Friends receive $300,000 check at Council Cleans the Pool Day
by Robin Cravey
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.
We have been trying out a new method for controlling the towers of star grass that are proliferating in the pool. What we do is take a pole saw and, from the surface, reach down and cut the star grass off about six feet down. It takes a while for it to grow back up high enough to interfere with swimming again.
Emma Cravey and I represented the Friends at the Zilker Neighborhood Watermelon Social. It was a rainy day, and the event was sparsely attended, but we saw a lot of friends we knew.
We had a briefing on the bypass tunnel at the Watershed Protection Department. Almost a dozen members of the FBSP board and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee attended, and about an equal number of city staffers. We expect a report from the city’s consultants on the tunnel soon.
Part of our preparation for Council cleans the Pool Day was to write a memo on “Springs Cleaning Party Procedures.” It’s a description of the main cleaning activities we do, why we do them, and how we do them. This will become a regular handout for our volunteers.