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Parks board OKs plan for update to Barton Springs Pool

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 by Mark Richardson

The Parks and Recreation Board, after a couple of false starts and an additional review by a subcommittee, voted 6-0 last night to send the Barton Springs Master Plan on the City Council. However, according to Board members, the resolution is only the beginning of their work on the project.


Originally conceived as a plan to bring the facilities around the city’s landmark up to date, the Master Plan has evolved into a tug of war between those who want to improve the pool’s infrastructure and those who want to return the springs to a more natural state. The plan has drawn fire from scientists, environmentalists, and some factions of the Parks Board itself.


The City Council voted to authorize the study in October 2006, and appointed the design firm of Limbacher & Godfrey to develop the plan beginning in February 2007. The Council has allocated $6.2 million in capital improvements funds for short-term projects on the pool.


“The main thing we are doing with the passage of this resolution is sending the plan on to the City Council to get the process started,” said Board Chair Linda Guerrero. “If the Council accepts our recommendations, these projects will come back to us (the Parks Board) before they are implemented.”


Following the recommendations of a joint Parks Board/Environmental Board Subcommittee, the Board made four recommendations to Council, including:


  • Accept the plan as a resource for short-term projects and concepts for possible long-term projects, which would require extensive public input from stakeholders, boards and commissions and City Council;
  • Have the City Manager instruct the Parks and Recreation Department and the Watershed Protection and Development Review Department work cooperatively to complete short-term projects with stakeholder participation. The resulting data, analysis and public input will provide information to further evaluate for long-term projects.
  • The plan should be referred to as Barton Springs Pool Master Plan: Concepts for Preservation and Improvement—to acknowledge that additional data and analysis are needed; and
  • The Joint Subcommittee of the Environmental Board and Parks and Recreation Board should continue in an oversight capacity, hosting representatives of all stakeholder groups as short-term projects are implemented and long-term projects are considered in the future.

 The full Environmental Board must also approve the subcommittee report before the plan goes to Council.

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