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Bryan golf course repairs OK'd

Council drops feasibility study

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

The Bryan City Council voted Tuesday to upgrade the Municipal Golf Course, scrapping plans for a feasibility study that would have examined other possible uses for the land.

Councilman Jason Bienski cast the only vote against the renovations, which officials say could cost more than $4 million. Councilman Paul Madison did not attend the Tuesday evening meeting.

City leaders had contemplated a feasibility study, saying they wanted to ensure the Villa Maria Road property was being best used for the golf course, rather than commercial development or some other purpose. The study would have cost about $60,000, officials said.

"[Conducting a feasibility study] just shows that we've uncovered all the stones to find the best use of the property," Bienski said. "I don't think there's anyone here on the council that's against an affordable municipal course."

Bryan officials have spent more than two years discussing what to do with the golf course.

Some members of the Bryan Business Council had suggested that the site on Villa Maria might be better used for commercial development, and the business council did not give its blessing to the revitalization plan when it was first proposed last summer. But no consensus had emerged on how and where to build a replacement course.

Bienski is a former member of the business council, an economic development group tasked with promoting Bryan projects.

A handful of residents addressed the council during Tuesday's meeting, pleading for the renovations at the Municipal Golf Course, which has been on Villa Maria Road for about 79 years.

Councilman Ben Hardeman said the golf course is an asset to the community "that can't be measured in dollars."

"It's almost an historical feature," he said.

Based on the council's vote Tuesday, the city will pay Tripp Davis and Associates $150,000 for architectural and engineering services to develop the plan to renovate the golf course. Necessary improvements include upgrades to the irrigation and drainage systems, and reworking of tee boxes, greens and fairways.

"You would pretty much have a completely renovated facility," Bryan project manager John Blackburn said.

Plans also call for the construction of a new clubhouse and cart paths.

"The golf course can still make money with the increased play we're going to get as a result of a better golf course," said Hugh Seale, president of the Brazos Golf Association. "We have a niche. It's called municipal golf, not country club golf."

_________________

Was anyone as disappointed in this decision as I was? I truly feel that Bryan would've benefited infinitely more by selling or leasing the land occupied by "Muni" to the appropriate developer rather than maintaining a delapidated, shrinking (due to road construction) and polluted piece of land. That land, given its location between the two largest and most upscale residential developements in Bryan's history (Traditions & Miramont), Texas A&M and Northgate is wasted given its current use. Its ideally suited for a large, multi-use development with retail, office and residential venues. A new course could've been built for a couple of million more than the cost to renovate the current one in a new part of town that would've opened up new growth and still provided an inexpensive form of recreation for locals and visitors. I really think our city leaders (other than Jason Bienski who voted against this) missed a grand opportunity here. As far as its "historical" value goes, the very first game of golf I ever played was at Muni, I took junior high lessons there and my dad grew up in the neighborhood across Villa Maria and has told many stories of walking and playing there but come on...historical? Unless, the proposed renovations are very grand in scale I think this was a grand mistake!

For anyone outside of B-CS who reads this, "Muni", as we call it has been on a down hill slide for years. Thought it is the only public course in Brazos County other than the course on A&M's campus it has declined for years as has its attendance. Bryan is now home to three country clubs and though Muni has its place its current location is defeating its purpose. Its bordered by a railroad track, lower income housing, and a small lake polluted by arsenic leaked by a chemical plant a few blocks away over several decades prior to the mid '90's. It has been said that a new course could be built for a couple of million or less dollars than its going to cost to "renovate" the current muni. I guess its too late but I sure wish others on the city council would look past the next 10 years and further into the future. If developed properly this could've transformed all of central Bryan, directly north of A&M's campus & Northgate.

Edited by Bryan Guy

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I could not agree more. With all the delays the Bryan Council has gone through regarding the Traditions land alloted to Melrose for a hotel, I never thought the Municipal Golf Course decision would come so quickly. I would have liked to have been at the council meeting for that.

I tell ya what, Bryan Guy, I'm not a very good public speaker, but if you go to the next council meeting and voice your opinion, I'll say a few words afterwards. This decision is the worst that could have been made. Doing nothing to the course would have been better, as it wouldn't be throwing money at an area that surely should have another use.

