Talking Points

Talking Points

These are ideas for speakers at the Advisory Commission meeting on Tuesday, June 13.

Since it appears pretty clear that stopping the sale of the hangar and preventing development of the space is impossible, we need to salvage what we can throughout that process. Rather than fighting against the development and making powerful enemies, the following takes a Problem > Solution approach to try and make the best of a bad situation. Hopefully, in time, we may even be able to see the creation of an New Open Community Sports Center - even better than the existing hangar. 

These ideas can be divided up among the different speakers in sequence. Once we have enough speakers to deliver the complete structure of our message, we can then fill in the middle with any extra speakers who can simply provide their Personal Impact statements.

Who is willing to speak in favor of pétanque at the next meeting of the Advisory Commission?

It will be at 6PM on Tuesday June 13, 2023

at the Austin Energy Headquarters Assembly Room 1111

4815 Mueller Boulevard.

(This is about two block north of the hangar).

Click the button below.


The Browning Hangar has been very important as a wide-open, covered space to a lot of community groups over the years.

The hangar has great intrinsic value as simply as a huge, unique space, like no other place in the country. Just to be in the space is an experience, like stepping into a large theater. The fact that the hangar is free and open to everyone, so that the entire public can stroll through and can come and go as they like - is just plain fun.

A wide range of communities have depended on the hangar for a long time. The Farmer's Market, the exercise groups, the sword people and the pétanque players.

Our Credibility

The Browning Hangar has been very important as a wide-open covered space to a lot of groups over the years.

Petanque players have been some of the most active for over 10 years. The mayor even made a proclamation in 2014. Ironically, the marketing materials used by the development company feature images of dozens of happy people, us, playing pétanque.

Pétanque players are the one group that spends the most time in the hangar of all. Many of us use the hangar about 8 hours a week. Nobody uses the hangar more than we do. Nobody understands and appreciates the value of the hangar more than the pétanque players who depend on the open space the hangar offers week after week.

For many years,  the pétanque community has been, literally, pulling in people in right off the street to teach them how to play. It's been very rewarding to see so many new folks get interested in that game and to see how it has become a very important part of their life.

Partly due to the availability of the hangar, we are proud to say that the Austin pétanque community has become one of the strongest in the country, even hosting national tournaments that draw in players in from all across the country.

Pétanque players have always gotten along with all the other groups who use the hangar at the same time.

Even though there is a place to play pétanque at Paggi Square, that space was not well designed for that use. Without lights, parking spaces, or bathrooms it can't compare to the hangar.

The Problem

Normally, we reserve the Browning hangar for special pétanque tournaments, but recently we were shocked and surprised to be told that we could no longer have events there. In fact, it came as a total surprise that the hangar would be closing, apparently forever as far as the pétanque community is concerned.

No more weekly games, no more local tournaments, no more national tournaments. To bring in players from around the country for big tournaments we, naturally, depend on having a reliable place to organize competitions out of the rain. 

The closing of the hangar doesn't just effect the pétanque community but everyone who uses the hanger. No notice, no nothing. Where is the "community involvement" in that? How is the so-called "Public Outreach" not just asking for a rubber-stamp approval after all the important decisions have been made?

If you really ask the people who actually make use of the hangar if they want it turned into just another restaurant or some sort of shopping mall, they will surely say that Austin already has enough of that sort of thing and that the Browning Hangar is a totally unique place that should be respected for what it is.

The Browning Hangar has a lot of value simply because it is a big, open space like no other. It offers protection from the sun, wind, and rain. There is no other covered space that is lit at night. Without it there is no place else for us to go.

Once the hangar is closed, the communities that have grown up around the hangar will be made homeless and will suffer. Without a reliable place to meet, people will give up on the activities they have come to depend on.

For pétanque in particular, dozens and dozens of people have been introduced to the sport because of the hangar. Without a reliable place to play the game the Austin pétanque community will go from being one of the strongest in the country to just a shell of a once-vibrant community.

Austin development public relations materials like to talk about creating "community" and "equity" but the reality is, with the selling off of the hangar, the effect on the communities that use it will be the opposite, and will essentially starve and make homeless those groups that depend on that space for their activities.

