AUSTIN -- City leaders, neighborhood activists and Austin Energy staff marked the official start to removing the controversial Holly Street Power Plant.
Saturday morning, East Austin residents symbolically removed the first bolt of a months long demolition process. It's the beginning of the end for the 52-year-old Holly Street Power Plant.
City leaders, including Leffingwell, joined families who have fought the gas fired plant for more than forty years.
"It's a blessing, a blessing from above," said Elisa Rendon Montoya.
Montoya lives just blocks from the plant. She cited problems including noise from generators and negative environmental and health impacts.
"It's been a long struggle for us in the neighborhood," said Montoya.
The power plant was officially shut down in September 2007. Four years later, the city and Austin Energy are moving forward with removing this massive structure.
It's supposed to take 18 months for the power plant to be dismantled. Once it's cleared, 9.2 acres of the land will be turned into a city park.
"It's very significant we turn a pace in Austin's history and dismantle this plant, and turn this area into some open space," said city councilman Mike Martinez.
The bidding process for a company to remove the plant was controversial. The city ultimately selected TRC Environmental, and will pay the company $11 million.
"It's going to be fascinating to watch how it's taken apart, and I think the public will be very happy with the results at the end," said Larry Weis from Austin Energy.
Austin Energy officials say crews won't work after 6 p.m. during the week and will not work on weekends to cut down on noise.
One the plant is dismantled, the city will begin work on transforming the area into a park. The contractor will remove much of the earth underneath the plant for environmental reasons. Once the park is complete, it will connect to the Hike and Bike Trail.