Barton Springs pool will be getting a bit of a makeover starting in mid-October as the grounds improvement project gets underway.
Robin Camp, project manager with the city of Austin, said the grounds improvement plan will upgrade outdated equipment and resources, resolve erosion issues, remove compaction to improve the root condition of heritage trees, create an Americans with Disabilities Act–accessible path for the south side of the pool and replace a gravel parking lot with pavement.
"One of the major issues the project is poised to alleviate is erosion on the south side of Barton Springs, which you can probably see from where you all are sitting," Camp said Sept. 19 at Council Fixes the Pool Day. "Without improvements, a significant amount of debris and erosion occurs every time it rains. As a result of this project, the water will be redirected to ensure the waters and the salamander habitat are kept free from those materials."
In April, City Council granted the variances required for the construction project. A contract for about $2.7 million was approved in August for the grounds improvements.
Councilwoman Laura Morrison said the city and the community have already made great strides in improving the pool and the surrounding area, adding that she sees healthy wildlife in the water and people enjoying the pool.
"This place serves the people of the city of Austin," Morrison said.
Councilman Chris Riley said the event was previously known as Council Cleans the Pool Day, but the name change represents the recognition that Barton Springs needs extra attention.
"We've all recognized that we've reached a point where we all need to push a little harder, push a little deeper and do some of those bigger-picture fixes that the pool has been needing for so long," Riley said.
Austin City Council joined city staff as well as other pool stakeholder organizations, including the Save Our Springs Alliance, Friends of Barton Springs Pool and the Save Barton Creek Association, at Barton Springs Pool for Council Fixes the Pool Day. The event also highlighted other ways the staff and community are looking to improve the pool, including preserving open space over the aquifer, bathhouse renovations, bypass tunnel repairs and a new inlet grate for the bypass tunnel.
Roy Waley, vice chairman with the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club—a conservation group—said he and his organization are happy to see the improvements to the pool but also would like to see a continued focus on the springs and aquifer.
"If we've done all this work to improve the pool, to improve our amenities, we have to protect the springs," Waley said. "That's our challenge going forward."