It's now recognized that a large part of the population, particularly young people are suffering from loneliness, depression, and anxiety. People need connection with others and exercise to be healthy. Since pétanque is something that everyone, of any age can participate in it couldn't be a better example of what true "development" should support - not eliminate. Pétanque really does give people the sort of connection with community that they need to be psychologically healthy.

We don't believe that closing the hangar is in the best interest of the many communities that use it. We would ask if the people making the decisions concerning the hangar really understand, or care about the effect they are having. Do they really understand how important the hangar is to us just as it is?

In spite of all the downsides to having the hangar sold off and developed into something, we are determined to face the situation and try to make the best of it.

(What exactly is the plan for the hangar? We don't know! Apparently, the plans are secret even to the Historical Landmark Commission.)

We, as representatives of a community that actually uses the hangar, are here to offer suggestions on how to minimize the negative effects that closing the hangar will have on us and the other communities that have traditionally depended on it.

First, let"s hear a little bit more about what the hangar means to individuals....

Personal Impact

Since news of the closing of the hangar has come to us so suddenly, this evening we only have individuals from the pétanque community present to talk about how they are going to be affected. But to be sure, there are many other communities out there that love the hangar and will be negatively affected. Certainly, if these groups only knew what was about to happen to them, they would be here speaking about the same concerns we have.

 Personal Impact Statements - Various Individuals

At this point, we you can speak about your experience playing at the hangar and how losing that space and not being to play pétanque, not being able to see your friends on a regular basis, and losing your community will negatively affect your life.

You can speak about how beneficial the pétanque community has been for you.

You can talk being outside, in the fresh air, the exercise. Talk about how the game itself make you a better person.

The Solution

Just as the Farmers Market was able to get a dedicated space for its activities, we feel that the communities that use the hangar deserve an alternative space. In fact, we are hopeful that the closing of the hangar can bring about the building of a new, even better, facility for pétanque players and the other communities that depend on the hangar.

The sudden closing of the hangar is likely to generate quite a bit of hostility toward the City of Austin, the Catellus company, and whatever organization purchases the property. To prevent a situation similar to the ongoing the Save Zilker Park arguments an alternative solution needs to be in place. We are eager to help.

It would be good for the process and timeline of closing the hangar to be transparent, so that all the stakeholders know what to expect. It would helpful if the communities affected could participate in creating the schedule.

A cell phone tower might provide revenue.

Environmental Concerns

It seems likely that over the history of the hangar chemicals associated with aircraft and aircraft maintenance such as gasoline, oil, and other chemicals, perhaps even tetrachloroethylene were absorbed directly into the ground. If present, there may be a risk that construction on the site will release these chemicals back into the environment. Has any testing for this type of contamination on the site ever been performed? Have any monitoring test wells been drilled inside the hangar and outside the hangar in the surrounding areas? Have these wells been monitored over time to determine if any chemicals are being spread though groundwater motion? Abandoned underground chemical storage tanks may allso be a concern.

Is the City of Austin responsible for having this environmental testing carried out, and would the city be responsible for any remediation deemed necessary before the property could be sold?

Keep parts of the hangar open for as long as possible

It is unknown how long construction on the hangar may last. The process may take years. Therefore, we need to make sure that even though the entire space is expected to eventually be consumed, only the space under active construction is ever closed off to the public.

Rather than just closing off the entire property at the beginning of construction, we need to keep as much of the hangar space available for as long as possible during construction. Step by step, only the areas under active construction should be closed off. As much space as possible should be left open for the communities to use.

 Also, the granite courts beside the hangar should be left open and available as much as possible.

If necessary, temporary uncovered areas of ground should leveled off and made available. Temporary fabric tent structures with relatively high ceilings and open sides can be erected nearby to protect people from the elements.

During construction, access to the light switches should not be closed off. Access to the temporary bathrooms should remain open. They should be moved around to be available as construction zones change.

