained the rationale behind it (e.g., golfers have said the opportunity to buy food and beverages would draw more people).

At 7:17 he opened the discussion to questions about the components.
Shannon Ratliff: Are open park days at odds with the fiscal solvency of golf if it takes away potential rounds?
Coan: They could be, that’s why we’re not prescribing how many.
Anna Thomas’s iPad: What about some bushes to protect cars parked on the street – for 3b?
Coan added this as Component 2e, Encourage plantings of trees/bushes for pedestrian/vehicle safety and shade.

Sam: Can we add “We do not want a private golf developer concessionaire” to Component 3?
Coan asked Parks Committee Chair Carolyn Palaima to speak about concessions/RFPs. Carolyn said there is a person on the Parks Board who specializes in Parks concessions who provided some context: A concession is a service contract designed to maintain/improve/operate an asset of the Parks department under PARD supervision. An RFP is a mechanism that a government agency has when it’s stewarding public funds to have an open bid process for activities that don’t normally fit under the expertise/skill set of PARD. These are present in other parks around town. Getting a food/beverage vendor would also require an RFP.

Andrew: Can we add “Formalize the relationship between HNA and the course managers to ensure community engagement”?
Coan: Would that be in the budget sustainability category or the continuation of non-golf spaces?
Andrew: Both.
Coan added Component 1h, Formalize a relationship between HNA and course managers to ensure community engagement.

Coan noted that the question of asking PARD to issue an RFI (request for information) rather than an RFP (request for proposal) had come up multiple times in the chat. He asked Parks Committee member Bart Whatley to speak about the difference between the two. Bart said that RFIs are more common in cases of a complicated initiative outside the city’s expertise, such as a theater going in on public land. But the city is familiar with the factors involved in working with vendors for food/beverage service or golf carts, so an RFI isn’t needed in such cases. RFI = asking questions about how a vendor would operate, RFP = engaging with vendor to offer a service

AJ Lawrence: Why don’t these components support turning the golf course into a park?
Coan: It’s because that isn’t the issue at hand with the Parks Board now; they’re going to consider an RFP with the continuation of golf in mind. We want to shape that resolution, and offering ideas not in line with that will not shape the way the resolution moves forward. Those are ideas you can lobby the board for as an individual or organization.
Carolyn said that RFPs do not relinquish the city’s oversight over the contractor.
Parks Committee member Linda Guerrero said the Parks Board has a concession committee that reviews and takes input from citizens to shape proposals.

Catharine Echols: As it is now, people often walk on the park after hours etc. Do we need to add something to make sure that there will continue to be public access to the course itself when not being actively used for golf?
Carolyn: There’s been no indication PARD would restrict that. We address that in Component 3 by saying we don’t want netting or fencing around golf course.
Coan asked if the group should specifically articulate that, and Carolyn said that would be opening a can of worms because the desire for access is understood, and we shouldn’t bring attention to that issue.
There were a number of comments in the chat expressing support for adding this point.

AJ Lawrence: What if this doesn’t reflect the views of majority of attendees in meeting? Doesn’t restricting votes to a small number of statements not build consensus? A lot of things expressed by membership are not included in components being voted on today.
Coan: I appreciate your sentiment and others’ as well but we’re trying to get a statement to the Parks Board on the RFP elements.
AJ Lawrence: I disagree, but thank you.
There were a number of comments in the chat expressing opposition to a concession agreement, an RFP or vendor management of the golf course itself.

Coan explained the Google survey process.

Bart: There are a lot of comments on the different type of concessionaires or RFP, like one that may operate the whole golf course, vs one that may support the golf operations run by the city. Maybe we make a statement that HNA is only interested in vendors or an RFP that supports the overall golf operation that should be run directly by the city. It might help to make a statement that we’re coming up with ideas to make course fiscally more solvent and perform better, but what we don’t want is the complete absence of the City of Austin as far as general operations. A vendor or concessionaire could support golf operations (food truck, cart rental) but maybe we could add to what we DON’T want having a concessionaire take over operations of the whole course.

Comments indicated wide support for this idea, and it was added as Component 3d, Oppose a concessionaire taking over general operations of the golf course.

Carolyn said that once PARD puts forward recommendations to the Parks Board in April, we will know more about what’s being put forward and HNA can have another meeting to address the recommendations.

