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Council members back plans to rehab Barton Springs

Thursday, January 15, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Council Member Sheryl Cole Wednesday hosted a news conference at the Bath House at Zilker Park to discuss her support for the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan. Council Members Lee Leffingwell and Mike Martinez, as well as Robin Cravey of the Friends of Barton Springs Pool, joined her.  The item is set for today’s Council agenda.


The Council called for the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan in 2006 to address improvements to facilities, grounds, infrastructure, water quality and salamander habitat. The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department retained Limbacher and Godfrey Architects who after lengthy public participation by both the Friends of Barton Springs Pool and other stakeholders presented the final plan before council on Dec. 18, 2008.


Cole spoke about her own sons’ love of the pool, chasing turtles and salamanders. Leffingwell noted that time did tend to blur all memories but that he remembered the Barton Springs Pool of his childhood as “a lot cleaner” with a pool that was “in a whole lot better shape.” He noted that the pool had driven the city’s environmental policy and deserved protection.

Initial improvements were intended to address water quality. The Council approved funding for removal of the gravel bar, replacing and repairing bypass tunnel joints and renovating the Sunken Gardens as well as work to study water quality, improve pool cleaning operations and enhance both the grounds and the existing bathhouse in 2007.

According to this week’s Council agenda resolution in support of the master plan, future enhancements and concepts envisioned within the Master Plan include: restoration of the historic bathhouse to more closely resemble its original design; grounds improvements in and around the pool area; rehabilitation of Eliza Springs and reconnection of the spring run to the pool; addition of a small changing facility and/or restroom on the south side; restoration of the area immediately downstream of the pool; and improving water movement through the pool based on proposed hydrodynamic modeling, and aimed to enhance water quality.

These concepts would each go through a public review process. Since the proposed projects are currently unfunded, they would also require future Council approval of funding, perhaps through a bond election.

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