Bryan city leaders need to take a hard look at the College Ave. corridor and decide if they want it to be stale and declining, or put forth a concerted effort to revitalize the area. Lynn and Elinger, behind Pepe's, are a disaster. There is no excuse for land so close to A&M to be in such decline. Timberlake trailer park and those streets would make an inovative developer some money if they were all bulldozed and redeveloped with high-end student housing and a retail-club-sports bar area around the Chicken Oil Co. and Carney's. Bryan needs to work to make the area between Downtown and A&M the place to live for well-to-do undergrads, grad assistants and profs. If private investment can't do this alone, then Bryan should use tools upheld by the Supreme Court to save and revitalize this critical area.

As for the golf course, the land could be shopped to developers and if nothing suitable comes along, then the city should just sit on the land. As stated above, the location is between Miramont, Traditions, A&M and downtown, it deserves first rate development.

I feel the course should be moved to the floodplain area near University and Rudder Freeway, as a joint B-CS project. Creative water features and fairway layout could ensure the land is both useful as a floodplain when it rains, and an attractive golf course, with condos, retail and restaurants year round.

Another possible site for the Muni would be Austin's Colony, but I like the University-Rudder area better.

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I agree with everything y'all said. That area needs redevelopment big time and that land should've been used as a big first step. As of right now you can't get Downtown from CS without going through some "ghetto" area, and that's a big problem.

A golf course on the floodplain at University-Rudder is a great idea. It would add a lot to the whole upscale business park idea they are going for over there.

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I agree with everything y'all said. That area needs redevelopment big time and that land should've been used as a big first step. As of right now you can't get Downtown from CS without going through some "ghetto" area, and that's a big problem.

A golf course on the floodplain at University-Rudder is a great idea. It would add a lot to the whole upscale business park idea they are going for over there.

You know where I stand on the current use of the "muni" site but I guess I have to give Bryan city council members some credit. They did ask Briarcrest if they'd be willing to sell to the city and they did ask College Station if they'd like to participate in a joint course at University & Hwy 6 however both declined. I still think Bryan would've been far better off to just scrap the current course and sell the land. They could've even retained the land and leased it long term (as in 20 or more years) to a developer. I actually e-mailed the entire city council and the mayor with my feelings regarding this subject. Jason Bienski agreed with me and the mayor responded saying he'd keep what I had to say in mind when making his decision. Those were the only responses I received and apparently they had little bearing on the final vote.

Scotch, your idea about condos & retail surrounding the site at Hwy 6 & Rudder is great. Unfortunately, Bryan officials didn't see the opportunity in the area south of Muni enough to take a leap. They are forever limiting that area and enabling its decline. Watch, now College Station will develop the land as a course with no involvement with Bryan and we'll be left twiddling our thumbs as usual.

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You know where I stand on the current use of the "muni" site but I guess I have to give Bryan city council members some credit. They did ask Briarcrest if they'd be willing to sell to the city and they did ask College Station if they'd like to participate in a joint course at University & Hwy 6 however both declined. I still think Bryan would've been far better off to just scrap the current course and sell the land. They could've even retained the land and leased it long term (as in 20 or more years) to a developer. I actually e-mailed the entire city council and the mayor with my feelings regarding this subject. Jason Bienski agreed with me and the mayor responded saying he'd keep what I had to say in mind when making his decision. Those were the only responses I received and apparently they had little bearing on the final vote.

Scotch, your idea about condos & retail surrounding the site at Hwy 6 & Rudder is great. Unfortunately, Bryan officials didn't see the opportunity in the area south of Muni enough to take a leap. They are forever limiting that area and enabling its decline. Watch, now College Station will develop the land as a course with no involvement with Bryan and we'll be left twiddling our thumbs as usual.

I'm really suprised College Station declined that offer to build a joint golf course at University and 6, expecially since CS doesn't have a Muni of it's own and they already invested so much money in that area.

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I agree with everything y'all said. That area needs redevelopment big time and that land should've been used as a big first step. As of right now you can't get Downtown from CS without going through some "ghetto" area, and that's a big problem.

A golf course on the floodplain at University-Rudder is a great idea. It would add a lot to the whole upscale business park idea they are going for over there.

I would hardly call the stretch of South College between TAMU and downtown Bryan 'ghetto' (and even then the word 'ghetto' is pushing it) until you get to the area north of Cavitt, which has been be overtaken by illegal immigrants, dilapadated apartments complexes, and prostitutes.

