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Lamar beach

Parks board OKs Lamar Beach Master Plan

Thursday, December 8, 2016 by Joseph Caterine

In advance of its appearance at the Dec. 8 City Council meeting, the Lamar Beach Master Plan was approved with recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Board when it met on Dec. 6.

“This is a bad deal for the parks department in phase one,” said Mark Vane, the only board member who voted against the item. “We’re just betting that phase two comes, and I hope for everyone it does.”

Vane proposed two amendments, one to prioritize construction of the Pressler Street extension during phase one of the plan, and the other to lower the priority of the construction of a parking lot just south of the YMCA. The first amendment passed, but the second did not.

“The parks department is giving away a lot in phase one,” Vane said. “It’s frustrating to give a lot to a commercial entity like the YMCA, even if they are a nonprofit. The shovels could turn on this parking lot first thing out of the box, and nothing else could happen there.”

According to Kimberly McNeeley, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, the items for phase one – 11 in total – are listed in no particular order. She said that the items would be ordered after the plan is adopted. “We will try to coordinate them based on what makes the most sense,” she said.

Board Member Susan Roth said that she was OK with both amendments but that, at the same time, she did not want to disrupt the process unnecessarily. “I definitely want to make sure we keep the flexibility for the whole construction process,” she said. “I don’t want to make this so restrictive that we interfere with the flow of the project.”

Board Member Rick Cofer said that he could support the first amendment with the knowledge that it could be done expediently, because the city controls pedestrian and bike access improvements; however, he said that he could not support the second because it could put the private partners involved in the planning at a disadvantage, especially the YMCA.

“What’s astounding to me about this process is that you have a number of successful and influential organizations that arrived at a consensus, which is not easy,” Cofer said.

James Finck, the CEO of the YMCA of Austin, told the Austin Monitor that Vane’s characterization of the parking lot as benefiting only the YMCA overlooked how it would increase access to Lamar Beach’s parkland and trails.

“When the city doesn’t provide that infrastructure, it goes on everyone else like Austin High, the YMCA and the neighborhoods,” he said.

Roth made the motion to approve the resolution. “I feel like the department and the communities involved did an excellent job on this master plan effort,” she said. Cofer seconded.

The motion passed 7-1, with Vane opposed and board members Tom Donovan, Pat Wimberly and Francoise Luca absent.

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