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Reporter’s Notebook: Council chamber progress

Friday, October 10, 2014 by Austin Monitor

New Council Chambers taking shape … We just got a sneak peak at the refurbished City Council chambers and it is spectacular. That brand-new dais is carved ‘pecky Pecan,’ according to Bob Nagelhout, whose company designed and built the dais, matching podium and two rows of desks on each side of the center aisle for city staff and media types. The new look is very similar to the original look, since the Nagelhout company built the original dais and accompanying desks. There’s still more work to do, some wiring, etc., but the new chambers should be done right after the November election …

Trying times for some at City Hall … The revamping and rewiring of City Hall has been tough for city staff and some citizens trying to attend various commission meetings as well as City Council committees. Take, for example, the Council Health and Human Services Committee, which met in the Boards and Commissions Room on Wednesday to talk about the hot topic of social services contracts. It was standing-room-only, packed with people interested in whether their agency might have a shot at funding in the next cycle. But those left outside could not see or hear the meeting because the TV screens in the City Hall atrium were not working. According to Keith Reeves, manager of ATXN (formerly known as Channel 6), everything will be posted online in time for Council’s return to its refurbished chambers on Nov. 6 …

We just can’t get the image out of our heads …  Much of what happens at the Travis County Commissioners Court is routine stuff: issuing proclamations, paying bills, approving personnel requests and so on. But one normally routine item that has been on the commissioners’ agenda for about a month — a Mass Gathering Permit application to hold a Mud Volleyball Tournament — caught our attention. David Rosen with the Pay It Forward Entertainment Group proposed a day of volleyball games held in mud pits at the Bloor Ranch on Blue Bluff Road. He estimated that the event would draw about 3,000 people who apparently like the idea of drinking adult beverages and playing in the mud. Rosen initially proposed the tournament for mid-September, but didn’t have all his paperwork together to get the county permit. He pushed the date back to mid-October and promised to return with everything in order. But at a third hearing on the permit this past week, Rosen could not be found, and it was announced that he was out of state and not available. So, the permit was officially denied and apparently there will be no spiking in Mudville next weekend. But there’s always next year …

Jackie’s back at City Hall … The Zoning and Platting Commission and the Planning Commission may hold a joint work session in the near future to address issues relevant to both groups. ZAP Commissioner Jackie Goodman, a former City Council member who took part in her first ZAP meeting in August after an extended break from civic duty, brought up the possibility of what she called a “retreat” at Thursday’s ZAP meeting. Commissioners generally welcomed the idea, and Chair Betty Baker told Goodman to put her “pencil to it.” Goodman referred to an “appeal that couldn’t be granted” as one issue that could be addressed. She was likely referring to an appeal that a group of Allandale residents brought in September regarding a proposed parking garage for Charles Maund Volkswagen (See Austin Monitor, Sept. 16).

(Monitor reporters Jo Clifton, Tyler Whitson and Mark Richardson contributed to this report.)








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