Council postpones hearing, vote on Holly Shores Park to Jan. 30
Monday, December 16, 2013 by Chris Thomas
City Council members postponed a planned public hearing and vote last Thursday on the redevelopment of Festival Beach on Lady Bird Lake into the Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach.
The hearing and vote were postponed until Jan. 30 after neighbors of the planned park complained loudly that they were only given 48 hours notice. While the city has been soliciting public input on redevelopment of the area, no input was heard on the overall master plan until it was presented to the Council.
This was met with outrage from Berta Delgado, speaking on behalf of the park’s namesake, Edward Rendon Sr. “It is disturbing the Parks Board did not make a public announcement. This is our community, how could we have known? We would have been able to prepare.”
Notice of a public hearing before the Council was only given 48 hours prior to the meeting. To make matters worse, the item was called up at 11:42pm.
Chris Yanez with the Parks and Recreation Department admitted the process to notify the public was flawed but asked to present the Master Plan due to the developer had flown in from Boston. Yanez recommended the Council “not close the public hearing this evening and not holding the vote this evening but rather postponing those until Jan. 30.”
The developer, Chris Matthews, described the plans for Holly Shores. If approved by the Council next month, the redeveloped area would include approximately 9 acres of newly dedicated parkland – the site of the decommissioned Holly Power Plant – and approximately 90 acres of existing parkland along the north shore of Lady Bird Lake from I-35 east to Pleasant Valley Road and south of Canterbury Street. The cost of the redevelopment is estimated to cost as much as $100 million over a 10-year period.
According to the city’s master plan for the park, it would connect streets and parkland around the current Austin Energy substation and would keep and reuse all the current buildings in the area such as the Nash Hernandez Building, Fiesta Gardens and the shoreline warehouses. It would also seek to improve the water quality around a new beach and lagoon.
“It is a community park, that water is dangerous, it is toxic, people have committed suicide, people have died, people have drowned. Who’s going to benefit from this? We are not in agreement with this,” Berta Delgado said.
As for the scheduling, Mayor Lee Leffingwell chided the Parks Department. “This is not very good scheduling or planning. This is wasting a lot of the people’s time and the Council’s time.”
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