The History of The Wilderness at Lake Jackson

Golf Course History in Brief

1976 – 480 acre Wilderness Park is acquired for $1,244.81 per acre ($600,000). Initial plans call for a possible 9-hole public golf course.  The idea of a 9-hole golf course is not pursued for the Wilderness Park.

1982 – Brazosport Recreation Review, compiled by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, surveys area residents as to their recreational needs and priorities.  Lake Jackson citizens list a public golf course as their 5th highest priority.

Mid 1980’s – Dow Chemical announces the new Plantation Village Subdivision on the site of the former airport property.  Initial, preliminary plans call for an 18-hole golf course.

Late 1980’s – Dow removes substantial acreage from the Plantation Village Subdivision and establishes the Dow Nature Refuge.  Included in this acreage is the land previously considered for a golf course.

Nov. 1988 – City Council appoints Golf Committee.

1989 – City Council to look at possible locations for a public golf course. Savings & Loan crisis hits area.  American Savings & Loan fails and goes into receivership.

Late 1989 – City Council authorizes Mayor Doris Williams and City Manager A.A. “Mac” MacLean to negotiate with the Resolution Trust Corporation (operating American Savings & Loan) to acquire the property adjacent to Wilderness Park for the purpose of a public golf course.

Early 1990 – City Council authorizes purchase of lands for public golf course.

May 1990 – City Council announces plans to secure loan to acquire 400 acres of land west of the City’s existing Wilderness Park for $1,000/acre ($400,000).  Public input received.

May 31, 1990 – City acquires 400 acres of land from the Resolution Trust Corporation (operating the former American Savings & Loan) for a public golf course.

May - June 1990 – Golf Committee interviews and evaluates companies to design and build the public golf course.

July 2, 1990 – Upon recommendation of the Golf Committee, City council hires Golf Services, Inc. to perform feasibility study for proposed golf course.

October 15, 1990 – Golf Committee delivers results of feasibility study to City Council.

Late 1990 – President Bush announces No-Net Loss of Wetlands Policy, which formally takes effect in early 1991.

November 1990 – City contacts U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have 400 acres delineated for potential jurisdiction wetlands.

November 1990 – City Council holds public hearing to consider annexing 400 acre public golf course site.

December 1990/January 1991 – Golf Course Development groups make presentations to City Council.

Feb. 1991 – City signs contact with Golf Services, Inc./Potomac Finance to build/design/operate public golf course (contract is for 12 months).

March 1991 – City Council approves ordinance forming current Golf Committee consisting of five members to oversee directions of the public golf course and report to City Council.

May 1991 – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determines that potential jurisdictional wetlands exist on the 400-acre golf course site.

August 1991 – City requests re-evaluation of wetlands determination by the Corps of Engineers after evaluation criteria is changed by Corps.

Late 19991/Early 1992 – Corps of Engineers indicates they still believe there are potential jurisdictional wetlands on the 400 acre site, particularly the back 200 acres.

Early 1992 – City hires environmental consultants (3D/ESI) to perform environmental assessment on the “front” 150 acres.

February 1992 – Contract with Golf Services, Inc., Potomac Finance expires.

May/June 1992 – 3D/ESI submits to City Phase I Environmental Assessment and Wetlands Reconnaissance for northern 150 acres

Summer 1992 – Corps of Engineers requests additional delineation work.

Fall, 1992 - Northrup & Associates hired to perform additional wetland delineation on front (northern) 208-acre tract.

November 1992 – Northrup & Associates submits modified Phase II wetland delineation on 208 acre tract.  7.5 acres identified as wetlands.

December 1992 - Report conducted by Northrup & Associates submitted to Corps of Engineers.

March 1993 – Corps of Engineers issues a response of non-concurrence and requests further delineation work.  Corps also requests that the City delineate and note the presence of small, ponded depressional areas scattered throughout the site.

Summer 1993 – Corps of Engineers requests the City to cut 16 east-west transects across 208 acre public golf course site to facilitate delineation work.

September 1993 – Field work begins on 16 transects with Corps of Engineers personnel delineating along 8 transects and Northrup personnel doing the other 8 transects.

March, 1994, Application for Section 404 permit submitted to Corps of Engineers.

May, 1994 – Completed wetland delineation submitted to Corps of Engineers.  Study finds 20.88 acres of contiguous wetlands and 3.46 cumulative acres of “small ponded depressional areas” for a total of 24.34 acres out of 208-acre site.

July, 1994 – Golf Committee, at request of Corps, reviews alternate sites for public golf course and recommends original site on SH 332.

Aug. 1994 – Letter received from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services stating “should the Corps elect to grant a permit over our objections, we would have the option of elevating their decision to the next higher level according to the provisions of understanding between our two agencies.  In all likelihood, we would do so.”

March, 1995 – Petition submitted to place proposed ordinance on ballot to restrict the golf course property and Wilderness Park to a wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve.

May 6, 1995 – Voters reject proposition to create wildlife sanctuary and nature preserve by 72% (2,746 votes) to 28% (1,069 votes).

Summer, 1995 – Houston lawyer John O’Quinn offers City approximately $240,000 for the 400-acre golf course site.  City declines offer.

Aug. 25, 1995 – Corps agrees to wetlands delineation on the 208 acre site.

