SOS Reaches Agreement with Stratus Properties over New Project, Protecting Land in the Barton Springs Zone
Stratus Properties (“Stratus”) owns some of the largest areas of land within the Barton Springs Zone. They own land all throughout Southwest Austin, including the site of the notorious 4,000-acre Barton Creek PUD, which was the catalyst of the SOS movement 30 years ago, when more than 800 Austin residents rallied to protect Barton Springs from overdevelopment. Oftentimes, the inherent conflict between developer profits and our mission to protect the water quality of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer puts SOS at odds with developers, like Stratus. But, this is not one of those days.
SOS is pleased to share the news that we have reached an agreement with Stratus that will help protect approximately 10 acres of land from commercial development and will reduce the total amount of impervious cover (i.e., pavement) that can be built in the immediate area surrounding the new apartment complex by 6.9 acres.
The development in question is the last phase of a five-phase development at the southwest corner of William Cannon and Southwest Parkway (7415 Southwest Parkway) in the area known as Lantana. In exchange for being able to convert their approved office project to multi-family housing, Stratus has agreed to reduce the overall imperious cover of their planned project to 25% net site area (from 60% NSA), by dedicating additional developable lands towards land conservation immediately to the project’s south. This would be functionally equivalent to the limits required under the SOS Ordinance.
While this is certainly not an ideal scenario, and we would of course prefer full compliance with all existing environmental regulations, the unique circumstances surrounding this site, including an approved site plan for an office development, make it much more likely that the developer would proceed with construction of the approved office park than leave the land undeveloped. Under such a scenario, we protect no additional lands, get no parkland dedication, and end up with more impervious cover.
SOS would like to thank Stratus for working with us on mitigating the environmental impacts of their planned development, by dedicating additional lands towards conservation purposes, beyond even what was recommended by the initial City of Austin recommendation.
That said, there is still much more work to do. Every year, SOS is notified about dozens of new developments attempting to take advantage of outdated environmental regulations and skirt the will of Austin’s voters by trying to exempt themselves from compliance with the SOS Ordinance.
The SOS Alliance was formed to be the watchdog protecting Austin’s groundwater, creeks and springs. Seeking compliance with Austin’s environmental regulations is a big part of that, and we will continue to pressure developers (and the City) to protect our limited resources.
Barton Springs Pool will reopen Tuesday, June 9th, four days a week; Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On those days, the pool will open from 5 – 7 am for swim-at-your-own risk and then open for reservations between 8 am. and 10 pm. During the modified COVID-19 operations, no admission fees will be charged.
Anyone who bought a Summer 2020 swim pass and would like a refund should email firstname.lastname@example.org including their current address and where and how they paid for the pass.
We would like to thank City of Austin Parks and Recreation and the pool staff for their hard work in getting the pool open and safe.
Please see the instructions for reservations, safety rules and other information below:
• Reservation required: go to www.Austintexas.gov/parksonline- if you do not have an account you can easily create one – go to browse tickets/park and pool passes then to ticket search for date and keyword Barton Springs – choose date and front or back gate – continue to shopping card and check out – ticket will be emailed to you – no charge
o No fee required while under modified operations
o If you do not have access to a cell phone or computer phone reservations are available seven days a week from 8am to 5pm, at 512-974-9330
o Initially reservations to be available one-week prior
o Capacity has been limited
o Reservations are only available to persons identified as in your household through account creation
o You must enter at the gate associated with your ticket
• Screening required before entry to facility which includes temperature testing
o Patrons will confirm they have not been experiencing COVID symptoms for the last 72 hour
o Patrons receive wristband after successful screening
o Screening begins 30 minutes prior to entering the facility
• Showers and Changing areas not available
o Under the current guidelines set forth by The State of Texas regulations/Orders, we are restricting access to changing rooms and showers. You are only permitted to use the toilet areas and sinks. We ask that individuals not utilize toilet areas as changing areas. Please come to the facility ready to swim.
• Guests required to wear a cloth face covering while in the facility when not actively swimming/submerging underwater
• Swim at your own risk
o Every day of the week, including closure days
o 5a-7a only
• Closure days are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
• Facility Entry/Exit
o Northside Primary entrance is being relocated to the “side gate” for reservation swim times
o Exiting on the northside will occur out the turnstiles or out the traditional entry way for ADA access
o Staircases on the north side of the pool have been designated as one-directional
o South side entrance remains the same
o Swim at your own risk can enter through traditional gates
We look forward to jumping into Barton Springs again!
Please follow all rules and stay safe.
Were You There?
As you can see, Esther's Follies legend Shannon Sedwick was there, telling the truth and cracking us up.
Thirty years ago, on June 7th, 1990, over 1000 citizens showed up at Austin City Hall to protest the "Barton Creek PUD," a 4,000 acre development proposed for the banks of Barton Creek by Freeport McMoRan, a global mining company that was the single largest discharger of toxic pollutants into the waters of the United States. Austin citizens from all walks of life took their allotted 3 minutes to tell the city council to vote "no" on the massive development proposal. After taking testimony throughout the night, the City Council voted unanimously the next morning to deny the development approval. The event triggered Austin's "save our springs" movement followed by the passing of the SOS Ordinance in 1992.
We are excited to be celebrating 30 years of citizen advocacy and the birth of the Save Our Springs movement on June 7th! Were you at City Hall on that historic day? Did you listen in from home on KUT? We want to hear your story. What do you remember? What changed for you or someone you know after that night? Please send us your experience in an email or in a short video (no more than 90 seconds) to SOSInfo@SOSAlliance.org. Share a photo or two as well, if you have them. Be sure to include your name and phone number. If you know someone who was there, please pass this along to them.
We'll be reminiscing a bit between now and June 7th, and planning a virtual reunion that day. Mark your calendar and please jump in with your memories.
Pound the PUD!!
P.S. If you are able, please consider a contribution to Esther's Follies' Performers Fund. We gotta save Esther's pool -- Shanon, Michael Shelton, Ray Anderson and their cast mates are essential Austin. We can't afford to lose them.
Watch the condensed 30 minute video of the hearing HERE.
Lot's of us are wondering when Barton Springs Pool might reopen. The word from City of Austin staff is that the Parks & Rec Department is working with the City's Health Department, city leaders and others on a phased opening plan for all of the City's swimming pools. Timing and details of the phased opening will be subject to the best judgment of these officials.
The City's current "Stay Home, Work Safe" orders extend to May 30. Thus, Barton Springs will not open before some time in June. It could be later. We'll stay in touch with Parks staff and let our springs friends know as soon as we hear something more definitive. Let's all be safe and patient, and enjoy the beautiful weather, with safely-distanced walking, hiking, bike riding, and swimming in the Highland Lakes when we are able.
It was perhaps the most important Chronicle cover ever. With the Chronicle cover, plenty of chatter from KUT DJ' John Aielli and the for-profit morning radio talk jocks as well as paid radio ads from Austin environmentalists, the word definitely got around. Six days later over 1000 people showed up at City Hall to tell Mayor Lee Cooke and the City Council to vote "No PUD."
Read Daryl Slusher's key piece from that day 30 years ago here. And don't miss Scott Henson's and Tom Philpott's sidebar that follows Daryl's piece: "Freeport McMoRan: Number One With a Toxic Bullet"
Stay tuned this week in the run up to Saturday's 30th anniversary celebration of the all night City Council meeting that gave birth to the Save Our Springs movement. Share your memories with us if you were there (email@example.com). And join with us as we take stock of where we are 30 years later in the continuing struggle to save our springs.