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Friday, December 13, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano
Council moves ahead on plans to overhaul Auditorium Shores
Despite talk of postponing their decision in the face of public scrutiny, City Council members moved forward with plans to rehabilitate Auditorium Shores Thursday night.
“Delays into January, when work is supposed to start this month, it triggers a
As has been
In the end, the decision was unanimous. Council made a few amendments, including a provision that would allow on-leash dogs on the main lawn of the park, which would enable dogs to get to the off-leash park from the parking lot.
Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley told Council that she didn’t think that there would be a problem with the events scheduled to take place in the future, though she didn’t commit to a timeline for relocating the festival.
“It’s a big unknown, I
While construction is
“Our need for predictability from year to year is pretty strong and for this process to take much longer puts our festival in jeopardy,” said Garza “I think six weeks puts our festival in jeopardy, for sure. Our preference would have been to have agreements with all of the stakeholders before the final design got voted, because then we are kind of lost in the shuffle. That’s my fear.”
Though many people asked Council to postpone their decision to allow for better distribution of plans and more public input, several organizations spoke in support of the plan.
Representatives from South by Southwest, the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Parks Foundation and the Austin Trails Foundation all threw their support behind the plan.
Council Member Kathie Tovo made a small, ideological change to the plans, asking that the main lawn of the park be re-labeled on plans. Currently the lawn is called the “Event Lawn,” and Tovo asked that be changed to “East Lawn.”
“We’ve heard from lots of constituents who are very concerned that we continue to regard our public parks, especially this park, as a park and not as an events venue,” said Tovo, who pointed to language in plans referring to the park as a “major outdoor venue.”
“I think it is extremely important to continue to regard our parkland for its primary purpose, which is to serve the residents of Austin who want to go there,” said Tovo.
To that end, City Council stressed the fact that the number of events slated for Auditorium Shores will not change, and that number will remain static at 25.
As drawn, plans now will allow for dogs on about 10 acres, with just under 5 acres of off-leash dog park. The off-leash area can be down-scaled for larger events, with a movable fence making that area as small as 3.2 acres on occasion.
Michelle Hazan was one of several people who spoke out against the overall process.
“The fight over Auditorium Shores is not just about dogs. It’s about the public process being bypassed and about a private company – C3 – donating money and then dictating policy on how public land is used,” said Hazan.
Some Council Members disagreed with that assessment.
“In some respects, C3 has been pointed to as an organization that is buying the city. I just couldn’t disagree with that notion more,” said Martinez. “We, as a community, have agreed that we need to improve Auditorium Shores. I understand that folks have different feelings about different groups, but I feel compelled to say that this is not a C3 issue. This is a parks and city issue,” said Martinez.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell built off that sentiment, saying, “(We are) finally realizing that we cannot pay for a decent parks system alone, by ourselves. We have to seek out public-private partnerships to do a good job.”
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Auditorium Shores: Austin park located on Lady Bird Lake between South First Street and Lamar Boulevard.
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
C3 Presents: C3 Presents is an Austin-based concert promotion, event production and artist management company that is perhaps best known for the Austin City Limits music festival. The company was founded by Chares Attal, Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker in 2007.
Transmission Events: The organization behind Fun Fun Fun Fest and bookings for Mohawk, among other things.