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Landmark Commission allows

Wednesday, December 13, 2000 by

Demolition of Deep Eddy house

West Austin EMS Station to locate on site

The Historic Landmark Commission has cleared the way to demolish the neglected caretaker's frame house at Deep Eddy Pool, making way for a long-awaited EMS station to serve West Austin. The Parks Board recommended use of the site for an EMS station in March. The City Council approved the project on May 5.

Members of the West Austin Neighborhood Group (WANG) told the Historic Landmark Commission that the West Austin EMS station was first proposed in 1984. James Allman of WANG told the Historic Landmark Commission at a recent meeting that the public good to be served by the station far outweighs the historic value of the structure and its role in history.

The EMS station is extremely important to WANG, as well as the Old West Austin Neighborhood Association, Rollingwood and the Zilker Hike and Bike Trail, Allman said. According to Allman, there were more than 1,300 medical interventions in the area last year, roughly four per day. Any delay in building the station puts the safety of the growing area in jeopardy, Allman said.

"There is simply no way this facility can measure up to the needs in the current society," Allman said. "I've long been an advocate of historic zoning—as far back as 1980 and as late as last year here—but this is a clear case that the public good must come first."

The caretaker's house, at 2307 Foster Ave., was built in 1935, according to city staff research. Because of flood damage in 1936—about the time it was turned over to the city—there would be "significant problems in the preservation of the house," said Steve Sadowsky, deputy historic preservation officer. The roof, removed because it was a danger, had never been replaced. Both on-site rehabilitation and the relocation of the house were considered to be problematic.

The house does have historic significance. Brother and sister Henry and Mary Johnson established Deep Eddy as a swim center at the turn of the last century. The Johnson’s father Charles operated a rock quarry where the parking lot is today. Later, the Johnsons sold the site to the Eilers.

The Eilers built a concrete pool on the site and constructed summer cottages overlooking the pool and the river. A carnival, a laundry and a free movie house were placed on the site and removed in 1925. By 1935, the Eilers had sold Deep Eddy to the city of Austin. Archives show that the land included a bathhouse, concession stand and 19 rental cottages, but no record of the caretaker's cottage. The park and pool—with a new bathhouse constructed through the Federal Works Progress Administration—opened in July 1936.

The recommendation from city staff, which the Historic Landmark Commission supported, was to demolish the house but place a historical display documenting the history of the house and its association with Deep Eddy Park. Commissioners agreed that its location should be easily accessible to the public, rather than be located within the EMS station. .

Planning Commission okays

Riverbend Church's PUD

Commission postpones remainder of agenda one week

Planning Commissioners met briefly last night to recommend a zoning change for Riverbend Church, 4212 Capital of Texas Highway North, from I-RR (Interim Rural Residential) to PUD (Planned Unit Development). The City Council is scheduled to annex the 56-acre tract on Thursday, along with an additional 214 acres in the area. The property was annexed in 1984, but was de-annexed in 1989 because the city did not provide utility service.

Jeff Howard, attorney for the church, said the church completed its master plan for the property in May, before learning that the city planned to annex the land again. Greg Guernsey of the Development Review and Inspection Department told the commission, “There’s been a great deal of negotiation” between the city and the property owner. “This would not go forward if the church did not agree,” to the annexation and zoning, he said.

Under HB 1704, the landowner claims grandfather privileges that allow compliance with the 1984 Lake Austin Watershed Ordinance, as opposed to current water quality regulations. However, Guernsey said the church has agreed to additional setbacks and increased water quality controls.

Howard said the church plans a 2,000-seat pavilion, which he said would be used for a variety of purposes.

Chair Betty Baker warned Howard that any change to the church’s plan would require a traffic impact analysis and compliance with the Hill Country Roadway Ordinance. She said, “I presume you have worked with the neighbors.”

Howard replied, “Yes. They’re very supportive.” Possibly because of the weather, there were no speakers either for or against the zoning plan. All eight commissioners present voted in favor of the zoning. Commissioner Ray Vrudhula was absent. The rest of the agenda—except for statutorily required disapprovals of subdivisions—was postponed until next week.

©2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Icebound? . . . The LCRA Board of Directors, scheduled to meet at the agency’s headquarters at 9 a.m. today, may be meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel instead. Since many members would be staying at the hotel, LCRA officials say if conditions are icy this morning, the board will meet at the hotel. For more information, call 473-3200 for a recorded message after 7 a.m. today . . . Election . . . They probably won’t have to worry about chads or recounts, but the LCRA board plans to select a new chair, vice chair and secretary this morning. If they follow board tradition, directors will select Pamela Akins, the current vice chair, to lead the board for the next year. Akins, an attorney, is from Marble Falls. The current board secretary, Gale Lincke of La Grange, is likely to become vice chair . . . No carp . . . The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has notified the city that the agency will not approve a plan to release sterile carp into Lake Austin to eat hydrilla. TPWD does not want to risk spread of the carp—a non-native species—beyond the lake. . . Also on ice . . . The city closed offices early yesterday, sending home all but essential personnel and canceling the Robert Mueller Plan Implementation Advisory Commission meeting. Chair Jim Walker said he hopes to reschedule the meeting for next week . . . Walker did attend the meeting of the Environmental Board subcommittee looking at the Stratus proposal. Subcommittee members told city staff they want to know more about the requirements and interpretations of Stratus’ 10-A permit under the Endangered Species Act. Bill Bunch of the SOS Alliance said he believes Stratus must comply with stricter regulations under the permit than the city has assumed under the state's grandfather law, HB 1704.

© 2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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