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City budgets for adding artwork to several pools under renovation

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

The city will have a modest Art in Public Places budget for each of five city pools currently under renovation or reconstruction, including Barton Springs, according to information provided yesterday to the Art in Public Places panel.


The 2006 bond issue provided updates and upgrades at four existing pools: Deep Eddy, Bartholomew, West Enfield and Ramsey.  Deep Eddy, Bartholemew and West Enfield are packaged together as the city’s first design-build pool projects. Ramsey is scheduled for improvements next year. And Barton Springs had an infusion of city funding for short-term project improvements.


The AIPP panel’s job will be to decide whether the artwork should be bundled or separated, call for one artist or many or be limited to a specific type of artwork for each, said Administrator Meghan Turner.


Gary Gregson of the Parks and Recreation Department presented an overview of some of the initial work at Barton Springs Pool. Improvements in the design work, currently 30 percent complete, include reworking the tree court with deck areas, adjusting the south trail and moving the south gate, as well as adjusting utilities and adding accessibility to the pool area.


The art around such a project, artist and architect Murray Legge noted, could be a calling card for an artist. He questioned whether the current budget, of only $33,000, might be rolled into something larger for the overall project.


“This is such an important public space in Austin, and it’s such a small number on the list,” Legge said. “If this is just part of the master plan, a huge multi-year thing, can we even do anything significant with that sort of money?”


Turner said she would need to research what might be the AIPP’s ultimate budget. Chair Risa Puleo, an arts administrator, agreed with Legge’s assessment and said it would be important to have all the details on the table, before deciding to go forward either piecemeal or as pieces of a larger package.


Places that the staff is considering for art would include the deck area overlooking the pool, as well as the south entrance and possibly appropriate furniture art along the trail.


At this point in the process, with only 30 percent design work done, there is plenty of time to bring an artist on board to coordinate, Gregson said.


Deep Eddy already has a mural project tied to its bath house renovation, so panel members were interested in hearing whether the $35,000 remaining in the AIPP budget could be shifted to Barton Springs. Turner said she would discuss the possibility with others in her department and return with an answer.


Rey Hernandez presented updates on West Enfield and Bartholomew pools. West Enfield is leaking, and a new shell is being put in the pool, which led panel members to suggest the possibility of art incorporated into the pool shell or stairs. The pool, which will likely be shaped like an “L,” will serve as both a lap pool and one with shallow depths for children at one end.


The total arts budget on the project will be $23,300.


Bartholomew, which is a larger facility near Mueller with a dive well, is being completely reworked into a more attractive facility, with various water features and possibly a splash pad and slides, for the area’s young families.


The pool had structural damage and has been closed since last year. Hernandez said the city is pushing hard to get Bartholomew, one of city’s larger capacity pools open first, even before Deep Eddy and West Enfield.


The city AIPP budget for Bartholomew is $48,700.


Ramsey Pool is on the list for next year’s renovations. Gregson said that might be delayed, given the Parks Department’s recent need to shift $1.1 million to make permanent repairs to the Liz Carpenter Fountain at Butler Park.

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