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Lamar beach

YMCA and city working together for more parking at Lamar Beach

Monday, May 7, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

In late 2016, a revised version of the Lamar Beach Master Plan made its way through City Council. It was designed to benefit all the associated stakeholders of the parkland, West Austin Youth Association, Austin Pets Alive! and Austin High School, which all use the current park facilities.

Although the list of changes is long, on the list of improvements was an intent to improve parking in the area, and the city seems to have found the solution through a jointly funded parking facility just south of the YMCA. Council is slated to vote on the agreement for the project in May. Currently, it is Williams Field.

“There’s not been much play on that field in years,” said Board Member Fred Morgan at the last meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board. “So (the parking lot) would at least do something to this place to make it useful.”

The proposed parking lot would have 100 to 150 spots and would cost about $1 million, $375,000 of which would come from the city Parks and Recreation Department. Maintenance costs would be split between the YMCA and the city of Austin. To further help offset costs and encourage circulation in the lot, according to Ricardo Soliz, Parks and Recreation Department acting assistant director, “we’re looking at metering the parking facility.”

Once the process of constructing this parking lot begins, Williams Field would be moved west to a new location still next to Austin High School, and Austin Pets Alive! would be relocated as well.

Chair Jane Rivera noted that it sounds like “the whole idea is that the pet center needs to be out of the flood plain.”

Hearing the words “flood plain” triggered some jitters among the board members. Board Member Dawn Lewis wondered what the flood mitigation plan was going to be, while Board Member Romteen Farasat wanted “to express frustration, or concern at least, about oils washing off of the parking lot and into the river.”

James Finck, the CEO of the YMCA of Austin, explained that impervious cover mitigation techniques would be addressed in the design stage. However, he said that the idea is to make the back of the parking lot into a pretty sizable rain garden.

Nevertheless, Lewis expressed her distaste for the plan. “We’re going to take this and put a parking lot on our precious green space,” she said. “I just want to say I’m just not that excited about it.”

She abstained from the vote to recommend that Council approve the agreement. The rest of the board voted unanimously to recommend approval. Board Member Frank Ward was absent.

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