President’s Report

Council reaffirms Master Plan

by Robin Cravey

Master Plan session, 2007

The City Council reaffirmed it support of the Barton Springs Master Plan at their August 25th meeting.  The vote was unanimous.  And Mayor Lee Leffingwell made a strong statement that the short-term projects in the plan should move forward without further delay.  Right on!

I mean really, what is a plan for?  Some people think a plan is a substitute for actually working, a way to keep people talking until they run out of energy.  Some think it is a beautiful work of art that should be given a prominent place on a coffee table or a line in a resumé.  I don’t.  I think a plan is blueprint for action.

When the board members of Friends of Barton Springs Pool made the rounds of council offices in 2006, we wanted something done.  We were asking the council to end the long-shameful neglect of the pool, take care of the long-deferred maintenance, and perform the upgrades that the pool so clearly needed to meet the ever-increasing demand on facilities.

We had a list of projects that we considered important.  We came up with this list of projects by talking with a lot of swimmers and staffers.  We didn’t expect to get all of these projects done immediately, but we wanted some done in short order.
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Come Support the Master Plan!

Thursday, August 25, head on down to City Hall at 10:00 a.m. to cheer on the Austin City Council’s resolution in support of the Master Plan!  Sponsored by Councilmembers Mike Martinez and Chris Riley and Mayor Lee Leffingwell, the resolution (Item 70 on the consent agenda) will reaffirm the Council’s support for the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and direct the City Manager to complete projects underway in a timely manner.  It will also direct him to consider the Master Plan for funding in the next bond election.

FBSP President Robin Cravey will speak in support of the resolution, and other members of the FBSP Board will attend as well.  We hope you can also attend to show support for the Pool and the Master Plan!

Gravel Bar Removal Summary and Update

Storm debris removal started late in January.  The company in charge of the project built a crane pad on the south hill using a chain link fence as the base layer and about a two foot layer of rock above that.  There was a one week delay after Barton Springs had closed awaiting the first of two cranes to arrive.

The first crane  (20 ton capacity) arrived and proceeded to build the coffer dam.  Building the dam they would take three inner tubes and float pieces (braces) of the frame to a small, one-man barge.  Once they got them out there a diver would attach the braces at the bottom.  Also, they were limited to a 10 foot high coffer dam.  The expectation was a 12 foot high dam.  Sand bags were used in the deeper areas to raise the base and set the dams on top of, to increase the height.  The building of the dam took approximately two weeks.

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President’s Report

Board recharges the wellsprings of action

by Robin Cravey

FBSP Board
Board members, clockwise from top left: Emma Cravey, Jennifer Malone, Jesse Malone, Mary Yarrington, Mike Cannatti, Tom Weber, Gary Beyer, Robin Cravey, Jonathan Beall. Not pictured: Maria Weber.

I never cease to be amazed at the dynamic energy of our board.  We held our annual spring retreat at the Ginger Man on March 26th. (Thanks Ginger Man!)  Once again we laid out an ambitious agenda for the year, worked out a schedule, and took team assignments to get everything done.

Before getting down to the action, we had to spend some time thinking big.  We kicked that off with a little slide show I put together back in 2007, when the organization was barely a year old, called “FBSP: creating a community,” and a discussion of our visions and goals.  Gary Beyer reminded us of our mission statement, and our bylaws.  And Emma Cravey recounted our achievements from last year.

Charlie McCabe from the Austin Parks Foundation (APF) was our guest speaker.  Charlie is on the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee, our group of advisory allies.  And of course, APF is our fiscal partner in all things financial.  Charlie talked about his experiences working with the Parks Department, friends groups, and parks users.
Moving to the tactical, we laid out our schedule for the rest of the year.

Much of the year is already set.  Our participation in Earth Week activities is underway.  Mike Cannatti and his team are already hard at work on our fun fundraiser, the Treeathlon, which will be April 30th.  And the First Thursday volunteer cleaning parties are on the calendar.

That left us with the Picnic by the Pool, Council Cleans the Pool Day, and the Fall Social.  Roughly, those fall in June, August, and October.  We talked about dates, but still have some bases to touch before setting them definitely.  We also have yet to set a schedule for the hospitality tent outside the pool entrance.

Finally, we all chose up teams, so that every event has at least three board members working on it.  There’s still more room on each team, so write to me if you want to help with one of these events.

Future for the Tree Court is Being Shaped

Sketch of new entry

We all treasure the majesty of the remarkable tree grove that greets us as we pass to the main entrance to Barton Springs Pool. As the Master Plan for the pool area developed, it became crucial to address the poor condition of the Tree Court, an area broadly bounded by the bath house and the snack bar between the parking lot and chain-linked fence “pool overlook”. Reports in 2009 documented the big pecans are not altogether healthy. The causes include heavy foot and bike traffic through the court, inattentive tree care, and impervious sidewalks and crushed but compacted granite.

What to do? Restoration of the Barton Springs Pool trees in the Tree Court became a priority for the general grounds improvements. Extensive public involvement resulted in input at three design charrettes sponsored by PARD and their lead architect, Brian Larson (of Larson, Burns and Smith). An additional committee meeting by the Joint Committee of the Austin Environmental Board and PARD approved moving forward on the drafting of 30% design plans last Fall.

Friends of Barton Springs Pool has advocated for foot traffic relief by restoring the main entrance to the pool through the centrally located Rotunda, bringing patrons into the pool between the men and women’s shower rooms and away from the trees. To support this unfunded alternative, the Friends and other organizations are seeking to fund a third party architect to design the plans.
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President’s Report

New Life for the Tree Court

by Robin Cravey

That oblong stretch of hardscape and pecan trees between the parking lot and the north fence received a new name in 2007:  the Tree Court.  Naming it didn’t make it important, but it did focus attention on its importance.  Now, we are preparing to give the Tree Court a new, softer focus.

As FBSP, in 2006, began to advocate for long-delayed maintenance and improvements at the Pool, we continually pointed to the sad state of the trees around the Pool.  Working through the Master Plan with the consultants, we insisted that the trees should receive care.  When the consultants issued their draft master plan in 2007, they made note of all the trees, but they made special note of that newly recognized place:  the Tree Court.

Preserving the Tree Court became a goal of the Master Plan.  The thought of that place without the towering trunks and fluttering crowns of the pecan trees there was a bleak thought.  Through long and deep study, we learned that the trees there suffer from long lack of care, but they also suffer from the tramp, tramp, tramp of hundreds and thousands of feet packing the soil above their roots.
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