I am angered by this Muni decision also. I have stated this before, but I'm going to say it again: the development of Bryan has been on the wrong track since the early 2005 dismissal of city development planner Kevin Russell. Muni NEEDS TO GO. There are already an abundance of golfing options in this area, and the fact is that the majority of residents don't give a fig about golf. The city has already declared that Villa Maria/Briarcrest is the designated CBD, so to have such a valuable piece of property sitting there for a few people to enjoy as the rest of the city begs out for new development that can fatten the tax rolls is yet another sign of the complete lapse of leadership in city hall.

I was planning to get to that last council meeting, but I for sure will be at the next one. If anyone wants to provide a united front of these and other development issues that we are discussing on the site, contact me at the email addy below.

In addition I work with a community organization called BV: CIA (Brazos Valley Citizens in Action) that is planning a number of debates and town hall meetings with the candidates for political office following the March primaries. If anyone would like more information on BV: CIA and its acitivities, feel free to hit me up.

SedrickGilbert@verizon.net

Edited by KennethColeSRG

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Is there anything that can be done at this point? It appears that all but one individual on the council seems to think that the current "Muni" is worth saving. Even though I totally disagree with them I do feel that the city should provide a municipal golf course for its citizens and others in the area. I think that a new course could be profitable but why should we invest millions of dollars on a course that is beyond saving? I really can't believe that the council went this direction. I honestly felt that with some of the other decisions they've made lately that they had vision enough to make something happen. If you really feel that we could have an effect on the city's decision I wouldn't hesitate to show up. How 'bout anyone else?

One question though, didn't Kevin Russell resign to take a job in College Station?

Edited by Bryan Guy

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I'll be at the meeting, as to what I will say, I still need to collect those thoughts down on paper. I mainly want to "ask" them why more thought was not put into this decision. They cannot directly respond but hopefully if a few of us show up they may at least rethink the decision made with haste.

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One question though, didn't Kevin Russell resign to take a job in College Station?

No, you are thinking of a guy from the development depeartment whose first name is Joey, but his last name escapes me.

Kevin Russell's position was eliminated by the city council with the explanation that the Brazos Valley Development Council should be the ones to pay his salary instead of the city, a clearly fool-hardy stance.

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Bryan Municipal Golf Course on list for A&M facility

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

Bryan's municipal golf course is among three locations the Texas A&M Health Science Center is eyeing for a new expanded campus, and center president Nancy Dickey has said one advantage of the site is that it would be a "gift" from the city.

That's news to Bryan Mayor Ernie Wentrcek, who says the city has never discussed with the Health Science Center the possibility of Bryan giving away - or selling - the golf course.

Although a decision on a new site appears to be down the road, a move to locate on the 80-year-old city golf course could spark controversy.

In a brief presentation to the A&M System's regents last month, Dickey said the Health Science Center is considering three locations for its new campus: the golf course on Villa Maria Road, acreage at George Bush West and F.M. 2818 and the Westinghouse Property on the east side of Earl Rudder Freeway South.

"We have not submitted any type of formal proposal to the board of regents, so if and when such a proposal does come before the board, it will be part of their public agenda," said Alicia Dorsey, the center's vice president for communication and program development. "No decisions have been made about sites. There are no pending official actions on the board of regents."

The regents are scheduled to meet again July 27 and 28. An agenda for the meeting has not yet been posted.

However, it's clear from Dickey's May 25 presentation that the center staff has put some time into evaluating its top three sites. While public details about the plans are sparse, the 12-page presentation suggests the objective is to consolidate the center's scattered local operations to maximize visibility, establish a separate entity from the university and foster a scientific community."Dr. Dickey spoke to the board of regents regarding our desire to consolidate if necessary resources were available," Dorsey said. "That's as far as it gone."...........................................................................

