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.
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.