Today, like just about any other beautiful spring day, I witnessed 23 parents and about the same number of children at the soccer field which is crammed into the northeast corner of the large tract of land known as the Hancock Golf Course. Playing golf: less than a dozen people. These numbers are typical of many days throughout the year: two to four times the soccer players as golfers on 10% of the land for soccer and 90% for golf.
Sometimes I see young adults in what appear to be pickup soccer games. I think this is an unauthorized use of the field, which contributes to the premature seasonal destruction of the turf. Yet the parents of the pickup players pay the same taxes for this land as do the golfers, as do you and I. They no doubt feel entitled to their public land.
I’ve long considered Hancock to be a jewel in the neighborhood crown—but it’s a crown scant few of us ever touch. We can’t even set foot on the course without violating the rules: golfers only. I wonder why we are paying for such a huge park-like setting that loses money every year as a golf course when we are so starved for any kind of parkland in this area. I do believe it’s time for the neighborhood associations of Hyde Park and Hancock to take another look at this issue.
I love history and I love the idea of having the oldest public golf course in Texas. What I love even more, however, is beautiful parkland available to all people within walking distance. Have you ever been to Central Park? Have you seen how many people flock to its various settings? We have such a possibility right here in our midst. I struggle to understand our protective love affair with the sacred cow called Hancock, which runs in complete contradiction to so many of our other values: unpolluted waters, equal access to all taxpayers, natural open spaces, and family-centered parkland.
I propose we ask the city to sell or lease a small corner of Hancock for development and use those funds to develop the entire grounds into a proper park for all citizens. Let’s admit defeat: virtually no one plays golf there and it’s costing us to prop up that myth. Let’s convert that defeat into a success: change a losing operation for a dozen golfers into an inner city park for hundreds to enjoy every day.