Ella McCrea: What about adding the restoration of Waller Creek? That could be a shared goal for everyone; volunteers could remove invasive species and do some planting.
Coan said this was a good idea and asked Linda to share her thought on this.
Linda suggested we have someone from Watershed Protection speak to one of our meetings about this program and the creek. And Keep Austin Beautiful has someone in Hancock designated as a creek cleanup person. She said this idea should not go into a statement dealing primarily with budget.

Linda mentioned the option to write an individual letter to the Parks Board to express ideas like creek cleanups.

Someone asked a question about whether the form to vote on statement components will be sent to the whole membership. Coan said no, the idea was to have a meeting where the voting occurs.

Patricia Fontanals and Ella McCrea discussed Waller Creek cleanup efforts. Ella mentioned the need for open park days to facilitate volunteering at the creek. Patricia has organized volunteer days in the past but had a hard time getting volunteers. Patricia and Ella connected, and Carolyn suggested they could ask for this to go on a future meeting agenda.

CM Kathie Tovo was thanked for her attendance.

The meeting was ended at 8:01 pm.

Vote results are as follows:

Component 1a – Food/beverage vendors: Yes 57 / No 9 / Indifferent 7
Component 1b – Sunday clubhouse: Yes 44 / No 16 / Indifferent 13
Component 1c – Redesign problematic holes: Yes 31 / No 23 / Indifferent 19
Component 1d – Youth golf programs: Yes 56 / No 7 / Indifferent 10
Component 1e – Adult-beginner programs: Yes 49 / No 12 / Indifferent 12
Component 1f – Frisbee golf: Yes 57 / No 6 / Indifferent 10
Component 1g – Live music: Yes 64 / No 3 / Indifferent 6
Component 1h – Formalize a relationship between HNA and course managers to ensure community engagement: Yes 62 / No 7 / Indifferent 4
Component 2a – Preserve non-golf spaces: Yes 73 / No 0 / No 0
Component 2b – Continued collab with PARD, like on the trail: Yes 71 / No 2 / Indifferent 0
Component 2c – Explore enhancing community space: Yes 67 / No 2 / Indifferent 4
Component 2d – Non-golf open park days: Yes 40 / No 19 / Indifferent 14
Component 2f (there is no 2e) – Encourage plantings of trees/bushes for pedestrian/vehicle safety and shade: Yes 59 / No 1 / Indifferent 13
Component 3a – Oppose driving range: Yes 71 / No 2 / Indifferent 0
Component 3b – Oppose netting/fencing: Yes 71 / No 2 / Indifferent 0
Component 3c – Oppose night lighting: Yes 70 / No 2 / Indifferent 1
Component 3d – Oppose a concessionaire taking over general operations of the golf course: Yes 61 / No 6 / Indifferent 6


HNA Meeting Minutes for March 17, 2021

Link to recording of the Zoom meeting: https://youtu.be/oPhe_kuqwm8

Minutes from HNA regular meeting 3.17.21

President Coan Dillahunty called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.

The minutes from the January 20 and March 3 meetings were adopted.

Coan Dillahunty gave the treasurer’s report in Bruce Fairchild’s absence. The checking account balance, which began at $4159.70 on January 20, now stands at $4711.21 after the deposit of member dues. The money market account remains roughly the same at $2509.45.

Parks Committee report from Carolyn Palaima:

--After weather-related delays, the maintenance work on the trail around the golf course is going well and will wrap up around the end of March.
--The PARD online survey about the future of Hancock Golf Course opened March 9 and will close March 23. Everyone is encouraged to complete this survey. https://austinenergy.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1Tyloojt1kmzAc6
--PARD remains on the same timeline as Assistant Director of PARD Anthony Segura presented at our January meeting: PARD will make recommendations to the Parks Board in April, and the issue will be presented to City Council in May.

--Coan Dillahunty announced that the Executive Committee and Parks Committee held a joint meeting over the weekend to discuss components of a statement to put forward on behalf of HNA. This will allow the neighborhood to go on record in favor of some specific ideas about the golf course.
--On Wednesday, March 31, there will be a special meeting at which HNA members will be able to vote on specific elements of the statement. This statement will be posted to the website in advance. Following that meeting, the executive and parks committees will assemble the final draft of the statement to put forward to the city.

