By Marty Toohey, Asher Price
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Barton Springs Pool has serious structural damage and will probably need to be closed for six months or more for repairs, according to city officials.
Those officials said they don’t know when the pool would close. Numerous factors, including the health of endangered salamanders living nearby, will play a part in that decision.
The damage does not pose an immediate safety hazard to the swimmers, sunbathers and others who use Barton Springs Pool, according to a Monday city memorandum written by the directors of the city’s parks and environmental protection departments. But if the city does not make repairs, the damage could worsen, eventually making the pool unsafe and threatening the salamanders.
“Not making any repairs … is not a realistic option,” the city memo said.
The repairs could cost $2.4 million to $4.7 million.
The damage is to an underground tunnel that runs parallel to the pool on its north side, underneath the sidewalk. During heavy rains, the tunnel shunts excess dirty water from the creek that feeds Barton Springs Pool. The tunnel is about 6 feet high and 10 feet wide.
City officials discovered cracks in the tunnel in October when the pool level began dropping, city spokeswoman Stephanie Lott said. As a temporary fix, the city put bricks and stones into the tunnel to equalize pressure with the pool.
More holes, none bigger than a pad of paper, have formed since then. There are now about a dozen holes.
“The structure has reached the end of its useful life,” said Stan Evans, an engineer with the city’s Watershed Protection and Development Review Department. “It’s just like when you wear a car out. We’re now in the process of determining strategies to repair that or replace it.”
Gary Beyer, vice president of the Friends of Barton Springs Pool association, said he hopes the city can find a way to conduct the repairs without closing the pool. Continue reading “Structural repairs to take place at Barton Springs Pool”
Read the actual press release here.
The Friends of Barton Springs Pool (FBSP), a local group that organizes volunteers to provide direct support for the maintenance of Barton Springs, has been mobilizing efforts to save the trees. FBSP congratulated Parks Director Sarah Hensley for hiring a local arborist to perform yet another assessment of the two dozen or so trees recently recommended for removal.
The recently released report commissioned by the City of Austin as part of the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan recommends the removal of many trees from the Barton Springs pool and surrounding. Many large, old trees might face the ax, shocking local environmentalists and swimmers.
FBSP requested and supports the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan mandating the tree study. In fact, FBSP requested that study and care of the trees be included in the master plan. Also, FBSP supports the City of Austin Parks Department decision to make a careful and more comprehensive study of trees where consensus on their removal doesn’t exist. However, with regards to public safety, some of the trees will clearly have to go.
“We want to save and preserve every tree we can,” declared FBSP President Robin Cravey. “However, we understand that a few trees are too far gone to save. Trees that pose a significant danger to the public will have to be sacrificed.”
Volunteers on the FBSP board pointed out that the trees were not slated for removal to allow for improvements to the bathhouse and other facilities as some people have alleged. These improvements were meant to incorporate the footprint of the existing trees, not to chop them down. In fact, some facility improvements will benefit the trees, including moving the bath house entrance back to the center of the building and burying the electrical lines now strung through treetops along the sides of the Pool.
FBSP plans to reap the benefit of publicity surrounding the trees to bring about new stewardship programs for the trees, water quality, and other amenities associated with the famous pool. They announced their intention to:
• Solicit volunteers to re-plant trees and assist on grounds maintenance.
• Obtain donations and matching funds with the Austin Parks Foundation.
• Coordinate with the city for tree purchases.
The FBSP also proposes the implementation of a Tree Action Plan to maximize tree care and minimize tree removal. Aggressive tree re-planting efforts are needed to replace older trees before it is too late. Other elements of the plan include:
• Evaluation of current mowing practices and care of the ground surface under tree “drip lines.”
• Consideration of modifying improved ground surfaces near bathhouse and inside pool area.
• Use of cost and feasibility as a principal rationale for deciding if tree preservation is worthwhile (less emotional and more focused on reasonable budgets)
• Where currently ill trees are preserved or nursed back to health, evaluate pool management practices to keep public safety risks low (windy, stormy conditions). Continue reading “Friends of Barton Springs Pool Mobilizes Support for the Trees”
In 2006 the Friends of Barton Springs Pool warned that trees in the pool area needed attention. City council funded a study and evaluation of the trees. The study has been delivered. Some trees must be removed, some will receive care, and some new trees will be planted.
Friends vice president Robin Cravey commented, “Tree removals hurt, but sometimes they are necessary. The benefit is that new trees will be planted, and many of the trees standing will get much-needed arbor care.”
The Barton Springs Tree Assessment Report and Action Plan will be presented to the Joint Committee of the Parks and Environmental Boards on Monday evening at 6:30 pm. Also on the agenda are reports on Barton Springs Gravel Removal, Barton Springs Bypass Tunnel, and Barton Springs Short-Term Projects. Representative of Friends of Barton Springs will attend the meeting.
Read the tree study at: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/downloads/bsptrees.pdf
Today the city council has agreed that Barton Springs Pool deserves renovation, better water quality, and preservation. It passed the Master Plan with a vote of 7-0!
Thank you all for sending emails to the city council, attending the press conference, and coming to city hall today! Our hard work has paid off and today we will celebrate a much needed victory for Barton Springs Pool.