Area residents provided feedback May 3 to Bond Election Advisory Task Force members about a $659 million bond package that needs to be whittled down to three smaller packages of $400 million, $300 million and $200 million. Those packages will be presented to Austin City Council some time in the next month or so, according to city staff.
The funds from the bond issuance would go toward capital improvements, or enhancements to roads, parks and buildings.
The Dougherty Arts Center
Several people voiced disappointment that only $2 million of $4 million in requested funds to relocate the city-owned Dougherty Arts Center, now on Barton Springs Road near South Lamar Boulevard, to another location was not included in the narrowed-down list.
In 2006, the city alerted parents of children attending summer camp at Dougherty that it had found dangerous levels of toxins in the center’s soil in Butler Park due to the center’s proximity to a 70-year-old underground landfill. Now, officials at Dougherty said they need $6.6 million to construct a new building at a different location and remediate the parkland that the center sits on.
If the center does not receive funds, it may have to be shut down, the residents warned.
“We can’t afford to lose a facility that is the third-ranking revenue [generator] in the [Austin Parks and Recreation Department] … Plus we have 200,000 people, including 20,000 children, who use that facility every year,” said Celia Hughes, who was among the approximately 100 people who showed up at Lanier High School in Northwest Austin for the forum. Hughes said she had been producing in the arts center since the early 1990s.
North Austin mobility
Many people also came out to voice their support for continued inclusion of $34.2 million of mobility improvements on North Lamar Boulevard from Howard Lane to US 183 and Burnet Road between MoPac and US 183 based on a study conducted with funds from the 2010 Mobility Bond. The money would go toward street reconstruction and the installation of sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities, among other improvements.
In December, the board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, composed of elected officials, approved $1.2 million in federal funds for the construction of sidewalks that comply with the American with Disabilities Act on either side of North Lamar Boulevard from Parmer Lane to US 183.
The task force started in February with $1.5 billion in desired capital improvement projects.