Transportation Committee:

Coan Dillahunty announced that Natalie Niles Arguello attended the recent NCINC (North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition) meeting on behalf of HNA. TxDOT’s second “virtual public scoping meeting” is open now through April 9 at 5 p.m. All Hancock residents should complete TxDOT’s second survey, even if they took the first one. https://capexcentral.mobility35openhouse.com/

There was no news from the Zoning Committee.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to presentations for and against Proposition F, one of eight propositions on the May ballot. Prop F changes the mayor’s powers.

Andrew Allison of Austinites for Progressive Reform spoke for the proposal.
This group is behind Prop F as well as Props D, E, G and H. Its goal is to make Austin government more “representative, responsible and accountable.” Andrew stated that in an era of voter suppression, cities have a role to play to increase turnout and ensure representation. These ideas have all been tested and implemented in other cities.

--Prop D moves the mayoral election to presidential election years, when there’s the highest and most diverse turnout.
--Prop E implements ranked-choice voting (if permitted by state law), which would eliminate expensive and low-turnout runoff elections.
--Prop G adds another single-member council district to keep up with Austin’s growth.
--Prop H is a campaign finance reform measure that gives voters $25 vouchers to contribute to city candidates of their choice. In Seattle, a similar program has increased the number of candidates who can run, diversified their donor bases, and led to increased voter turnout.

Prop F would “let voters and not politicians choose the person who leads the city.” Right now Austin is one of the largest cities in the country with an unelected city manager who runs the executive branch of local government by setting daily policy, writing the budget and choosing department heads. Shifting some of these duties to an elected mayor would provide checks and balances. Prop F would make this person democratically accountable. The change would also remove powers from the mayor that are legislative in nature and retain them to the council.

Mason Ayer of Austin for All People spoke against the proposal.
He said that Austin’s success as one of the most desirable cities in the nation is due partly to the system of government we’ve had for decades; why would we want to change that? Consolidating power in the hands of a single mayor elected to a four-year term is not the solution to the problems of voter suppression Andrew identified.
--Under Prop F, the mayor would have the ability to set council meetings but wouldn’t be required to attend.
--Austin’s shift to a 10-1, geographic district system in 2012 has expanded representation on council, and giving the mayor veto power over a council decision negates council members’ voices. The 2/3 council vote required to override a mayoral veto is too high of a bar.
--A city manager is a professional trained to manage a very large budget. Putting that power in the hands of an elected official without that training is dangerous. If the mayor gets to appoint heads of all departments, there’s a risk of him/her appointing friends or donors to those positions.
--Finally, Ayer asked, if this is a pro-democracy move, why are we voting on something so important in a historically low-turnout May election during a pandemic?


Q. What problem does a strong-mayor system solve? Can you give us a local scenario where a strong mayor would have been better equipped to handle the situation?
Andrew: Going to 10-1 was a great step forward, but it also exposed flaws in our city manager system. Several times over the past 5 years, council has voted unanimously on something, but what the council agrees on is not implemented, or is implemented slowly or late. It’s as though the city manager has an “administrative veto,” one for which there is no override. It’s very rare for the council to fire the city manager, so in these situations, voters have little recourse.

Q. What is the worst-case scenario if Prop F passes? Walk us through a situation that could happen under a strong mayor that you think most voters would dislike.
Mason: It is rare for council to fire the city manager, but that person can be removed via a simple majority vote, or council can force her/his resignation. But with an unaccountable mayor, voters only have a chance to replace that person every four years. Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City all have strong mayors, and we don’t want to be like them. Imagine that a political hack is elected mayor and is managing the budget and appointing department heads based on personal favor.

Q. I would appreciate hearing more from each side about how Prop F would impact racial equity in Austin. What specific ways could Prop F reduce or fail to reduce racial disparities in housing, health care, education and more?
Andrew: The clearest way to look at this is to look at who chooses the city manager today, and who would choose the mayor in the future. Currently the city manager is chosen by council and mayor, generally in a unanimous vote. We live in a city that is a majority people of color, but most council members come from majority-white and wealthier areas due to the city’s history of segregation, so the “electorate” for the city manager is structurally unrepresentative of the city as a whole. Under Prop F, a much more diverse electorate would choose our chief executive via citywide vote.
Mason: We have made great progress on council diversity with the 10-1 system. A strong mayor has the potential to negate council’s voice.