September 1995 – Meeting held in Galveston with City Official, Corps officials and representatives of the Resource Agencies (i.e., Texas Parks & Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, etc…).

September 1995 – Alternate site analysis submitted to Corps of Engineers.

December 1995 – Corps of Engineers recommends granting City Section 404 permit for 208 acres public golf course site.

December 1995 – U.S. Fish & Wildlife elevates Corps decision, ultimately to top Corps officials in Washington, D.C.

February 12, 1996 – City receives Section 404 permit from the Corps of Engineers

May, 1996 - Sharon Stewart, Houston Audubon Society and the Houston Sierra Club sue the Corps of Engineers and the City of Lake Jackson to stop the proposed golf course project and challenge the manner in which the Corps grants 404 permits.

August, 1996 – City requests proposals from interested golf course architects.

September 1996 – City Council awards contract, upon recommendation of Golf Committee, to Golfscapes to design the 18 hole public golf course for the 208 acre site.

November 1996 – Developers north of FM 2004 offer alternate site for golf course.

November 1996 – City commences annexation procedures for 718 acres west of the city near proposed golf course site.

Nov./Dec. 1996 – Alternate site (FM2004) reviewed and is determined to exceed $6 million bond issue limit, due to land costs $5,800/acre (one of the reasons this area was not recommended by Golf Committee in 1994).

December 2, 1996 – Developers north of FM 2004 withdraw their proposal.  City Council calls bond election for January 18, 1997 for $6 million to build 18 hole public golf course on 208-acre site near SH 332 west of the City.

December 16, 1996 – City announces plans to create 1,000 acre Lake Jackson Wilderness Park combining land owned by the City, Dow Chemical and Dr. Frank Grady (if golf course issue is approved by voters).

December 30, 1996 – Early voting begins at City Hall from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday (except holidays – January 1, 1997).

January 13, 1997 – Early voting ends.

January 18, 1997 – Election Day.   7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at regular voting precincts.

January 18, 1997 – Golf Course Bond Issue approved.  2075 (50.7%) – 2019 (49.3%). 

March 6, 1998 – Partial final judgement by Jude Kent. City/Corps prevail on most issues but permit is remanded back to Corps for further review on the possible direct or indirect impacts the project may have on migratory birds, habitat and forest fragmentation.

Oct. 6, 1998 – City hires Carter/Burgess to perform supplement to the environmental assessment.  Cost is approx. $18,000.

August 1999 – Carter/Burgess submits report to Corps for review.

November 29, 1999 – Corps reissues Permit

January, 2000 – City is approached by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation about their interest in acquiring a conservation easement on all or part of the golf course tract, as well as Wilderness Park.

Feb. 2000 – Plaintiff’s notify City of their intent to reopen the case before Judge Kent.

March 23, 2000 – Corps suspends permit in order to have an independent evaluation of the permit award process reviewed.

May 8, 2000 – Following independent review indicating the Galveston Corps office acted properly in its permit review process, the permit for the golf course is reissued.

May 30, 2000 – Motion filed by Plaintiffs to reopen the case.

May 31, 2000 – Court reopens case

June, 2000 – City receives copy of appraisal report from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on the golf course tract and Wilderness Park.

July 3, 2000 – City Council authorizes Golfscapes to complete design and preparation of specifications.

August, 2000 – National Fish and Wildlife Foundation submits an offer of $737,500 for a conservation easement for the entire 894 acres (golf course tract and Wilderness Park) and other proportional offers for various portions of this land.

September 5, 2000 – City Council decides not to accept proposal by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

December 13, 2000 – Court grants defendant’s motion for summary judgement and denies Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgement (Corps/City win, Plaintiff’s lose).

February 8, 2001 – Plantiff’s file appeal to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 20, 2002 - A U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals three judge panel has affirmed a favorable decision on the City of Lake Jackson’s proposed golf course.

April 15, 2002 – Authorize I.R.I. Golf to prepare updated financial and market analysis for the proposed golf course and assist with preparation of request for proposals for management companies.

April 15, 2002 – authorize financial advisor to prepare official notice of sale and to negotiate sale of $6.0 million General Obligation Bonds approved by the voters in January, 1997.

April 15, 2002 – authorize architect Jeff Brauer to seek construction bids for the Wilderness Golf Course.

May 8, 2002 – authorized the issuance of $6,000,000 in bonds.

June 3, 2002 – award bids for golf course construction to Mid-America Golf and Lanscape.  Award bid for civil infrastructure to Uticon, Inc.

June 3, 2002 – Request Lake Jackson Development Corporation to extend annual funding for the golf course.

September 3, 2002 – Authorize Brown, McCarroll to prepare draft management agreement for the golf course.

October 7, 2002 – Authorize staff to negotiate a design/build contract with Elite Construction for the construction of the maintenance building/cartbarn and clubhouse

November 4, 2002 – Approve contract with Kemper Sports for the management of the Wilderness Golf Course.

February 17, 2003 – Approve golf course logo design contest.

May 1, 2003 – Kemper Sports hires David Myrick as the Wilderness Greens Supt.

May 5, 2003 – Authorize issuance of $1.2 Certificates of Obligation as additional funding for golf course.

June 2, 2003 – approve lease of golf course maintenance equipment.

August 4, 2003 – Approve “The Wilderness” logo.  Logo was based on an entry submitted by Andy Morris.

October 30, 2003 – Completion of golf course grassing.