April President’s Report

By Robin Cravey

Our Earth Day cleaning party was a huge success, drawing out over eighty regular volunteers.  The entire staff of the Hill Country Conservancy came out to work a shift.  In addition, several dozen junior high kids from the deaf school came out and worked two shifts.

We began the day with live television broadcasts with Nic of Fox7News.  Then, producers from News8 and KVUE to cover the presentation of a check for $8,000 from Save Barton Creek Association to Pool Manager Wayne Simmons for the purchase of cleaning equipment.

Volunteers Cleaning Barton Springs Pool on Earth Day
Volunteers Cleaning Barton Springs Pool on Earth Day

The students from the Texas School for the Deaf mulched flowerbeds both inside the fence next to the bathhouse and outside in the parking lot.  They mulched  tree roots of existing trees and some new trees provided by Austin Parks Foundation.

Our bumper crop of regular volunteers filled every two-hour shift from 10 am to 6 pm.  We had crews clearing invasive species behind the diving board, weeding the flowerbed in the women’s dressing room, skimming algae, and scrubbing handrails.  Most important, we had a full broom line of a half dozen volunteers scrubbing the bottom of the shallow end all day.  We were able to  scrub the entire shallow end twice.

At the end of the day, the Pool was the cleanest it has been since at least spring cleaning.  Congratulations to Jonathan Beall, who led the effort; to Emma Cravey, who secured the comestibles; and to Chasity Keen Larios, who got the word out.  Thanks to our shift leaders, Jonathan, Emma, Mary Yarrington, and me. Continue reading “April President’s Report”

March President’s Report

Visions need institutions,

and institutions need visions

by Robin Cravey

Masterplanning 07
Master Plan Stakeholder meeting in 2007

Without vision the people perish, says the proverb.  And I would add: Without people, the visions perish.  Putting it positively: the vision guides the people, and the people realize the vision.

Friends of Barton Springs Pool began with a vision.  It was a vision of a clean and vibrant pool, and a pool facility with the beauty of a work of art.  It was also a vision of people keeping the pool clean and vibrant, and creating artful facilities.

Already we have gone through some hugely creative work.  We have organized a volunteer effort that allows people to show their love for the pool with simple labor.  We have fostered the writing of methods to preserve and to clean.  We have written a master plan that provides a framework for creating noble facilities.  These are solid accomplishments.  But there is much more to be done. Continue reading “March President’s Report”

February President’s Report

Swimming with nets Could be a good year for cleaning the pool

by Robin Cravey

This year is looking pretty good for cleaning at Barton Springs Pool.  I don’t want to jinx it, but we may be heading into that rarity, an average year.  If so, we’ll be able to use our most effective cleaning techniques and keep the pool pretty clean.

It was around this time in 2006 that I joined together with a few other swimmers and pool lovers to raise a volunteer brigade to help out with the spring cleaning.  That winter we were in drought, and the pool was so full of algae that it was like green jello with spinach.  But we turned to our work with a will, and kept coming back week after week and month after month, and we finally got the algae under control.

One thing that made it hard to clean that year was that we couldn’t drain the pool.  It’s a lot harder to clean the pool when it’s full of water.  But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says we can’t drain the pool if the springflow is lower that 54 cubic feet per second.  So in that drought year, we got in the water and scrubbed with push brooms and skimmed with nets.  It was hard work.

The next year, 2007, was a flood year.  Springflow was high, and we could drain the pool, but every time it got cleaned up and opened for swimming, a big flood came through washing in muck and debris and closed it again for a week or two.  It was miserable.

Then, we went straight back into a drought.  The years 2008 and 2009 were again years of low springflow and cleaning with the pool full.  The algae got bad again, but not as bad as in 2006, because we kept after it.

There is an art to cleaning with the pool full.  In the shallow end you have to know the shape and direction and speed of the big lazy whirlpool effect that pulls water into the drain just upstream of the first set of stairs.  If you work together, and move with the direction of the curling current, and pace yourself with the speed of the current, you can really do some good.  In the deep end, too, if you stretch a long net and move it at the right pace, you can corral some algae.

So this year, the drought is broken, and streamflow is good.  We have had a couple of small flood events, so we could end up with another year like 2007, but let’s hope not.  Instead, let’s hope for a year when every time we get in the pool to clean, it will be drained, and we can do some of the really deep and thorough cleaning that will last a long time.

Spring cleaning starts March 1, and Service Chairman Jonathan Beall has scheduled volunteer days for March 4, 6, and 12.  The 6th is a Saturday, and will be part of Austin Parks Foundation’s It’s my park day.  The 12th is a Friday, the last cleaning day before the pool reopens for spring break.  We’ll have two-hour shifts heel and toe on each of those days.  So drop Jonathan an email an let’s get the pool really clean.

Write Jonathan at service@friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

Robin with State Rep. Elliott Naishtat
Robin, Andrea Rado & Jon Beall with State Rep. Elliott Naishtat

Quick Dips

Fun Chairman Clarke Hammond and Membership Chairman Karl Detjen resigned from the board.  We appreciate their service, and we’ll miss them.  We are now recruiting for those positions.

Several members of the board and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee met with State Representative Elliott Naishtat.  He promised to support us in our efforts to bring improvements to the pool. Continue reading “February President’s Report”

January President’s Report

Big Year Ahead: Our ambitious schedule for the short-term projects
by Robin Cravey, FBSP President

We have a big year ahead of us at Barton Springs Pool.  I’ve been working with the Board and the Coordinating Committee on a plan to get all the short-term projects finally completed or at least under contract by the end of the year.  I think we can accomplish it.

Robin Cravey, FBSP President
Robin Cravey, FBSP President

The next big project to enter the public process chute will be the general grounds improvements.  That will kick off this month or next, and we hope to see it under way by the end of the year.  It includes utility upgrades, installation of an accessible trail on the south side, and new lighting.  Related to that is moving the main entrance back to the central rotunda.

Last year, progress on the projects bogged down in a repetitive public input process.  But in the fall, Project Manager Tony Arnold outlined the city’s contracting process, and then Tom Nelson, Aquatics Manager, outlined an orderly public input process.  Board members Gary Beyer, Tom Weber, and I discussed the process and ways it could be improved.  Tom drafted comments, and I drew up a spreadsheet mapping out how to move each of the projects through the process.  We’re now discussing the process with city staffers, and I hope to have a schedule soon. Continue reading “January President’s Report”

December President’s Report

Robin Cravey, Amy Everhart, Council Member Randi Shade, State Rep. Donna Howard at Council Cleans the Pool
Robin Cravey, Amy Everhart, Council Member Randi Shade, State Rep. Donna Howard at Council Cleans the Pool

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. Continue reading “December President’s Report”

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.

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.
Continue reading “October President’s Report”