The case of the trail’s missing water coolers
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If you've been on the hike-and-bike trail lately, you may be wondering where all the coolers have gone.
The Parks and Recreation Department decided to shut the coolers down after receiving multiple complaints about people offering samples on the trail in recent months.
City officials say the new regulations will give them oversight over which business can distribute goods on the trail.
The issue first came up back in August, when Austinite Conley Covert put his water cooler contraption up on the trail, and the city immediately confiscated the iron stands.
"I do think I caught the city by surprise because it was a grey area that I entered,” Covert said.
Covert planned to sell advertisement space to pay for the stand's maintenance and give all the profits to a trail charity—a totally new concept for the parks and rec department.
"One thing we don't want to do is over commercialize our trails,” Sara Hensley with City of Austin Parks and Recreation said. “We don't want to put a bunch of things out there so we have litter coming in and we have people stopping and gathering and starting to blog things up."
The department will eventually allow more than one cooler stop, something RunTex Owner Paul Carrozza said he is happy to share. His coolers have been set up at sites along the trail since the 1990s.
"There's a lot of trail here, and I think the idea is that runners stay hydrated," he said.
The $310 permits will come through Austin’s health department to ensure the coolers’ tops are secure and free of any potential health hazard.