Friday, May 16, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

City hires outside law firm to handle Capitol View Corridor violation

After a closed-door executive session, City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve $1.8 million in legal fees for an outside law firm to protect the interests for a possible violation of the Capitol View Corridor.


After some confusion and speculation over what the money was for, the City Manager’s Office issued a statement Thursday, saying outside counsel was necessary after it was discovered that the Waller Creek tunnel’s Inlet facility ran afoul of the Austin’s Capitol View Corridor.


The statement explained that when the city learned about the problem, construction of the facility halted. In the interim, the City Attorney’s office has hired an outside law firm – Reeves and Brightwell – to protect the city’s interest in pursuing a fix to the problem.


“It is our sincere hope that our consulting engineers (Espey Kellogg Brown and Root) will work cooperatively and efficiently with the City to rectify this situation, and that the City will not be required to spend the bulk of the attorney fees that Council Authorized today,” read the statement.


During executive session, Council members received a briefing on the problem. Later City Council held a tight-lipped, 7-0 vote in favor of authorizing those funds. Council Member Kathie Tovo was the only one to speak from the dais, directing curious citizens to the statement released by the City Manager’s office.


Capitol View Corridors were established in 1983, and have separate state and city protections. In all, there are about 30 corridors that are intended to preserve views of the Capitol from various vantage points in the city.


In this case, the proposed inlet facility would have interfered with the Waterloo Park Capitol View Corridor. The facility, located north of 12th Street, in Waterloo Park, is designed to divert water from 100-year floods.


In its statement, the City Manager’s Office assured the public that the inlet redesign won’t change the original end-of-year deadline for finishing the Waller Creek Tunnel and flood controls.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

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.

Capitol View Corridor: Capitol View Corridors are established by a state overlay that limits construction downtown along corridors that protect views of the Texas State Capitol building

Waller Creek Tunnel: The Waller Creek Tunnel is a major infrastructure project running through the heart of downtown Austin. Its construction will ultimately allow the removal of some properties in the region from the floodplain.

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