Q. If Austin changes to a strong-mayor system, the mayor will be responsible for administrative and budgetary tasks that the city manager currently handles. This seems like the mayor would need to be someone with executive management experience rather than, primarily, a political visionary. Can each group talk about the qualities you think are most important for a mayor to hold?
Mason: The City of Austin is like a big corporation, and to be effective the mayor would need some kind of background running a bureaucracy. City managers go to school for this; the idea is they operate outside of politics.
Andrew: The city isn’t a corporation, it’s a democracy, and we have to trust the voters. Right now we have the legislature (the council) choosing the executive (the city manager) rather than trusting the voters to choose the chief executive of the city. “Politics” is another word for voting, and we need leaders who are responsive to voters. The ideal qualities of a mayor will be what voters decide they should be, not what 11 people in a conference room decide.

Q. Both groups acknowledge the changes made by the shift to 10-1, so why would it be a good idea to give the mayor veto power over a council decision?
Andrew: It’s a question of checks and balances. You can read on our website about the powers the mayor would lose under Prop F and how power would be split. Council would be able to override a mayoral veto, confirm appointments, have budget authority, and appoint the city auditor, who oversees the executive branch. The council and mayor both have checks over one another, like in our other American systems.
Mason: The 2/3 vote required for council to override a mayoral veto is a very high bar to reach.

Q. Do other peer cities with strong mayors all give the mayor veto power?
Andrew: Yes, every strong-mayor city with a population of more than 500,000 has a mayoral veto.

Q. The Code rewrite or Code Next2 has been very contentious with a great deal of citizen involvement. With a strong Mayor who appoints the head of Zoning and Planning commission what effect would that have on decision making on Code change?
Mason: We really don’t know. I would hope the mayor would appoint someone with expertise in this area, but it could be a member of the good-old-boys’ club. Also, the code rewrite is one of the biggest changes our city has experienced in decades, and there have been many opportunities for citizen input. Changing to a strong-mayor system is at least as big a change, but there hasn’t been the same level of community input.
Andrew: The elected mayor would appoint the head of the department (which the unelected city manager does currently). The mayor would lose the ability to appoint someone to the Planning Commission, which would be replaced by the appointee from the new 11th district. Ultimately any land development code or zoning change has to pass through council as an ordinance – the mayor can’t pass that on his/her own.

Q. Why is there no provision requiring the City Council confirm any department head nominees to be confirmed with a majority vote?
Andrew: Today, the city attorney is appointed by the unelected city manager. In our proposal the mayor picks the city attorney, who must then be confirmed by council. The council could also remove and replace that person (a power council does not have today). Currently, public safety chiefs are confirmed by council and department heads are not. Under Prop F that would stay the same; we don’t want to change too much at once.

Q. How does Austin for All People stand on Propositions D, E, G and H?
Mason: We aren’t taking a position on those.

Q. Proposition H would create a public campaign finance program in which every registered voter gets two $25 vouchers to contribute to the city candidates of their choice. Where does the money for "Democracy Dollars" come from?
Andrew: The total cost would be less than $850,000 per year from the general fund. This was originally recommended by the 2018 appointed Charter Review Commission, but it was never put on the ballot, so we revived it. This would replace the current public finance system, which only provides financing in runoffs, so the money that currently goes toward that program could go toward offsetting this – if we implement ranked-choice voting, we can eliminate runoffs.

Closing statements:
Mason: We have seen strong opposition to Prop F from a wide range of groups, including both labor and the Real Estate Council of Austin as well as environmental groups. May will be a low-turnout election to decide something this important. For more information: austinforallpeople.org.
Andrew: We have to examine the origins of our current city manager system, which was implemented in the 1920s largely at the behest of Monroe Shipe to serve his own business interests. One of the first policies to emerge from the new system was the segregationist 1928 city plan. “In these days we should be examining where our systems come from, and if our systems have questionable origins, we should be questioning whether we should be keeping them at all.” For more information: austinprogress.org.

Coan Dillahunty adjourned the meeting at 8:06 pm.


Minutes from HNA regular meeting 3.17.21.pdf

Minutes from HNA regular meeting 3.17.21.docx

HNA Meeting Minutes for March 3, 2021


HNA March 3 special meeting notes

The meeting was called to order by HNA President Coan Dillahunty at 7:05 pm.

