City council approves designs for Waller Creek plan

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist ERIN COKER

kvue.com

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 20 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The Waller Creek District Redevelopment Project is moving full-steam ahead.

Thursday morning the Austin City Council voted to approve the final design plans.

At the Brick Oven downtown, construction continues across the street at Waterloo Park.

General Manager Christine Moore believes her restaurant will be a hot spot once the Waller Creek District Redevelopment Project is complete.

“We've been here for over 30 years, and I don't think we've ever seen anything like what's happening there,” Moore said. “It should be a fantastic opportunity for us to grow our business.”

Austin City Council members share Moore's enthusiasm. Thursday they approved design plans for the project.

“We will be forever improving it and making it better," said Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole.

The project features a series of five connected parks, starting at Waterloo Park and ending at Lady Bird Lake.

There will a lighted pavilion for live music, a pontoon bridge and suspension bridges over the lake.

“Our goal will be to be aspirational with this plan but not ridiculous,” said Melanie Barnes of the Waller Creek Conservancy. “We think this sweeping beautiful design strikes exactly that balance.”

The City also announced the launch of a new venture called Friends of Waller Creek.

It allows people to make a three-year financial commitment. The money will be used to help pay for the project.

“This is a watershed event for our city,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “To me, it is a model for how we're going to fund our park system to make it better.”

Some still have doubts about the design plan.

Juan Oyervides is board chairman of the city's Mexican American Cultural Center. He says he's concerned about the pontoon bridge, which would be close to the cultural center.

“That was the first I had seen it, and so we've not had any input on the design at all," he said.

Oyervides believes the bridge may negatively impact traffic in that area.

“Parking pressure for our parking lot to use the bridge I suppose,” he said.

The City says while the major parts of the project should be finished in the next 20 years, just like the San Antonio Riverwalk, improvements and changes will always be happening.

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