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Travis County Parks to implement new photo ID policy to combat Hamilton Pool Preserve scalpers

Reservation scalpers are selling their "reservations" online for an increased cost, sometimes preventing other park goers from attending.

AUSTIN -- Travis County Parks could soon be implementing a new photo ID policy as soon as early summer in an effort to combat Hamilton Pool Preserve reservation scalpers.

"It's really exploded this year. It's gotten much worse than before," parks supervisor Michael Brewster said.

Scalpers are reserving spots at the pool and selling the reservations on classifieds sites like Craigslist for as much $50. It costs just $11 to book a spot through the county website.

"The same scalper will use various email address and various names, and they hide the fact that they're buying up these permits," Brewster said.

The county began a reservation system in May 2016 due to high demand.

"About 10 years ago, people started posting pictures all over the internet," Brewster said. "And now, we've become an international destination site."

The water, the view, and the jungle-like environment attract people from all over the world. It's where Amy and Ross Zimmerman decided to celebrate their six years of dating.

"I remember [Ross] had never been here before, so I was like, 'What about Hamilton Pool,'" Amy said.

She booked their reservation online and paid the $11 fee, like most of the park's visitors, Brewster said.

As of Monday afternoon, a look online showed the pool was mostly booked through the rest of May. About half of June was booked.

But it's unclear how many of these reservations are real and how many of them belong to scalpers.

"Best we can tell, 99 percent are not scalpers. Scalpers might be one percent or less," Brewster said.

What the scalpers are doing is not against the law, he said, but park staff will soon be changing how they let people into the park.

"Right now, we do not require photo ID, but we're about to switch to a process that we will ask for photo ID when you come to the park," Brewster said.

The park has already implemented a rescheduling policy.

"People who want to reschedule can reschedule. That frees up reservations at face value on a daily basis, and that will somewhat undercut the scalpers," he said.

Travis County Parks is working with the county attorney's office to find a solution.

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