Monday, March 2, 2020 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Drip, drip, drip

Givens has broken… It turns out that Givens Pool is failing faster than predicted, and a February memo from the Parks and Recreation Department advises its immediate closure. The department identified Givens as one of seven pools in critical condition in the 2014 Aquatics Assessment. Since then, $260,000 has been spent toward its continued operation, but leak tests show that the past year’s water usage has increased 186 percent. Parks department director Kimberly McNeeley wrote, “Allowing this substantial water leak to continue is fiscally irresponsible, creates considerable water conservation concerns and has undesirable environmental impacts to the watershed. In consideration of water loss, previous attempt to make substantial repairs, regular preventative maintenance and concerns regarding structural integrity of Givens Pool, PARD recommends Givens Pool be closed while a new facility is built.” Luckily, $6 million has already been earmarked for that purpose from the 2018 general obligation bond, with construction slated for 2022, to be completed in 2023. The memo suggests the process start earlier than that in light of the failure.

An act no one wants to see… Stress around the spread of the coronavirus continues to mount. Last week, Austinites found a way to channel all that stress, with a call to cancel South by Southwest. A Change.org petition has been signed by about 10,000 people at the time this was published, and is directed toward Austin Public Health, SXSW, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Centers for Disease Control. South by Southwest has said it has no plans to cancel the festival, which begins March 13, though the organization did tell Rolling Stone that it has seen a “handful” of cancellations due to the virus, and several other tech conferences have been canceled. Meanwhile, Austin continues to prepare for the spread of COVID-19. As KUT reported over the weekend, the city and Travis County have been collaborating daily to monitor the spread of the pandemic, though both entities stress that current containment strategies are working and the current risk to residents is low.

A leak of a different kind… Last week’s Library Commission meeting was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. However, when the time arrived, there were fewer people than expected. Eventually, a few employees from the public library trickled into the meeting room at the North Village Branch and explained that the Central Library had been evacuated an hour earlier and that the emergency evacuation had delayed their arrival. A spokesperson for the library division told the Austin Monitor that the evacuation was due to a gas leak in the building. All personnel and visitors were asked to immediately vacate the building, after which the gas leak was located, inspected and repaired. The Central Library opened in the morning for business as usual. It seems that the meeting time of the Library Commission may have been the only thing adversely affected by the gas leak.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Elizabeth Pagano and Jessi Devenyns.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin Public Library: This is Austin's public library system, run by the city.

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: The city department responsible for the city's park system, rec centers, and associated infrastructure.

SXSW: Organizers of the massive annual festival that takes over the City of Austin each March. SXSW has donated to the Capital of Texas Media Foundation.

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