Update from the Advocacy Committee

The attention on the pool is bringing new members into FBSP. Several new members have joined into the FBSP Advocacy Committee. Committee members have been attending and speaking out in support of pool improvements and implementing the Master Plan projects. The Committee is also staying in contact with key staff of the City be abreast of emerging issues. Through all this participation, the Friends are building a stronger technical understanding of the difficult decisions the City faces. Among these tough issues are how to deal with the deterioration of the Barton Springs Pool bypass tunnel and how to maintain and restore the trees and canopy over the pool.

Since May, the Advocacy Committee has voiced the Friend’s mission at monthly meetings of the Parks & Recreation Board / Environmental Board Joint Committee that oversees the BSP Master Plan implementation. We requested the City work closely with our organization and others to end the neglect of the trees and to take positive actions. We announced a Tree Stewards Program the FBSP formulated with other volunteers from several organizations including TreeFolks and Austin Parks Foundation (APF). At the Joint Committee meetings and in meetings with our elected officials and City staff, we continue to press for implementation of all the Master Plan projects. All these efforts are slowly paying off. For example, through the combination of volunteer effort and donated funds, grants received by APF, and City funding, improved tree maintenance and new tree plantings will occur at BSP.
Continue reading “Update from the Advocacy Committee”

Statesman Op-Ed by FBSP President: Austin should commit to the care of the neglected trees at Barton Springs Pool

Comment on the Statesman Op-Ed by FBSP President Robin Cravey here.

Cravey: Austin should commit to the care of the neglected trees at Barton Springs Pool

The hue and cry being raised about the trees at Barton Springs Pool is a mixed blessing. The trees have been taken for granted for a long time, so it’s good that people are finally taking notice of their condition. On the other hand, there’s a lot of misinformation. In the long run, getting care for the trees is part of the vision and plan that is bringing new stewardship to the Pool.

From large dead limbs to rotting holes in trunks, the evidence of decay at Barton Springs Pool has been there to see for a long time.

That’s why, in 2006, the Friends of Barton Springs Pool made care of the trees at the pool a priority. We begged city council members and staff for care for the trees. As we worked through the master plan process, we urged that care of the trees be done swiftly. In 2007, the City Council funded care of the trees among the short term projects.

These things take time. So this year we found ourselves anticipating the release of the awaited tree assessment. It was a sensation.

Unfortunately, it was the wrong report. Instead of a report on how the city would take care of some 150 trees that have been neglected, it was a report on how some two dozen trees might need to be removed. We had known that a few trees might be beyond help, but we expected that to be balanced by ambitious plans to care for all of the remaining trees. The report was nothing but bad news.

The parks director pledged not to remove trees until alternatives had been considered. Some arborists say the tree assessment is not so dire as it seems. The Austin Parks Foundation has pledged money for tree planting, and the Friends of Barton Springs Pool has volunteered. The discussion is progressing.

People finally recognize that the trees have been not just neglected, but abused in the way that we thoughtlessly abuse trees all over the city every day. They’re choked in planters, their root zones are paved over, their soil is packed down. Changing that will not be cheap or easy, but change it we must.

It isn’t that the parks staff doesn’t care. In the economic downturn, the parks budget is suffering more than twice the cuts of some other departments. Changing that will not be cheap or easy, either.

These are the systemic issues that can be fixed with sustained attention in the long term. That’s the commitment of the Friends of Barton Springs Pool. And we’re looking for help. Visit www.friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

In the meantime, we’re working with the city staff to get on with maintaining the trees. That’s the whole point.

Cravey is president of Friends of Barton Springs Pool.

Friends of Barton Springs Pool Mobilizes Support for the Trees

Read the actual press release here.

The Friends of Barton Springs Pool (FBSP), a local group that organizes volunteers to provide direct support for the maintenance of Barton Springs, has been mobilizing efforts to save the trees. FBSP congratulated Parks Director Sarah Hensley for hiring a local arborist to perform yet another assessment of the two dozen or so trees recently recommended for removal.

The recently released report commissioned by the City of Austin as part of the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan recommends the removal of many trees from the Barton Springs pool and surrounding. Many large, old trees might face the ax, shocking local environmentalists and swimmers.

FBSP requested and supports the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan mandating the tree study. In fact, FBSP requested that study and care of the trees be included in the master plan. Also, FBSP supports the City of Austin Parks Department decision to make a careful and more comprehensive study of trees where consensus on their removal doesn’t exist. However, with regards to public safety, some of the trees will clearly have to go.

“We want to save and preserve every tree we can,” declared FBSP President Robin Cravey. “However, we understand that a few trees are too far gone to save. Trees that pose a significant danger to the public will have to be sacrificed.”

Volunteers on the FBSP board pointed out that the trees were not slated for removal to allow for improvements to the bathhouse and other facilities as some people have alleged. These improvements were meant to incorporate the footprint of the existing trees, not to chop them down. In fact, some facility improvements will benefit the trees, including moving the bath house entrance back to the center of the building and burying the electrical lines now strung through treetops along the sides of the Pool.

FBSP plans to reap the benefit of publicity surrounding the trees to bring about new stewardship programs for the trees, water quality, and other amenities associated with the famous pool. They announced their intention to:
• Solicit volunteers to re-plant trees and assist on grounds maintenance.
• Obtain donations and matching funds with the Austin Parks Foundation.
• Coordinate with the city for tree purchases.

The FBSP also proposes the implementation of a Tree Action Plan to maximize tree care and minimize tree removal. Aggressive tree re-planting efforts are needed to replace older trees before it is too late. Other elements of the plan include:
• Evaluation of current mowing practices and care of the ground surface under tree “drip lines.”
• Consideration of modifying improved ground surfaces near bathhouse and inside pool area.
• Use of cost and feasibility as a principal rationale for deciding if tree preservation is worthwhile (less emotional and more focused on reasonable budgets)
• Where currently ill trees are preserved or nursed back to health, evaluate pool management practices to keep public safety risks low (windy, stormy conditions). Continue reading “Friends of Barton Springs Pool Mobilizes Support for the Trees”

2009 Board Members

On Saturday, April 26th, the new Board Members were announced at our annual membership meeting. They are as follows:

Robin Cravey, President
Gary Beyer, Vice President
Mike Cannatti, Secretary
Tom Weber, Advocacy chair
Maria Ines Weber, Treasurer
Peggy Wall, Membership chair
Annie Buckman, Service chair
Chasity Larios, Communications chair
Clarke Hammond, Fundraising chair
Pat Bobeck, Fun chair

Many thanks to outgoing and continuing board members.  Congratulations to new board members.

Call for Board Members

This is a call for board members to be elected at the April membership meeting on Saturday, April 25th (you can subscribe to our calendar to stay updated with FBSP events).

We are in need of:
Vice President
Advocacy Chair
Fun Chair

Anyone interested please contact Steve Barnick at:

president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org