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Waste Watch: Shoal Creek Restoration Project

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Six million dollars in taxpayer money: that's how much of your money the City of Austin is planning to spend for renovations along Shoal Creek. We're talking about the area just west of Lamar between 15th and 28th. That includes Pease Park. With the city set to hold a special budget meeting Tuesday, we asked the tough questions on why this project is worth your money.

After more than four decades living in Austin, Randy Howard knows the power of Mother Nature.

"It used to be every time you had a bad rain, houses all up and down Shoal Creek were flooded," said Howard, who's lived near Shoal Creek for ten years. "The whole restoration has just been a good thing."

But previous efforts have not been enough, say city officials. Now they're planning to spend $6 million on further improvements. The goal: stopping the erosion that’s creeping toward the trails and nearby Lamar, along with improving water quality by taking out close to 2,000 feet of old wastewater lines.

"In extreme times they can overflow and end up with sewage in the creek," said Morgan Byers, Supervising Engineer for the Watershed Protection Department.

The project also calls for new trails, including one under 24th Street to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

When asked why the department is spending the money on this project when the city has identified millions of dollars in other needs, Byers replied, "This funding comes from the drainage fee in the Watershed protection department and that money is limited to certain types of services."

Volunteers regularly help care for the park. When asked whether volunteers could perform any of the work to save money, Byers replied, "The type of work that we're doing really requires heavy equipment," and therefore would require trained construction crews. Byers says volunteers will still be a part of maintaining the trails and parks, as they currently are, saving the city money in the long run.

Residents we spoke with, like Howard, told us when it comes to park repairs, generally speaking, they believe the ends justify the means.

"If it prevents millions of dollars in damage, it's worth it," said Howard.

Byers says the project's been in the works since 2006. Construction should start this summer and take a year. The city says if you live nearby, you may notice more traffic and some reduced parking and trail access.

You can see the designs Tuesday evening at the city's Design Preview Open House for the project. It goes from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the One Texas Center, Room 525, at 505 Barton Springs Road.

For more information:

By Adam BennettWaste Watch: Shoal Creek Restoration Project



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