Barton Springs development plan draws criticism
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A desire to improve one of Austin's most valued attractions drew sharp criticism at an Austin City Council meeting Thursday.
Council members heard from many speakers critical of potential plans to improve the city’s oldest swimming pool.
Home of a rare salamander, the spring-fed Barton Springs Pool is the reason behind one of the longest City Council meetings in Austin history and the resulting Save Our Springs ordinance. The ordinance limits development within the aquifer’s recharge zone.
City leaders are discussing possible changes to the ordinance to allow for more parking areas to be paved.
"We can't, in good faith, ask developers to do that in some remote locations when right on top of the springs, we are expanding impervious cover--more parking, more automobiles, more pollution," Bill Bunch with the Save Our Springs Alliance, said.
Council Member Laura Morrison said she’s frustrated that the public won't see the changes needed until the day of the hearing.
"I think it's absurd and rather unfortunate that any plans would be kept hidden until the day of the public hearing,” Morrison said. “I promise I'm not redundant, but this is such and such awful."
Designs have been in the works since 2009 with more than 80 public meetings to date. In addition to paving a larger parking lot, plans include a large wrought iron fence around the pool and a walkway and viewing platform on the south lawn.
"The Barton Springs Plan document itself says crystal clear. That's the most beautiful, beloved part of the park grounds,” Bunch said. “Don't touch it."
The City Council will be briefed on the plan later this month, although the exact date has not been set.
The public will get a chance to share their thoughts at a public hearing on April 11 at 4 p.m. at Austin City Hall.