Austin council approves Auditorium Shores, ARCH renovations



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Posted on October 3, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 3 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN -- The Austin City Council tackled an 100-item agenda Thursday, including approving a $2.3 million renovation at Auditorium Shores. The money will be used to renovate the trail-head at 1st Street and Riverside Drive.

City officials say the plan is to make that area a true gateway to the Butler Hike and Bike Trail and transform the area.

The parking lot will be redesigned to include a circle drive and an additional 30 parking spots. The deteriorating restrooms will also get a makeover. Once complete they will look similar to the facilities at Butler Park. The entrance to the trail itself will also be enhanced with chilled water fountains, additional stretching and warm-up equipment, and a new plaza.

"It's a place where people meet and start a day on the trail, afternoon on the trail, so we're enhancing a new plaza and deck structure at the pond at the Fannie Davis Gazebo that provides a place for people to stand off the trail, out of traffic," said Marty Stump, project management supervisor for the Parks & Recreation Department.

Texas Parks and Wildlife granted the City $1 million for the project. The other $1.3 million comes from 2006 city bond money.

Construction will start in November after Fun Fun Fun Fest and should be complete in July. The parking lot will be closed during that time, but the trail will be open.

The council also voted to grant a critical one-time fund budget for renovations at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH).

Staff at the center say the facility was built to house 100 men a night, but they are holding 230. That's on top of seeing 600 people a day. The process to get people in takes about two hours, so the City will spend $500,000 to convert a portion of the building's under-ground garage into meeting space with restrooms.

Staff at the ARCH don't know when construction will start, but say this should help get some of the homeless off the street while they're waiting to get help.

The city council also amended an engineering agreement for the construction of the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk to spend an additional $440,000 for new services.

City officials say construction hit a few road blocks because the site plan and survey for the project was done about four years ago. Since then Austin has had a significant wind storm and is currently in a drought, and that's changed the condition of the land. Crews were unable to connect two areas of the trail and a portion of the project that goes into the lake, so new engineering plans have to be done.

Plus, the City now wants to add an ADA accessible fishing pier to the boardwalk.

"It was its own, individual project that had its own location earlier," explained David Taylor, project manager for the Public Works Department. "As we were working through the boardwalk project and talking about the difficulties of making a small project happen on the lake, our management decided it was much more efficient if we would combine it in this project."

Crews will convert the construction dock into a pier. A portion of the money for that addition is from the 2012 bond and the CORE Health Foundation.

The project is set to be complete by early next summer.