..........................................When i first heard about this i felt Bryan had a second chance at getting this land right, back in Febuary when they decided to fix up the golf course they made a big mistake but now if they go on and build the science center instead of fixing the golf course that will look great with the Presido apartments in that area and the new overpass and Hampton apartment also Bryan will bring more college students to town and we all know how important the students are to Bryan-College Station the City Coucil has to accept the offer, it is an excellent chance to finally improve the look of villa maria/south college but this is the Bryan City Council and they have dropped the ball in the pass so it will interesting to watch how this unfold

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When i first heard about this i felt Bryan had a second chance at getting this land right, back in Febuary when they decided to fix up the golf course they made a big mistake but now if they go on and build the science center instead of fixing the golf course that will look great with the Presido apartments in that area and the new overpass and Hampton apartment also Bryan will bring more college students to town and we all know how important the students are to Bryan-College Station the City Coucil has to accept the offer, it is an excellent chance to finally improve the look of villa maria/south college but this is the Bryan City Council and they have dropped the ball in the pass so it will interesting to watch how this unfold.
When I first read about the possibility of A&M using this land I did not think it would be a good idea. I thought the land would be great for mixed use development including condos, retail, hotels, maybe even a convention center if College Station failed to build one on their third try. However, after a bit more thinking about this, I really think this would be a great thing for Bryan. This would make great use of land around the railroad tracks that might have been harder to developed in a mixed use situation yet would potentially leave tens of acres available for retail, restaurants and hotels.

The fact that at least one staffer at the Health Science Center views the area as "economically depressed" should serve as a wake up call for the City Council. The Business Council seems to "get it". I would not usually be in favor of an unelected body having so much power if their proposals didn't make so much sense. I did some driving around last week and was horrified to find a street I lived on during college(Verde Dr.) had become a virtual slum. There are vacant buildings with spray paint on them and a still nice apartment complex seems to be figting for its life and now has a gated entry. When I lived in the area the streets around Pepper Tree were already in decline. Earlier this year a murder occured there. Ironically, Beck and MLK still unfairly are often thought of as "slum". The improvements to both since the 1980's, as mentioned before on this site, are simply amazing. It is streets such as Verde that have actually declined.

Bryan needs to wake up and focus redevelopment on areas that should be middle class to high-end student housing. I do not have a vendetta against the poor or working class(that would be self-loathing behavior), I just feel areas so close to Texas A&M should be student housing, not HUD subsidized slum. The Presidio apartments are awesome, but if the nearby streets contain criminal elements will the developers decide to simply cut their losses and not futher invest in the area? I would love to see incentives and tax abatements given to developments like the Presidio and Reveille Ranch(formerly Campus Lodge) in return for purchases and redevelopment of nearby blights in the areas around the complexes. All of the housing wouldn't have to be for the rich kids, but a good portion should be. All of Bryan would greatly benefit from the spending these kids with parents' credit cards do. I'd love to see Bryan's share of A&M college students on the level of about 35%. We can keep quiet neighborhoods quiet while still reaping the benefits of retail spending these students would provide.

OK, I got off topic. Long story short, if the Muni area contained an A&M development there would be no fear that that portion would ever "go downhill", and the facilities would eventually draw hundreds or even thousands of folks northward, and would surely benefit the College Ave. and "Central Business District" corridors.

Edited by Scotch

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I did some driving around last week and was horrified to find a street I lived on during college(Verde Dr.) had become a virtual slum. There are vacant buildings with spray paint on them and a still nice apartment complex seems to be figting for its life and now has a gated entry. When I lived in the area the streets around Pepper Tree were already in decline. Earlier this year a murder occured there. Ironically, Beck and MLK still unfairly are often thought of as "slum". The improvements to both since the 1980's, as mentioned before on this site, are simply amazing. It is streets such as Verde that have actually declined.

Bryan needs to wake up and focus redevelopment on areas that should be middle class to high-end student housing. I do not have a vendetta against the poor or working class(that would be self-loathing behavior), I just feel areas so close to Texas A&M should be student housing, not HUD subsidized slum. The Presidio apartments are awesome, but if the nearby streets contain criminal elements will the developers decide to simply cut their losses and not futher invest in the area? I would love to see incentives and tax abatements given to developments like the Presidio and Reveille Ranch(formerly Campus Lodge) in return for purchases and redevelopment of nearby blights in the areas around the complexes. All of the housing wouldn't have to be for the rich kids, but a good portion should be. All of Bryan would greatly benefit from the spending these kids with parents' credit cards do. I'd love to see Bryan's share of A&M college students on the level of about 35%. We can keep quiet neighborhoods quiet while still reaping the benefits of retail spending these students would provide.