Design and build a New Open Community Sports Center

There appears to be enough space on the hangar property to build a large open structure to take the place of the hangar. This facility will, with the associated foot traffic, complement whatever is being developed in the existing hangar.

For the moment, we may call the new facility New Open Community Sports Center. Just like the existing hangar is today, this space will be open and free to all the groups who want to use it. And just as the hanger is available to be reserved for special events like our national pétanque tournaments, the new facility can be reserved and used, and generate income, from special events.

The New Open Community Sports Center will be a large, covered, and well-lit space just like the existing hangar. It will also include petanque "terrains" outside of the building, under the shade of large trees, for when the weather is agreeable and for large tournaments.

You don't have to go far, just across the street, to see a good example of what can be accomplished. The Pharr tennis courts. A bond of $4 million, $2.6 million spent.

The New Open Community Sports Center will be a great opportunity to involve students from University of Texas School of Architecture who can work with the Mueller design engineers.

The finished project will have all the latest and greatest design features, including being totally accessible. It will include real bathrooms and achieve LEED (Energy and Environmental Design) certification. It can have solar panels that generate all the necessary power, a rainwater collection system, and more. 

The existing parking lots can be redesigned along with the development in the existing hangar. The design will have beautiful landscaping and include AIPP (Art In Public Places) projects.

This new structure can be designed to be an even better community space than the existing hangar, with artwork and other amenities.

The Conclusion

A big, free, open space like the hangar, where community groups can gather, is a very important structure for the communities to have. If the hangar is to be closed off and developed, then an alternative space should be built.

The Muller Development Plan should be modified to include a New Open Community Sports Center. This means that if the property is sold the creation of a new replacement structure should be part of the plan.

We would like to advance this solution by asking the Advisory Committee to put this issue on the agenda for the August 8, meeting. (If that is not too late.)

We need to get the creation of the New Open Community Sports Center project in the works. Can we have this committee put the new project on the agenda for discussion?

Keep as much of the inside of the hangar, and outside spaces open as long as possible during construction.

Just like the Parr Tennis center the New Open Community Sports Center, will be an example of a state-of-the-art facility we can be proud of. The New Open Community Sports Center will be the biggest and best facility of it's kind and will be of value to all sorts of communities that depend on a large open space for their activities.

As one of the last projects of the Mueller Airport Development, this new project can be something the Catellus company and all of Austin can be proud of.

Reference Links

Government Links

Mueller Master Development Agreement

2004 agreement between the City of Austin and Catellus defining the sale, management and redevelopment of the former Mueller Airport.

Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Plan Implementation Advisory Commission
(Next meeting is June 13, 2023 not far from the hangar)

Information on how to signup to speak at the meetings 

Redevelopment Division
The Redevelopment Division provides social and economic value to the City of Austin through a variety of redevelopment and place-based initiatives.

Understanding the Development Process

New Open Community Sports Center


Inspirational examples of different types of pétanque facilities, "boulodromes", and fabric sturctures that could take the place of the Browning hangar.  


Parks and rec and community rec usage already permitted for OS-2.

Development regs, property setbacks and max square footage, and site is permitted for potential alternative revenue stream of leasing comm tower built on roof of hangar.

Ordinance No. 20200123-077: Amending Mueller PUD Zoning District - Effective Feb 3 2020

Ordinance doubled the allowed square footage for cocktail lounge in OS-2 from 5000sf to 10000sf. It mentions both the hangar and the Catellus admin office building.

Ordinance No. 20090423-087: Amending Mueller PUD Zoning District - Effective May 4 2009


The Mueller PUD land use plan under the Original Ordinance, as amended, is modified and amended as shown in this Part 6 as to land use areas, density, site development standards, sign districts, and permitted uses.Subsection C
2) A cocktail lounge is a permitted use in the historic hangar and Mueller Central site within Lake Park in OS-2 land use area. (edited) 

Who is willing to speak in favor of pétanque at the next meeting of the Advisory Commission?

It will be at 6PM on Tuesday June 13, 2023

at the Austin Energy Headquarters Assembly Room 1111

4815 Mueller Boulevard.

(This is about two block north of the hangar).

Click the button below.