October President’s Report

8 Oct 2009 by admin, Comments Off on October President’s Report

Restoring the grand rotunda

Pool’s public face will one day welcome swimmers again.

The beautiful glass rotunda that greeted swimmers entering the Pool for many years will be restored to the central role to match its central location in the not-too-distant future.

Rotunda
To remove the high foot traffic from the tree court, moving the entrance to the Pool has been promoted from a long-term project to a short-term one.  This will also have the benefit of shortening waiting lines on summer days by allowing as many as five cashiers to take admission fees.  And it will restore the grand public face of the Pool that the central glass rotunda presents.

Parks landscape architect Marty Stump has presented some good ideas for the tree court at recent meetings.  As we worked through the agonizing decisions over sawing or sparing old and declining trees over the summer, it became clear that the packed earth, pavement, and planters in the tree court were suffocating the root zones of the trees.  Marty is working on a plan to change that.

Emily Little, architect, has volunteered to work with Parks staff to help make the restoration of the rotunda as the main Pool entrance a reality.  Emily is a member of the  Austin Heritage Society and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee.
Once this grand entrance has been restored, people won’t have to ask, Hey, can you tell me how to get into the Pool?

Short-term projects back in forward motion

Sara Hensley makes the call

At last we are moving again.  Parks Director Sara Hensley decided last week that PARD will move ahead with grounds improvements and other short-term projects.  Assistant director Stuart Strong announced the decision at a stakeholder meeting on September 30.

As you may recall, members of the FBSP board and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee had advocated this position in visits to every council office over the summer.  We received strong support from council members and the mayor.

The short-term projects had been put on hold when the bypass tunnel project mushroomed from a small project to a large one.  Understandably, there was a period of hesitation to move forward until the size of the bypass tunnel project was understood.  Some worried that one single project would devour the biggest part of the $6.2 million allocated for all the short-term improvements.

We argued, however, that an order-of-magnitude increase in the cost of the tunnel project took it virtually outside the scope of the short-term projects.  It became a project all its own, and deserved its own funding.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell agreed.  We were thrilled, during a meeting in his office, when Lee declared that accomplishing the renovation of Barton Springs Pool would be a goal of his administration.  His policy director, Amy Everhart, attended the stakeholder meeting at which Stuart announced the decision to move ahead.
One of the projects that will now move forward is general grounds improvements.

This will include several vital improvements, including improving drainage on the south side, building an accessible path from the south gate to the pool, removing the dangerous and unsightly overhead wires strung around the pool, improving water pressure and electrical service to facilitate cleaning, and landscaping the tree court.

Clark Hancock also reported on the progress of the interpretive plan.
The forward motion is good, but valuable time has been lost.  Project manager Tony Arnold is going to have a hectic time coordinating the many short-term projects.  We’ll be there to help him.

Quick Dips

Pool Manager Wayne Simmons and I dropped by the Chronicle Best of Austin awards party to pick up a couple of awards for the Pool, best swimming hole and best teen hangout.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett and I had lunch Little City last month.  He was impressed by the work on the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and promised to help with federal issues.

State Rep. Donna Howard met with several FBSP and BSPCC members in her office recently.  Donna has been a good friend of the Pool for years.

Architect Al Godfrey, a co-author of the master plan, stopped in at  a meeting of the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee recently to share his thoughts and answer questions.

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