Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To the Executive Director of the Brackenridge Park Conservancy

Dear Ms. Powell,

I believe there are much better uses for the south end of Brackenridge Park than a golf course. As I'm sure you appreciate, Brackenridge Park occupies a unique location in the city. It's a shame that over one-third of the park is limited to use by golfers. (113 of the park's 343 total acres are occupied by the golf course per the City's website. I don't know how many acres the driving range takes up, but from looking at Google maps I'd say that's another 20 acres or so limited to golfers.) There is enormous potential for transforming the golf course into space to be enjoyed by many more people. Particularly with the revitalization of the downtown area and the Broadway corridor, it's time to reimagine the Brackenridge golf course.

I should admit I'm not much of a golfer and I've never played the Brackenridge course. I understand the course may have historical value to some folks as it's been around since 1916. I also understand the course was renovated at the cost of about $6 million in 2008 and it's managed by ACGT, which I believe is a private company the City contracted with. I appreciate there may be obstacles to making the most of Brackenridge Park, and it may not be possible to get started tomorrow. But there are plenty of golf courses, both public and private, in and around San Antonio. There's only one Brackenridge Park with the potential to truly transform San Antonio 's urban culture and landscape.

There are all manner of possibilties for the 113 acres of park now occupied by the golf course. Jogging and bike paths that connect to the paths north of the golf course. Fields for soccer games, tossing a football or throwing a frisbee. Maybe some indoor/outdoor cafes. A lake. A stage for outdoor concerts and plays. Playgrounds for kids. The Conservancy's website cites Hyde Park, Central Park and Golden Gate Park as examples of great city parks. Of those, only Golden Gate Park has a golf course - and it's a par 3 9-hole course. I'd suggest if Brackenridge absolutely must have a golf course, that's a more appropriate scale than a 6,815 yard 18 hole course. I believe Brackenridge Park has the potential to be a great urban park. The zoo and Japanese Garden are tremendous assets for our city. The rest of the park has so much unrealized potential, and the key to unlocking that potential includes rethinking the golf course. It's easy to envision a Brackenridge Park that's much more vibrant and utilized by many more people. There's a world of potential that is wasted on a sprawling golf course and driving range.

Last week I sent an email to the Mayor's office about the Brackenridge Park golf course. Mr. Xavier Urrutia (Director of COSA Parks & Rec Dept) responded yesterday, and in his response suggested I join the Brackenridge Park Conservancy. This lead me to contact you. What is the Brackenridge Park Conservancy's position on keeping the golf course and driving range?


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