Say, You just read my mind completly, i noticed pepper tree about 2 months ago when i heard a friend of mine got cut by someone, so when i went over there i was not expecting to see what i saw, the second time i went there it was a group fight in the middle of the street so i went down Verde and i agree with what you said it was empty apartments and kinda a depressing area, also i grew up on beck when i was 6 in 1992 i moved to Bittle Ln/ Jordan Loop which in the early 90's was like the second Beck but its way different there now Beck has a new look and a new feel but what can you do about places like Pepper Tree, Verde, West MLK ,East MLK, Emerald Park, Bryan is a city that has 70,000 people and has is a more diversity city than its city to the south but actually in some places college students actually make the area feel cool like on Villa Maria west on the other side on 2818 streets like Sandalwood Ln, Cobblestone Ln, Jaguar Dr also another 1 is the Villa West on Fin Feather those streets like Navidad St, Rio Grande, Leon, Frio Circle its kinda similar a ghetto mixed area with college students but the students there seem to make it work make the area standout but in a good way, and 1 more thing Bryan has to improve the apartments closer to A&M i went down Natalie and Boyett Strett over towards the back of North Gate and that whole area kind looks like Pepper Tree in a way you cant have that so close to A&M ................................................................................

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................................. The whole area from Villa Maria West to 2818 has change a whole lot Bryan in the past 5 years has change the look and even though a couple of shopping stores maybe a resturant or two would have been a step up i feel that the Science Center brings more than money to that area also 1 last thing Bryan has to fugure out quickly how there going to bring life into Texas Ave where H.E.B. and Krogers were and now soon to be gone Albertsons because that area kinda reminds me of the Manor east Mall when it just sat there all those years i hate driving down that street and seeing all thoses empty buildings

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I read this article with great interest. I was also slightly amused when I saw the typical response from the city of Bryan, "news to me". Anyway, while I think it would be extremely beneficial for Bryan to have the A&M Health Science Center located within its borders, I wonder what the actual economic benefit would be. I do think it would add some prestige to Bryan and further strengthen its ties to A&M. However, as another member of this forum once mentioned when discussing the golf course site as an alternate site for the Blinn campus, its so close to College Station that most students & faculty would simply turn around and head back south on Wellborn Rd or 2818 when done at the campus. The property would not be taxable by the city or BISD. Do you think that the area immediately surrounding it would actually benefit other than visually from the addition of the campus infrastructure? My hope is that it would transform the neighborhoods south of Villa Maria all the way to Northgate from declining areas to revived ones. I dream of neighborhoods like SMU or Greenville in Dallas and the medical district or north of downtown areas in Houston where people desire to live in and renovate the homes due to their convenient & popular locales. It could attract more people & destinations to the downtown area. However, those are all a long shot I'm afraid. What are some other feelings on this subject?

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It's pretty amazing that Forestwood appears to be such a nice street with well-kept homes but yet is bookended by some pretty ghetto streets in Peppertree and Verde.

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It's pretty amazing that Forestwood appears to be such a nice street with well-kept homes but yet is bookended by some pretty ghetto streets in Peppertree and Verde.

It won't be long until Forestwood, Manorwood, etc. are taken over by the "ghetto streets". Unfortunately, the City of Bryan is well known for abandoning older neighborhoods in favor of the latest flavor of the month.

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Dickey: Consolidated facility could aid area

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

Full article

An expansion and consolidation of the Texas A&M Health Science Center is needed to better serve the community and the growing number of students seeking degrees in the health field, says the woman spearheading the drive for a new campus.

"We think everyone is better served by a consolidated campus," said Dr. Nancy Dickey, the center president. "Part of academia is having bright minds come together. Sometimes the most productive conversation of the week is when you cross paths with a colleague who says, 'I want to talk to you about something.' That's much more difficult to happen if you are physically dispersed."

Dickey's comments came during an interview with The Eagle in which she outlined her vision for the Health Science Center's future.

Dickey declined to reveal the process being used to review prospective sites for a new campus, but she did vigorously promote the idea that the center needs to grow and move its facilities to one location.

Three potential sites have been identified for the new Health Science Center campus - the land occupied by the Bryan Municipal Golf Course on Villa Maria Road, Texas A&M University System-owned acreage at George Bush West and F.M. 2818 and the privately owned Westinghouse property on the east side of Earl Rudder Freeway South.

The Bryan City Council discussed the golf course property in closed session last week, but took no action. The council is holding a special meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday to again address the issue in executive session. It will then publicly consider adoption of a resolution endorsing location of a Health Science Center campus on the property.

Location of the center on the golf course site will "stimulate economic development, create additional employment opportunities, attract private medical research companies and assist in the redevelopment of South College Avenue," the resolution says.

