LAKE TRAVIS -- Call it a learning experience.
“As stressful as this process has been, it's actually been an educational process for the park's staff,” said Charles Bergh, the Travis County Parks director at a public meeting Wednesday night.
The county now backed off their decision to expand a swim-only zone at Hippie Hollow, the only clothing-optional park in Texas, therefore eliminating a spot for boats.
Will Coombes, a regular boater and advocate for opening Hippie Hollow to boats told KVUE “although this has been a negative situation, I think there's so much more positive that's going to come out of it."
The park had closed off the boating portion of Hippie Hollow in the eastern cove to expand a swimming zone for safety purposes. However, there is no record of any accidents involving a swimmer and a boat at Hippie Hollow in recent history.
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt wrote in a statement, "I know the safety improvements unmindfully infringed on the customs and community that the park fosters,” and encouraged a grassroots campaign to speak up at the meeting Wednesday.
The boating community had also questioned the parks department’s decision to rope off even more of an area for swimmers, since the hike down to the cove is very steep.
“We don't believe that there's a safety issue between boats and swimmers, as much as there's an issue due to the low lake levels and the steep train of the park itself,” said Coombes.
Dozens of people filled the seats at the Wednesday meeting after a grassroots campaign called “Friends of Hippie Hollow” started a petition online to open the eastern cove back up to boaters.
Coombes said they received more than 500 signatures on the petition.
“We've had quite the outpouring of support in just essentially a week's time, and we're quite impressed," he said.
At the meeting, the Travis County Parks Department agreed to open the eastern cove to boats, and now there is discussion of expanding the boating area even farther.
On Thursday, the Travis County Parks Department agreed to expand the swim area back to the far side of western cove, which was how it was in 2009.