“2011, What a Year” or, to parody Dr. Strangelove “How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Heat and Love the Algae”
by Gary Beyer
What was that, anyway? I’m talking about this last summer, Summer 2011. 100 plus temperatures for weeks, no, make that months on end. If it wasn’t for Barton Springs, I would have spent the entire summer inside the air conditioning watching Bonanza re-runs. Thank God (or the Goddess, or the Dharma) for Barton Springs. Apparently everyone else felt the same way. The attendance at Barton Springs this summer doubled as nature lovers who wanted to get outside and didn’t want to die from heat exhaustion took refuge in the cool, refreshing waters. And poor old Barton Springs welcomed our presence in record numbers, but not without wear and tear. The record drought has devastated the trees and grass, and reduced the spring flow to a trickle, resulting in the lowest water quality in a long time. Still, our intrepid volunteers have fought on, sweeping record volumes of algae. Thanks to you, we logged in over 900 hours of volunteer service to help keep the pool clean and clearer that it would have been otherwise. Hats off (or Namaste!)
2011 brought a lot of change, not only at Barton Springs, but in the FBSP Board. We now have a new Service Chair, Thomas Schiefer, and a new Fun Chair, Maureen Hatfield. Our beloved President and Founding Father, Robin Cravey, resigned to attend to family matters and to earn some money (no, no one at FBSP gets paid). He spent countless hours fighting the deteriorating conditions at Barton Springs, organizing, attending meetings, speaking, writing, and eliminating obstacles to progress on various Master Plan projects to keep Barton Springs from becoming a victim of its own success. Progress has been made on the bypass tunnel, bath house, trees, buildings and grounds, etc. His daily efforts will be sorely missed. Hats off (or Namaste) a second time!
This brings up my visions, aspirations, and commitment to tangible projects to preserve and upgrade deteriorating infrastructure, which, if successful, will keep Barton Springs the beautiful, wonderful, miraculous icon that it is. One of my first efforts have been to reach out to everyone who has been active in shaping projects at the Springs, swimmers, environmentalists, city staff, etc. to see if we can form a common vision prior to the 90%, or 60%, or 20% design phase to hopefully prevent the kind of start, stop, go back, start again model which has plagued past projects. This previous model results in a lot of harsh feelings, wasted time and money. I would like to develop a more flexible model which attempts to get a lot of buy-in up front (I know, I’m naïve and crazy!) However, I am an eternal optimist and feel I should give it a shot. To this end, FBSP was flexible regarding the move of the south gate entrance, and welcomed the idea of creating a trail, ADA accessible, through the newly annexed South Woods area. This option will preserve the character of the south hill and rehabilitate the highly eroded gully that runs through the middle of the South Woods. I have also met with Zoila Vega-Marchena of the Heritage Tree Foundation to discuss tree plans for inside the fence. So far the results have been more than favorable, more like downright fantastic. I think the spirit of Barton Springs is smiling.
Gary Beyer is the new President for FBSP and has served as Vice President for two years. He is a professional geologist who has worked at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for 26 years, remediating soil and groundwater at refineries, military bases, and industrial facilities. Before that he worked at the Texas Solar Energy Society. He is a sculptor and enjoys mountain biking, windsurfing and swimming at Barton Springs. His wife, Caroline, is Audit Director at Cap Metro. He has two sons, Benjamin, 15, and Nathan, 36, and three dogs, Tippy, Reba, and Nappy who keep him awake barking at night.