It also notes that the council recognizes the need for an affordable city golf course at another site should the center choose to locate on the existing course.

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Sites

Each prospective site for a new campus has something different to offer.

The largest being considered is at George Bush West and F.M. 2818. The 230-acre site already is owned by the Texas A&M system but has no current infrastructure.

Use of the 130-acre golf course property would require approval by the Bryan City Council, and that potentially could raise political controversy, especially if the city decides to make a gift of the property to the Health Science Center, as has been suggested.

The Bryan location also offers the opportunity for high visibility and distinct separation from the Texas A&M campus.

Bryan Business Council President Mitch Morehead has said he thinks it's a good idea to offer the land as a gift and have the city reap the return of having a top-notch facility in the midst of its central business corridor.

The smallest property being considered is the Westinghouse property - 54 acres on the east side of Earl Rudder Freeway near the Emerald Forest and Raintree subdivisions.

That land also offers a separate identity but is probably too small and leaves little opportunity for expansion, according to a brief report Dickey delivered to regents during a closed session in May.

At least 100 acres is needed for the Health Science Center project, said Alicia Dorsey, the center's vice president for communication and development.

There's no timeline on the project until a decision is made by the regents, Dickey said.

"Academia never makes big decisions quickly," she said. "You make yourself go slow and check the options because it pays off in the long run. The conversations are occurring now, and that alone is a substantial step forward."

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Nice Letter to the Editor from former councilman Russell Bradley:

Letters to the Editor

Special to the Eagle

For Bryan's future

On Thursday, the Bryan City Council will have the chance to begin to drastically change our city for the better. College Station was able to do just this when it secured Post Oak Mall. Now we need to follow suit and become the home of the Texas A&M medical school.

The direct investment by A&M will pale when compared to the potential private sector dollars -and all in an area of our city that certainly is in slow decline.

While I have supported the rebuilding of the Municipal Golf Course at its current location, we can still have and should have a municipal course, but somewhere else.

Being able to change one's ideas when better opportunities arise is what vision and leadership are all about.

I urge the council to adopt the resolution being presented at Thursday's council meeting. We simply cannot let history pass us by again.

RUSSELL BRADLEY

Bryan

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I hope it happens. Then College Station can't take all the clam for A&M anymore. Eventhough some of A&M's Facilities are already in Bryan City Limits.

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On the Bryan Council agenda today.....

Health Science Center plan on agenda for Bryan council

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

The Bryan City Council will conduct a special meeting Thursday to decide whether it supports closing the municipal golf course to make way for a Texas A&M Health Science Center campus.

Also on the agenda is consideration of a proposal that the city host a summer collegiate baseball team at the Travis Athletic Complex.

The meeting will begin with a closed session at 11 a.m. at the Bryan Municipal Building on Texas Avenue.

The council will consider signing a resolution supporting the location of a Health Science Center campus on the Villa Maria Road property where the golf course sits.

The resolution does not indicate whether - or if - the city will request compensation for the land. Bryan Business Council President Mitch Morehead has said he thinks the city should give away the land and reap the benefits of having a major landmark in Bryan's central business corridor.

The city budgets about $900,000 a year to maintain and operate the golf course. Building a new course would cost about $8 million.

"I don't think anyone has decided whether we'll sell it, give it away or lease it," Councilman Jason Bienksi said of the golf course property. "I definitely support working with the Health Science Center about possibly locating within the city limits of Bryan."

Although university buildings are tax-exempt, meaning the city would realize no property taxes if it dealt the site to the center, state funds could be used for street, water and sewer improvements that could attract surrounding development.

Morehead has suggested that a new golf course be built near Lake Bryan.

Bienski, however, said municipal golf courses are not profitable ventures and he would support pursuing other options, such as a co-owning a course with College Station.

Bryan Mayor Ernie Wentrcek has a different perspective.

"I have only one out of seven votes, but I would definitely want to have a municipal golf course," he said. "I think probably 80 percent or more of the golfers in this community rely on the municipal golf course. If A&M was to approach us and say that is the site they wish to build on, that is when we would want to look at numerous options and have some public input."

Bryan's director of special projects, David Storrie, oversees the golf course and its finances. Storrie said Wednesday he has not had any conversations with the mayor and council about the future of the course.

