Shoal Creek Conservancy strikes partnership with city of Austin

Sixth Street bridge gains historic designation The Pecan Street Bridge may be added to the National Register of Historic Places.[/caption]

UPDATED 4:22 P.M. 4/21/15

Nonprofit advocacy group Shoal Creek Conservancy helped advance its efforts to protect the Central Austin waterway by becoming partners with the city of Austin late last month.

SCC Board President Ted Siff announced the partnership between his organization and the city's Watershed Protection, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation departments during an April 21 luncheon hosted by the Real Estate Council of Austin. The agreement sets guidelines for how the 12.5-square-mile Shoal Creek Watershed will be managed, he told the crowd at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, and includes long-term plans for improved trails, parks and open space.

"We now have more resources at our fingertips, and I'd say this solidifies our relationship with the city and helps make the relationship official," SCC Executive Director Joanna Wolavor said in a followup interview. "This agreement will really help define the different roles and responsibilities we each have within the [Shoal Creek] watershed."

The agreement sets a Dec. 31 deadline for SCC and city staff to decide how best to create a Shoal Creek Watershed Management, Trails, Parks and Open Space Plan. According to the agreement signed by the city and SCC leaders, the proposed plan would outline long-term planning approaches, the scope of work needed, the responsibilities of each partnering group, budget requirements, funding strategies and potential timelines.
"This agreement will really help define the different roles and responsibilities we each have within the [Shoal Creek] watershed."

— Joanna Wolavor, SCC Executive Director

In the meantime, the partnership also allows SCC to focus on shorter-term projects, Wolavor said.

"That's the goal—let's see what we can do right now and not just 15, 20 or 50 years from now," she said.

For example, she said the group is working to establish lighting along Shoal Creek between 15th Street and Lady Bird Lake. She is in the process of establishing the exact cost of that project, which she said could be completed in the next two years.

The conservancy also received about $20,000 in grant money from the Public Works Department's Neighborhood Partnering Program to install solar lighting underneath the North Lamar Boulevard and 12th Street bridges.

"Right now, those are not places you really want to be at night," Wolavor said. "It's not really somewhere you feel comfortable."

She also wants to see how soon the city and her organization can combine to improve existing parks, such as Duncan Park on 10th Street.

"There is some potential in really making that a vibrant downtown park," Wolavor said. "We can improve the grounds for native habitat while also improving the fields."

SCC will host its first annual Shoal Creek Awards from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 21 at PGi Studios, 612 W. Fourth St.
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.