Austin
4:59 pm
Sat December 3, 2011

City Wants To Returf Auditorium Shores

The wet weather turned Auditorium Shores a muddy pit this weekend, but it was good demonstration of why the city of Austin wants to returf the park. Marty Stump is a landscape architect with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. They held public meeting Saturday on the Town Lake Park Master Plan to finish developing Butler Park and Auditorium Shores.

Stump said one way they can re-turf Auditorium Shores is by partnering with a company, the way the city did with C3 Presents to resod Zilker Park's Great Lawn after the ACL Music Festival.

“Really Auditorium Shores needs that same level of improvement," Stump said. "It needs a new sprinkler system, irrigation system. It needs new soil amendment and turf and that’s pretty high on the priority list. ”

The cost estimate for the Town Lake Park Master Plan is from $5 million to $22 million. Stump said the range is so wide because the city wants to add a children’s garden to Butler Park. They're interested in turning Riverside Drive into what he calls a “festival street” that’s closed to traffic sometimes. And he said the city needs to replace the Dougherty Arts Center.

b Funding for the project comes from a tax on car rentals in Austin. But some of that money has been used to pay operations costs at the Palmer Events Center which makes this project a controversial one.  The Austin American-Statesman reported earlier this year that $2 million was used to pay salaries for Palmer workers.

At the ballot box, voters saw no mention of using the rental-car tax to pay the salaries of Palmer employees. It wasn't in city documents or newspaper articles published in the run-up to the election.

The idea appears to have surfaced nine months after the bond election, when the legal documents were drafted allowing the city to borrow money to build the new Palmer. The staff included a clause that makes funding the facility's day-to-day operations a higher priority than building the park.

Another public meeting on the Town Lake Park Master Plan will be held in January.