Friday, June 15, 2012

Barton Springs Improvements Spark Debate

Barton Springs Improvements that have been planned since 2009 are upsetting some regular park users, reports.  The improvements are slated for the south side of the pool, but some pool visitors fear the new fence, entrance gate, ticket booth and access path would overdevelop this beloved Austin treasure.

Save Our Springs and other characterize the improvements as unnecessary and consider the current dirt path, chain link fence and un-air conditioned ticket booth to be signs of the "laid-back and minimal" appearance of the south side of Barton Springs.  However, Friends of Barton Springs says the amazing natural treasure deserves "grounds and facilities that are equal to it."

The plans call for planting native plants and trees and protecting some large pecan trees near the north-side concession area, as well as burying overhead power lines.  However, the projects inspiring the biggest debate are the ones planned for the pool's southside.  They include a concrete path to the pool surrounded by native plants that would be added to the woods behind the diving board and would provide access for those who are disabled, mobility-impaired, or parents pushing strollers.

The south-side fence would also be moved to accommodate the new path and to include large trees and more lawn in the grounds of the springs.  In addition, a wrought-iron or wire-mesh fence would replace the current chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

Other possible improvements include paving the dirty parking lot on the south side and building a new wrought-iron entrance gate flanked by limestone pillars.  The current 1970's un-air conditioned ticket booth would be replaced by a slightly larger model with air conditioning for the ticket-takers.

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