November President’s Report

Senator Watson Presents SEP Fund Check to FBSP for Bypass Tunnel

Last month, I reported on the long series of successes FBSP achieved this year in cleaning the Pool, raising money, engaging the community, and having fun.  This month, I have a less inspiring report to make on the work city staff has done toward completing the short-term projects of the Barton Springs Master Plan.  Progress has been slow.

At the end of 2009, we published a timeline for some seventeen short-term projects for improvements to the Pool and surroundings.  These are projects that City Council approved and funded in 2007.  Our goal was to see every one of the projects completed or at least under contract by the end of 2010.

We were increasingly concerned that after more than two years not a single project had been completed.  In fact, very few had even been started.  Now, with another year past, the situation is a little better.

To be sure,  the deck is stacked against ever doing anything.  Each project requires cooperation between two or three city departments, public input, review by a special committee and several city boards and commissions, staff contract review,  one or more votes by the City Council, and approval by one or more state and federal agencies.  It’s an arduous gauntlet to run once.  To run it fifteen or twenty times, concurrently, is a huge effort.

Members of FBSP and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee have been actively involved, every step of the way, testifying before committees, boards, commissions, council, and agencies.  We’ve also paid visits to staff members, consultants, council members, legislators, and others.  We’ve published several comment memos on various projects.  Against the odds, we’ve nudged the projects forward.

Quick Dips

Renovation of the bathhouse roof

Bathhouse Phase One. This has been a bright spot.  The project, which includes roof replacement and upgrading various mechanical systems, is almost complete.

Flood Debris Removal. Despite some obstacles, removal of the flood debris, nicknamed the ‘gravel bar,’ is close to action.  If the Corps of Engineers completes their review by mid-December, as promised, the project will start in January and be finished in time for Spring Cleaning in late February.

General grounds improvements. Though the schedule has been slipping, this project is into the design and review stage.  Latest estimate is to begin construction in the last half of next year.

Bypass tunnel. This project was sent back to go early this year by a course change, and it has still not regained the ground lost.  However, the inlet grate and outlet gate, for which FBSP secured state funding, can move forward independently.

For a brief summary of all the short-term projects, click here.

Thank You to Our 2010 Sponsors!

We accomplished a lot this year, and we could not have done it without some fabulous local businesses and individuals who helped along the way. With donations ranging from funds to food and drink, these sponsors provide the fuel on which this volunteer organization runs!

Treeathlon: 1379 Family Sports Shop, Barley & Pfeiffer Architects, Barton Springs Nursery, Lori McClure and Joe Martin Battle, Bicycle Sport Shop, Caffe Medici, Hamilton & Terrile, LLP, High Five Events, Highball, Karen and Philip Ingram, Jack & Adam’s Bicycles, Karmadillo, Live Oak Brewing Company, Perry Lorenz, Maine Root, Sara and John Marler, Maudie’s Tex Mex, Save Barton Creek Association, Shady Grove, Silicon Labs, St. Arnold, TacoDeli, Texas Rowing Center, Vinson & Elkins LLP, Yum Yum Frozen Yogurt

Member Picnic By The Pool: P. Terry’s, Uncle Billy’s Brew and Cue

Council Cleans the Pool Day: Alamo Drafthouse, Clif Bar, Maudie’s Tex Mex, Texas Coffee Traders

Fall Social: Artz Rib House, Once Over Coffee Bar

5th Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day a wild success

Barton Springs summertime main event was a wild success!  So many reputable elected officials and their aides showed up, the mucky mucks were crying uncle before any action in the ring could begin and remained hidden beneath four feet of water and the pretense that ‘if you mess with us, the bypass will collapse.’  A few brave souls and biologists still charged the deeps to shake some of the muck from the muckies and relocate them to greener pastures out in the lake where they will be desirable.

However, it was obvious that many of the council and assembled officials came itching to rumble as they tried to throw each other into the pool with moderate success.  And those who were not thrown in the pool, all bravely volunteered to grab cleaning implements and scrub away.   It was a veritable circus of cleaning and everyone was in the ring. Two lines of chanting conga pushbroomers had the shallow end sparkling like a buddhist temple waiting for the Dalai Lama to arrive.  There were people everywhere, working the brooms, scrubbing the walls, netting algae, trying out the power equipment.  Laurie Dries led an entourage into the south side lions den of algae and gave a great lesson on separating the good from the bad and whipping grime from the salamander crevasses with a hose.  Robin Cravey garnered a new title to his already estimable credit, ‘The Barber of Barton Springs’ as he trimmed the ebulant growth of plants in the deep end to a respectable swimming and diving level.  Perhaps he will be offering free hair cuts to volunteers at the next cleaning.  You sit in one of the pecan trunk chairs and he stands 12 feet away with our new pole saws.  His precision is amazing.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all those who volunteered with us this August and the gracious donations of the council to our equipment inventory.  And we look forward to seeing all of you again down at the pool helping to restore its rightful glory!

-Jonathan Beall, FBSP Service Chair

Thanks to our sponsors:

Alamo logo

August 2010 President’s Report

Friends receive $300,000 check at Council Cleans the Pool Day

by Robin Cravey

Senator Kirk Watson along with Mayor Lee Leffingwell present at check for $300,000 to FBSP

Senator Kirk Watson was the new man at the Fifth Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day in August.  Mayor Lee Leffingwell, all the members of the Austin City Council, Representative Donna Howard, and Commissioner Karen Huber all returned for another grand day.

