|Pflugerville City Council Endorses Proposed
Austin Jockey Club Track
On Tuesday evening, October 26,
the Pflugerville City Council voted unanimously to endorse the Austin
Jockey Club’s proposal to build a horse racing track to the suburb
just north of Austin in Travis County, Texas. The council’s unanimous
decision came after more than four hours of public comment, much of which
was vocally against the proposal.
Scores of people were not allowed into the meeting because the room
at the Pflugerville Justice Center was filled to capacity. Some of the
audio portion of the meeting was piped outside; inside, the crowd remained
The race track opponents argued that it would lead to an increase in
crime, alcoholism and gambling addiction, and did not belong in Pflugerville.
However, the council members argued that the social concerns were largely
unfounded and that the potential economic benefit made the project worthwhile
for the city.
"If we send a message to the development community that we don't
want business and we,re closed for business," the city would have
to substantially hike property taxes to pay for the necessary capital
projects, said Council Member Duane Blakeslee. "I'm not willing to
make that commitment to double your taxes in the next five years."
Austin Jockey Club organizers brought letters of support from community
leaders in Selma to the meeting to bolster their contention that the track
would be a good neighbor. Selma is home to Retama Park, a horse track
near San Antonio that is run by many of the same people who are backing
the Austin Jockey Club.
The horse track is planned for 200 acres east of Pflugerville on land
adjacent to Travis County's Northeast Metropolitan Park. The land is not
currently in Pflugerville's city limits but is scheduled for annexation
Track owners estimate that the $15 million project would bring in $490,000
in taxes and fees for the city, Travis County, the school district and
the emergency district.
After annexation, the city could also be on the hook for widening Pecan
Street, a two-lane road that provides access to the track site, at a cost
of up to $7 million.
The issue now goes to the Texas Racing Commission (TRC), which will
probably vote next month on relocating the Jockey Club's license from
an East Austin site to the location near Pflugerville. The TRC has the
final say on the relocation.
The decision left opponents of the horse track seething and promising
to fight the track at the Racing Commission.