December President’s Report
Looking back over a tumultuous year at Barton Springs Pool, we can take some pride in our accomplishments. We also must acknowledge a few setbacks. Thus heartened and chastened, we turn to the challenges of the future.
We began the year on a positive note, when the Austin City Council adopted the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan. Begun in 2006, shepherded through an arduous public input process, endorsed by the council in 2007 with $6.2 million in funding for some 21 short-term projects, the plan is now city policy. It’s a good plan, attending to long delayed maintenance, providing for improved infrastructure, and laying out beautiful improvements to grounds and buildings.
Annie B. Walker produced an excellent turnout for our Spring cleaning party, and organized many more volunteer cleaning parties through the year. Pat Bobeck arranged for food for the volunteers.
Steve Barnick retired as president in April, and I returned to the post. It’s a demanding job, and Steve did it with diligence. He remains active in FBSP events, attending meetings, writing information posts, participating in dialog, and moderating our google listserve.
We formed a new support group, the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee, with representatives from a number of organizations with an interest in the Pool. Members of this group and our board embarked on a tour of visits to council members and other elected officials to advocate for the Pool and the Master Plan.
Clarke Hammond inaugurated the Miracle Healing Waters tent, and spent most Saturdays during the summer at the Pool, greeting folks, recruiting members, and offering free limeade. Board members kept Clarke company as they should.
One setback was the announcement that the repair of the bypass tunnel would cost more than five times the original estimate, and that some other short-term projects had been put on hold because of uncertain funding. After our visits, the mayor and council indicated that funding for the bypass tunnel would be found, so the short-term projects could go forward. For our part, we have applied for grant funding to assist with the project.
Another setback was release of a consultant report suggesting that more than two dozen trees might have to be removed from around the Pool. People were understandably alarmed, and the long-awaited discussion of how to care for our trees got diverted into a skirmish. We responded by releasing a plan for tree stewardship. Austin Parks Foundation pledged $100,000 for trees at the Pool. We are paying much attention to the venerable trees, but we are still working to get this project back on track to care for all the trees in the Pool grounds.
Our fourth annual Council Cleans the Pool Day was a rousing success, attended by the mayor and all six council members, as well as other elected officials. And we actually got some cleaning done!
A third setback was the sudden realization by staff that they could not get their tickets punched in time to remove the flood debris from the Pool during the next Spring cleaning. So now we face another summer season with the Pool full of gravel and sediment, and no way to really clean the Pool. But, again, we have responded by patient advocacy in a series of meetings, to ensure that the job gets done next fall.
A recent highlight was the opportunity for Tom Weber, Gary Beyer, and I to accept an award for FBSP from the Save Barton Creek Association.
Our challenges for next year are formidable. We need to continue to build our membership, and activate our members on committees and through activities. In must expand our volunteer efforts cleaning the Pool, learning about the Pool, and caring for the trees. We need to organize our advocacy for short-term improvement projects so that we are leading rather than responding. We need to build our fundraising capability. And we need to begin looking toward a bond election in 2011 or 2012 to fund the long-term projects in the Master Plan.
Oh, yes, and we need to have fun at the Pool.
-Robin Cravey, FBSP President