Auditorium Shores renovation plan approved

Auditorium Shores will be seeing some renovations after Austin City Council approved 7-0 the final design for the park at the Dec. 12 meeting.

"We have certainly heard from many dog owners who use the park regularly, and I understand the concerns you've raised about having the space limited," Councilwoman Kathie Tovo said. "But I think at the end of the day, this really does provide a balance that allows for significant areas for off-leash, areas of on-leash, and it also will provide more of an opportunity for people who don't want to be in an off-leash area."

The final plan includes about 4.7 acres of an off-leash area for dogs, as well as the middle lawn area dedicated as an an on-leash area. The event lawn at Auditorium Shores is expected to be a dog-free area except for those getting to the dog-permitted areas. The off-leash area can be moved to accommodate events needing more space to function.

Other renovations from the project include trail realignment, irrigation improvements and landscaping.

Concerns raised by speakers opposed to the proposed plan included the reducing in space for dogs, public input from the community, collisions on the trail between dogs and trail users and the relationship between a public park and private events.

Cyndi Collen, past president of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, said there are some aspects of the plan she supports, but feels that it fails to address other concerns.

"When you look at the design and the fenced-in dog park, I'm wondering if the fences are there to segregate dogs to reflect the long-term vision of the park becoming an event center," said Collen said.

The city's partnership with C3 Presents LLC., which donated money for the renovation, also was scrutinized by speakers.

Sara Hensley, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said to her knowledge, C3 made no conditions in exchange for the funding.

Another sticking point in the discussion revolved around two annual events—Fun Fun Fun Fest and Austin Urban Music Festival—that had yet to come to an agreement about alternate space.

Bobby Garza with Transmission Events, producers of Fun Fun Fun Fest, said his group needs certainty moving forward to plan for their event.

"We were supposed to start planning and selling for next year's festival about a month ago," Garza said. "If there's not a resolution for us fast, I don't know what that does to our timeline. I don't know what that does to our budget."

Hensley said they will expedite processes on their end to work with events including Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Tovo said during the work session on Dec. 10 that she wanted clarification on if the language regarding the contract for park increased the number of event days allowed at the park.

"There are 25 events a year that happen on Auditorium Shores," said Councilman Mike Martinez. "There is no proposal to add to that number in any way, shape or form."

According to the city's backup information on the item, construction on irrigation in the middle lawn area is already underway, and the event lawn renovation is expected to start in January 2014.