Kirk, a former mayor of Austin, was there to present the Friends with a check for $300,000.  The money came from a special program at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and will be used to help pay for the improvements to the bypass tunnel.  With Kirk’s help and the participation of Charlie McCabe at the Austin Parks Foundation, we applied for the funds and received them.  When the city actually does the work on the bypass tunnel, we will pass the money through to them.

Lee improved the occasion by challenging the staff to get cracking on the bypass tunnel work.  His enthusiastic support of the Pool and the master plan is inspiring.  Besides accepting the check on behalf of the city, he also presented the Friends with a half dozen brooms on behalf of the council.

Kirk was also there to clean the Pool.  He came in his trunks, and after the presentation, he waded down into the water and pushed a broom with the broom brigade.  Also in the brigade with him were Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and Councilmembers Chris Riley and Laura Morrison.  With all our new brooms, and our wealth of volunteers, we had two broom brigades working in the first shift.

Councilmember Sheryl Cole is such a cutup!  Last year, in a playful moment, she dunked Mike Martinez.  This year, Sheryl tried to push Kirk into the Pool, but he outmaneuvered her and tossed her into the water!

Randi Shade came early, and had to leave before the presentation.  Bill Spelman arrived after the presentation, but did get in the pool and work with one of the buffers.

Council Cleans the Pool Day just grows every year.  We began it in 2006 as a way to bring the council members down to let them see first hand what it takes to keep the pool clean, and what the pool needs.  It’s still about that, but it takes on new dimensions each year.  We never even thought about inviting a state legislator, but the next year Donna Howard came on her own initiative to show her support.  Then Commissioner Karen Huber.  This year Senator Kirk Watson (with a big fat check).  I think the real reason is that word is getting around that cleaning the Pool is fun and satisfying.

Continue reading “August 2010 President’s Report”

FBSP receives $300,000 grant from TCEQ to fund repairs to the Bypass Tunnel Grate

At a press conference at the 5th Annual Council Cleans the Pool on Thursday, August 12th, Senator Kirk Watson presented a $300,000 check to the Friends of Barton Springs Pool on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quaility. Officials who were present include: Mayor Lee Leffingwell; Senator Kirk Watson, County Commissioner Karen Huber, State Rep. Donna Howard, and Austin City Council Members Sheryl Cole, Mike Martinez, Bill Spelman, Laura Morrison, and Chris Riley.

With the encouragement of Senator Kirk Watson, FBSP applied to the TCEQ for Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) funding. The grant in the amount of $300,000 will be passed through to the City of Austin to help with the cost of repairs to the bypass tunnel by establishing establish an improved outlet gate onto the bypass tunnel to help manage water levels and aid in maintenance of the pool.

These particular SEP funds resulted from water pollution fines collected after Travis County environmental staff investigated the 2007 pollution in Hamilton Creek and Hamilton Pool. The Travis County Attorney, Hays County and TX Attorney General successfully sued for damages to this unique Hill Country stream. Most funds go to Travis County for the cleanup of Hamilton Pool, but $300,000 of the funds received by the State of Texas will go to our Barton Springs Pool SEP.

Afterwards, elected officials and volunteers grabbed their brooms donated by the Austin City Council and began their yearly tradition of cleaning Barton Springs Pool with FBSP.

The Friends of Barton Springs Pool is an organization creating a community of people to restore Barton Springs Pool to its rightful glory. www.friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

5th Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day on August 12

Council Cleans the Pool Day in 2009

Contact: Robin Cravey, 236-9655

president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org

Date: July 26, 2010

Event Date: August 12, 2010

Event Time: A tour of the Pool 9:15 – 9:40 a.m.
Press conference 9:40 – 10:00 a.m.
Elected Officials clean the Pool 10:00 a.m.

5th Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day

On Thursday, August 12th at 9:15 am, Austin City Council members and other elected officials will join volunteers from the Friends of Barton Springs Pool and city staff to clean algae and silt from Barton Springs Pool.  The cleaning session will kick off at 9:15 a.m. with a short tour and press conference with a check presentation to the Friends of Barton Springs Pool to be used to fund a Barton Springs Pool Master Plan project. The elected officials will then be stepping down into the cold spring waters to work with volunteers to clean Barton Springs Pool.

Officials who have confirmed their attendance include: Mayor Lee Leffingwell; Senator Kirk Watson, County Commissioner Karen Huber, State Rep. Donna Howard, and a few city council members.

It will be the Fifth Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day put on by Friends of Barton Springs Pool (FBSP).  The group formed in 2006, another drought year, to respond to the algae blooms that clogged the pool that year.  Since then FBSP volunteers have worked side-by-side with pool lifeguards to help keep the pool clean.  Inviting council members to the pool to see conditions first hand quickly became an annual tradition.

“Last year, we had eight elected officials who got in the water with us to help clean Barton Springs and show their support of preserving the Pool for generations to come,” commented Robin Cravey, FBSP president.  “We’ll have an important announcement regarding funding that Senator Kirk Watson helped FBSP get to pay for improvements to the bypass tunnel. This year the event will be unique because we will be cleaning the Pool while it’s drained.”

The day will begin with a short tour of pool cleaning facilities and a look at problems with the bypass tunnel. Senator Kirk Watson will be the keynote speaker at the press conference to announce the funding. The press conference is often an opportunity for officials to comment on the progress of the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan, which envisions an array of improvements to the pool, grounds, and facilities.

Talking done, the officials will begin their watery work.  They will work in water up to their waists, pushing brooms and buffers to scrub the bottom, and dragging nets to skim the surface. They will also be tending to the plants that grow on the bottom of the Pool. For more information, please visit our website at www.FriendsofBartonSpringsPool.org.

A special thanks to our sponsors:

Continue reading “5th Annual Council Cleans the Pool Day on August 12”