The group agreed to have the meeting recorded.


Background information presented by Coan Dillahunty:

  • The land has been a golf course since 1899, became a city-run public course in 1951 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Recently the city has been trying to resolve the course’s finances. It has been losing money for at least the past 6 years. Other golf courses have also lost money. As a revenue-generating unit of the city, golf is expected to contribute to the bottom line, and City Council has asked PARD to offer a solution.

  • The city contracted the National Golf Association to study all city courses, and NGF’s 2019 report said Hancock needed $700,000 to $900,000 in improvements. Because of the shortfall and stated need for repairs/upgrades, PARD decided to open a Request for Proposal for bids from private concessionaires to take over operations.

  • Under a concession agreement, the use of the course could change. It could be a different layout, a driving range, possibly with nets. Nothing’s been decided but these things have been discussed.

  • PARD is not closing the golf course or selling the land. The city is not considering building shops or homes there. Hancock Recreation Center is not going to change.

  • PARD has stated it plans to continue some form of golf at the site and retain nonpaid, passive park uses (like the walking trail).

  • Next steps: PARD is going to send out another survey in the near future, and it’s important that everyone in the neighborhood fill it out.

  • HNA will adopt a resolution to share with the city about how members think the course should be used in the future, based on people’s current use and future priorities for the space. The resolution will be drafted with input from our own neighborhood-only poll and will be voted on at a future meeting.

Hancock Conservancy presentation

Speakers: Kristene Blackstone (HNA member) and Adam Sparks (HC founder, Cherrywood resident)

  • The Hancock Conservancy exists to preserve green open space, make it more accessible and restore the environment around Waller Creek. People inside and outside Hancock neighborhood have been involved with HC, talking to people about what they envision for the space and cleaning up after the snow day.

  • Adam’s background: been in Austin since 2007, loves parks, no one is paying him to do this. He attended the stakeholder meeting in February 2020, where PARD presented the NGF study. This included three potential recommendations for the space, one of which was turning the space into a passive park (although this was not what NGF recommended). Adam wanted that option to be considered and so did other people at the meeting. He developed a survey that included the option of a park, and many respondents were interested. He has asked for PARD’s next survey to include this question.

  • Adam: We are here because the current model for golf is not sustainable. It’s time to seek a long-term solution. Parks conservancies have raised millions of dollars for Austin
    parks (Pease, Shoal Creek, Waller Creek/Waterloo, Barton Springs). Residents of several hundred nearby apartments could use this park.

  • Four key asks: more time from the city to figure this out; no driving range; if the city moves forward with a concession agreement, make it a Request for Information rather than a Request for Proposal so the public could see it; if golf continues, expand existing passive park elements and restore the area along the creek.

Q&A with pre-submitted questions

Q. PARD’s Community Parknerships program has several “configurations” or tiers of criteria for partnerships with private organizations. Tier A requires a 7-year history of collaboration with PARD and 5 years of philanthropic fundraising. Tier B requires a 3-year history of collaboration with PARD and 3 years of proven fundraising or the capacity to raise funds for a specific project. Tier C entities are “Friends of X Park” or “adopt-a-park” groups made primarily of volunteers.

As conservancies, which of these criteria do you meet or propose to meet?

A. Tier B, we would raise money on behalf of the city and turn it over. We’re getting set up to become a nonprofit or work under the umbrella of a larger group.

Q. Describe the park you envision for the Hancock space.

A. We will have a concept plan by the end of the month. It includes riparian restoration (like Willowbrook Reach in Cherrywood), tree canopy, great lawns, and Blackland Prairie restoration.

Q. How much would it cost to transform the existing golf course into that park, and how did you arrive at that figure?

A. Keep Austin Beautiful has a program with money and volunteers for the creek restoration. That could begin right away. Blackland Prairie restoration is expensive, so the lawn would be maintained as-is in phase 1, converted to Blackland Prairie in phase 2. We want to keep it as-is (no amenities), so initial estimate is $200,000-$400,000. Maintenance: $100-150K to water, mow, maintain trails and empty trash.

Q. How would you raise that money?

A. Austin Parks Foundation has small grants, and we know private donors are interested.

Q. How long would it take?

A. We’ll have more info soon with our park concept plan. Golf may turn a profit this year and could be continued for a few more years while we try to raise $500K.