Wentrcek said there won't be any discussion on selling or giving away the land until after the board of regents makes a decision. The board meets later this month, but an agenda has not yet been posted.

"This has been strictly a 'what-if' scenario," Wentrcek said. "It would be a wonderful opportunity for Bryan to have such a school and facility within our city limits. It's imperative that the council look at this."

The council also plans to discuss whether it will support a collegiate summer baseball team composed of players from Big 12 universities, including Texas A&M.

Local company Infinity Pro Sports has offered to pay for about $1 million worth of field renovations at the Travis Athletic Complex in order to accommodate the new team.

David Schmitz, Bryan's parks and recreation manager, is recommending that the council enter a 10-year lease agreement, investing no money in the renovations but providing free usage of the field for the first five years. After that, the sports company will pay about $200 per night of usage. The estimated income to the city for the second five years of the agreement is about $40,000, according to a memo submitted by Schmitz.

If the agreement is approved, the new team is expected to start its first season next summer.

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So nice of them to want to condemn homeowners in the area to declining neighborhoods and rising crime so that golfers won't have to drive a little further.

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Council backs golf course site for health center

By APRIL AVISON

Eagle Staff Writer

After meeting in closed session for more than an hour Thursday, the Bryan City Council unanimously agreed to support bringing a new Texas A&M University System campus to the site of the city golf course on West Villa Maria Road.

Officials of the system's Health Science Center have expressed interest in the site for an expanded and consolidated campus, but the ultimate decision will be made by the A&M System Board of Regents. The issue has not been scheduled for consideration by the board.

After Thursday's meeting, Mayor Ernie Wentrcek said having the Health Science Center campus in Bryan would spur economic development and create the opportunity to use state funds for infrastructure and the redevelopment of nearby South College Avenue.

Two other sites have been identified for potential locations for the Health Science Center campus - the privately owned 53-acre Westinghouse property on the east side of Earl Rudder Freeway South and a 230-acre system-owned tract at F.M. 2818 and George Bush Drive.

The 80-year-old golf course, referred to as "Bryan Muni," sits on about 130 acres. Health Science Center officials have said they want to build on an area that offers a separate identity from Texas A&M University and contains at least 100 acres to allow room for expansion.

Dr. Nancy Dickey, president of the Health Science Center, said Thursday she had not yet received a copy of the resolution signed by the City Council but expects the document to be delivered to her and members of the Board of Regents.

"I think as we evaluate the options, the action by the City Council certainly clarifies the status of one of the potential sites," Dickey said. "We obviously thank them for their vote of confidence, but it doesn't change our timeline. It would be premature for me to do anything but thank them for recognizing the value of the project. We continue to look at a variety of options."

The Bryan Business Council, which serves as the city's economic development arm, has repeatedly expressed its support of constructing the campus in Bryan.

Business Council President Mitch Morehead said after Thursday's meeting he will begin drafting a document to "prove [Villa Maria Road] is a viable location" for the center campus.

"We'll put together some information as it relates to the site and its connectivity to the A&M campus," Morehead said. "We want to promote our location."

Bryan leaders have discussed for years whether a golf course is the best use for the Villa Maria property. The council decided in February that the city would perform a facelift on the golf course, but it put the upgrades on hold when discussion of the Health Science Center campus arose in May.

Councilman Mike Southerland said he hopes the business council will launch an aggressive campaign to recruit the center to Bryan.

"I want to make sure we put our best foot forward to win this Health Science Center here in Bryan," he said. "At first I wasn't sure if this was the best location, but it's what staff recommends and we want to do whatever we can to get the Health Science Center here."

Although the council's decision to support the center was unanimous, members Mark Conlee and Ben Hardeman were out of town and could not attend Thursday's meeting.

Wentrcek would not discuss whether the city intends to sell, lease or give away the land.

"We haven't even gotten to that yet," he said.

College Station resident Roy Phillips, who has played golf at the Bryan course about twice a week for 15 years, said he'd be disappointed to see it closed.

"It's been around for a while, and they have very reasonable prices," Phillips said. "It's a reasonably challenging course. I would hope it would stay where it is."

Wentrcek has said if the Bryan course closes, he hopes to pursue other options. Some other options already have fallen through, however. Briarcrest Country Club officials said they told the mayor they would not be interested in selling the private course, and the College Station City Council declined to pursue a joint venture with Bryan.

Another option that has been discussed is building a course near Lake Bryan.

