On Tuesday night, many Dog Parkers received an e-mail from Laura L. Her lobbyist friend had made calls to the Dallas representative, Dan Branch, who originally sponsored the the bill—to sell the land that makes up half our Dog Park—at the State Cemetery Board's request. Branch decided to withdraw the bill from consideration, so the Committee would not have a chance Wednesday to vote on it and pass it forward. For those of you who have more modern computers than mine, you can hear the relevant final minute of the Land & Resource Management committee meeting at the following link: http://www.house.state.tx.us/media/welcome.php (Jump down to the broadcasts created on 4/1. Click on 81st Legislature. Then scroll to Land & Resource Management. This info is courtesy of Dog Parker Laure McLaughlin.) With this news, everyone at Dog Park enjoyed a brief sigh of relief.
It was brief, however, because we still need to be watchful for a couple of reasons. One is that the bill can still be tacked on to a larger one without discussion. Laure warned that the bill may receive a hearing next week, so we need to keep an eye on it. (I signed up to receive alerts at My TLO, but I have not gotten any. Laure recommends checking out the agendas for future committee meetings, at www.capitol.state.tx.us/Committees/MeetingsByCmte.aspx?Leg=81=H&CmteCode=C360 ) Also, Laure and Laura both recommend that we continue to keep the issue alive by writing to all the pols in the Travis County delegation, which include Senator Watson and Representatives Bolton, Naishtat, Howard, Dukes, and Rodriquez. Again, their contact information can be found through www.capitol.state.tx.us
Another reason to worry, I think, is that although the land does not have an interested buyer at the moment (which may have been one factor in the decision to withdraw the bill), Laura reports that Gary Bradley, a notorious Austin real estate scoundrel, may have "his eye on the property." A quick Google and Dog Park grapevine check suggests that Bradley, who was responsible for the Circle C development in South Austin and was at the heart of the development controversy that spawned Save Our Springs [S.O.S.] in the late 80's, is, like many of us during these troubled economic times, on the down-and-out. Dog Parkers in the humble but proud Rosedale neighborhood say that Bradley has been living among them for years and driving beat-up trucks instead of the high-end foreign sports cars he once tooled around in. All this is news to me. I was a bubble-headed 20-something living with five strangers in an East Side wreck when S.O.S. was a big deal. All our fortunes have risen and sunk since then. Austin's economy is constantly on the roller-coaster of boom or bust. So when we come out of the current bust, Bradley and a whole host of fellow scoundrels are likely to be waiting with cash in hand to develop our town and our Park whether we like it or not. So, let's be careful out there!
(Many thanks to Laura LaValle, Laure McLaughlin, and Chris Taylor for their e-mails and updates and knowledge of how the Texas State Legislature works. Thanks to Dean for the scoop on Rosedale.)