Q. Have you raised money yet?

A. No, we are working with Austin Community Foundation to become a subsidiary. We have donors lined up and want to raise money before the April Parks Board meeting.

Q. From a community engagement standpoint, what city officials have you met with?

A. Five City Council offices, Austin Parks Foundation, Pease Park Conservancy, Waterloo Greenway, park planners for Zilker, neighborhood associations, Parks Board members


Member/audience questions

Q. What environmental professionals or experts have you been in contact with to design this space? It is a requirement of being a PARD partner to have such a plan presented to the COA for review.

A. UT professors, Watershed Protection Department riparian restoration staff, Wildflower Center staff

Q. When will you be a 501c3?

A. Until it becomes a park we can’t raise money. We want to be/create a subsidiary (under Austin Community Foundation) so it can hold the money in trust.

Q. How would the park affect parking in the neighborhoods adjacent to the park?

A. There would be parking in the lot, on 41st
and on Peck.

Q. Have you considered the risk of the public park initiative to a citywide vote? The last time that happened in Hancock the other 9 holes became a shopping center. It would be terrible unintended consequence to lose the green space we have now to re-development.

A. We are fiercely against development and think other voters share that view.

Q. PARD said a passive park would incur a maintenance cost of $200,000 a year, which would come not from GolfATX enterprise fund but from the General Fund which is counter to what Council has asked from PARD. How will you cover these immediate costs if it will take you several years to be an effective conservancy?

A. That estimate was rough. We’ve been asking what it would take to maintain park of this size and think it could be less than that.

Q. What funds for the riparian restoration funded by the existing organization have already been allocated to current projects?

A. We’ve been talking with the person who did Willowbrook Reach in Cherrywood, and expenses are low.


Hancock Golf Course Conservancy presentation

Speakers: Kevin McKinney and Andrew Dillon (HNA members), David Courtney (Hyde Park)

  • Kevin’s background: Has lived across from the golf course 26 years.

  • Goal of the conservancy is to preserve the existing course and raise money on its behalf. It has been losing money, but in 2020 there were more than 20,000 paid rounds, even though the course was closed for two months because of Covid. It’s had 11,000 rounds already this fiscal year, more than double the same timeframe last winter, without any additional promotion or the investment NGF says it needs. Golfers like it as it is. This trend of increased rounds will continue.

  • We know people use the park for other things (including yoga). Hancock is a green space, passive park, modern golf learning facility, proven money maker and home for wildlife.

  • Andrew’s background: Has lived on 37th
    Street for 22 years and has started to golf. No one’s against parks – Austin has 300 – but there are only six golf courses. Golf takes up a small percentage of land for parks. Hancock is historically significant and quaint/funky. It’s not a country club. The numbers suggest the course hasn’t been managed well. The course managers could invite people to play for free to get them started in the game. We could take a closer look at the hours that allow for non-golf activities at Hancock.

  • David’s background: Has lived in Hyde Park 20 years. We already have many parks (Shipe, Eastwoods, Patterson, Mueller etc.) nearby, and Hancock as a facility is also open to everyone who wants to pay to play there. We’ve been at this crossroads before, and in 2012 the will of the neighborhood was to keep the course. I’m willing to walk the course with anyone who wants to know more.

  • Kevin: Watch the presentation PARD did with Hancock Conservancy March 16 to see how PARD staff are talking about this situation differently than they originally were.

Q&A with pre-submitted questions

Q. What strategies have you identified that could close the funding gap?

A. The financial numbers are already better right now. An obvious solution is food or beverage trucks. We could hold tournaments, “Friday night at the Hancock” movies with low-key acoustic unamplified music, fundraising events at the rec center.

Q. The city has said the Hancock Golf Course needs a number of upgrades. As regular golfers, what do you think is needed to improve or upgrade the course or the overall golf experience?

A. Very little needs to change. Open the pro shop, add food and beverage, golf carts for rent, pull carts. We can plant trees and do cleanups.

Q. Are you focused on maintaining the existing course layout, or are other golf activities, such as a pitch and putt or driving range, or a reconfigured course, acceptable options in your view?

A. We’d like it to remain a 9-hole course as it is. We are totally against a driving range.

Q. How much land do you believe can be used for passive activities (e.g., Frisbee throwing, yoga, croquet, volleyball) which would not interfere with the golf course as it is?