"I think that would be nice," Phillips said. "I also think it would be expensive."

Hugh Seale, president of the Brazos Golf Association, said Lake Bryan isn't a convenient location for a golf course.

"I am hoping, if it comes to this, the City Council will put some people on a committee that can look at alternate sites for a golf course," Seale said. "The people who are making these decisions now don't know anything about the blue-collar people who play municipal golf. Just to say Lake Bryan because it's there and we own the property, I think that would be a gross mistake."

Dennis Goehring, executive director of the Bryan Business Council, said he's thrilled that Bryan is on the list of places being considered for the Health Science Center campus.

"It's an opportunity that we have in Bryan, Texas, that we need to capitalize on," he said. "These opportunities don't happen every day."

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Bringing back an old topic. My how things can change in a year and a half. Not only did Bryan secure the Texas A&M Health Science Center, though at another location in west Bryan, but they've already broken ground and the plans appear to be more grand than I'd ever imagined. I feel it will be a true boon for western Bryan, including Traditions, and the city as a whole. Texas A&M Health Science Center at Bryan, who would've ever thought.

But, thats not what I'm revisiting here. I want to go back to my original post regarding the Bryan Municipal Golf Course. I was driving down Villa Maria this past weekend and passed over the new underpass at Wellborn Road which appears to be very close to completion. I noticed that the road you now travel on appears that it will no longer be used once the underpass is complete. It looks like Villa Maria will shift about 30 yards to the south to travel under Wellborn. I'm curious if the land that was carved out of the Golf Course to make a temporary roadway will be returned to the course or left as public right of way.

Secondly, the issue of selling or redeveloping the course doesn't seem to be as dead at City Hall as I'd previously thought. An article in The Eagle recently mentioned that a multi-year pollution study very recently made another report indicating Municipal Lake is largely free of arsenic. It even went on to say that fish caught there were edible...not sure about that one, don't think you'd catch me eating anything out of there. However, thats much better news than a few years ago. If I'm not mistaken the article said that though the lake water is largely clean, the sediment may still contain some trace levels of arsenic. And, that there were 25 "hot spots" throughout the golf course that still had elevated arsenic levels though the overall area is now considered clean. The kicker is this, the state of Texas has now mandated that all public spaces, including parks, must have pollution levels no higher than a typical residence. Meaning, I believe, that if this area is to continue to operate as a city park and golf course that the remaining arsenic "hot spots" and sediment will have to be removed.

Obviously, that would be a large undertaking and I don't believe any further claim settlement money is coming from Elf Atochem who caused the arsenic to be there in the first place....the money the city did get was long ago spent I'd surmise. My thinking is that this new state regulation may make it all but impossible for this land to continue to be used as it currently is. I believe I read in the article that if the area was used for something else, ie. bulldozed and redeveloped into retail, office, apartments or what have you, that they wouldn't have to remove the remaining trace amounts of arsenic as it would no longer be a publicly owned and used space. I hold hope that there are enough visionaries in Bryan and the community at large that can see the huge amount of acreage right in the middle of town is much better suited to be redeveloped. It could literally transform all of central and south-central Bryan up to the College Station/A&M border. With the underpass near completion, travel time between Traditions and the new Health Science Center in west Bryan and Miramont and all the other development in east Bryan will be cut down dramatically. This site can be a pinnacle of success for the city.

Lastly, the city could take the money from the sell of the land and develop a new municipal course, with a little further investment, either at the intersection of University & Hwy 6 as mentioned before in conjunction with College Station, or they could go out to Lake Bryan and build it there furthering the recreational amenities at that location, or any host of other locations that aren't suited for better use.

This may be a pipe dream but I'm holding out hope.

Edited by Bryan Guy

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Didn't there used to be a swimming pool there, a long time ago (filled in in the late 90s)?

Yes, I remember taking swimming lessons there in the 80's. You can still see some of the outline of the pool if you walk near the original location. To my knowledge it had a lot

of leaking problems, and was filled in because of high upkeep costs. But I may stand corrected regarding the closure reasoning.

Edited by txshady

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Ten year update can be summed up as: AgShacks takeover some established neighborhoods, a "SuperPark" is in the works for the old Muni site, and finally, a study is being done for the "potential" of this area of town, branded as Midtown.

The area has had loads of potential for a while, it's nice that decision makers have begun taking steps to help the area redevelop in a more organized manor. 

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