A. There is space in the southwest corner and along Red River; also, people can walk the cart paths early in the morning when there’s just a couple of golfers out, and it doesn’t cause problems. There are other spaces the whole community could benefit from, but it’s been hard to get that message through to management.

Q. Are you a 501c3?

A. We will be if we need to be; we expect to be approved for a sponsored fundraising account through Austin Parks Foundation.

Q. PARD’s Community Parknerships program has several “configurations” or tiers of criteria for partnerships with private organizations. Tier A requires a 7-year history of collaboration with PARD and 5 years of philanthropic fundraising. Tier B requires a 3-year history of collaboration with PARD and 3 years of proven fundraising or the capacity to raise funds for a specific project. Tier C entities are “Friends of X Park” or “adopt-a-park” groups made primarily of volunteers.

As conservancies, which of these criteria do you meet or propose to meet?

A. We could immediately become a Tier C.

Q. From a community engagement standpoint, what city officials have you met with?

A. PARD, GolfATX, Austin Parks Foundation


Member/audience questions

Q. You said something earlier about not wanting people outside the neighborhood to have influence, what did that mean?

A. The HNA and people who live near the course should have the most say in how we want our neighborhood to be. People who have chosen to own homes here may have done so partly because they appreciate the course as it is.

Q. I found that I couldn’t really use Hancock as a park – non-golfers get kicked off. How would you increase revenue without losing access for nongolf uses?

A. These can coexist. [There was some disagreement about whether non-golfers are asked to leave.]

Q. Ideas for coexistence in light of the danger of people getting hit by golf balls?

A. Signage about where the danger spots are could help, and we (as HGCC) could help with that.

Q. Would fundraising events be open to all?

A. We wouldn’t exclude people; we’d start by promoting it to the neighborhood.

Q. 2020 and 2021 are atypical times because of the pandemic/quarantine. It seems like the course will return to its regular financial profile when the pandemic subsides.

A.. It’s more popular than ever, and we have multiple major pro tournaments in Austin that get people inspired to play.

Coan remarked that he heard some points of agreement between the groups, namely that neither supports a driving range.

Coan adjourned the meeting at 8:21 pm.



HNA March 3 special meeting notes for HNA.pdf

HNA March 3 special meeting notes for HNA.docx

HNA Meeting Minutes for January 20, 2021

Minutes: HNA Regular Meeting; January 20, 2021

Call to Order: Hugh Bender

Treasurer’s Report:
Balance in Checking account is $4,200; Balance in Money Market account is $2,500

Parks Committee Report:
Texas Conservation Corp (TXCC) is scheduled to start work on February 22, 2021, with expected completion by March 12th of the repair and maintenance of the entire trail. We will be using STA-LOCK, a waxy epoxy-like material that hardens under pressure on grades higher than 5% for more stability and lower maintenance. Estimated cost approved in 2019 is $31,790.

In working with PARD and TXCC on this contract, the Parks Committee has laid the structure for an ongoing agreement with TXCC for long-term maintenance of the trail, which is the next step after the trail repair is completed. $100,000 has been committed from the HNA funds held at the Austin Parks Foundation for future payments on long-term maintenance.

Historic District Committee Report:
The district survey has been completed. There are 4 recommended historic districts in Hancock, yet to be announced.

Bylaws Special Committee Formed:
New special committee formed to review and make recommendations on HNA bylaws.

Introduction of new APD District Representative:
Will Harvey is the APD contact for the area that includes Hancock His contact information is:
Phone: 512-974-8123; Email: william.harvey@austintexas.gov

Update on IH-35 Redesign Plans:
Introduction of Brendan Wittstruck (email: brwittstruck@gmail.com) with the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition, or NCINC2. It is a coalition of 11 neighborhood associations bordered by more than 3 miles of I-35, which includes Hancock. Information on their mission and TxDOT’s plans can be found at: https://www.ncinc.org/ .

Election of Officers for 2021
Running unopposed and voted in by consent:
President: Coan Dillahunty
Treasurer: Bruce Fairchild
Secretary: Robyn Ross
By vote:
Vice President: Bart Whatley
(Vote: Bart=67; Ella=51)


HNA Meeting Minutes - January 20, 2021.pdf

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