Town Lake Park Venue Project Boundaries Never Set

This note summarizes research that establishes that neither the physical boundaries nor the size of the Town Lake Park Venue Project have ever been set.

The Law Department’s assertion that the Town Lake Park Venue Project extended only from Barton Springs Road to Riverside Drive prompted me to do in depth research into its physical definition. I knew that the assertion was a complete fabrication, as it contradicted every related previous discussion and City document about the venue. I wanted to determine what official designations the venue really had so the issue could no longer be distorted.

Four Council actions comprise the definition of the venue. These are:

Resolution 19980902-017, which adopts a City Manager recommendation “to finance the construction of the Town Lake Park Community Events Center with related parkland development and parking facilities through the use of additional revenues created on the imposition of a five percent tax on short term motor vehicle rentals.”

Ordinance 19980903-J, which defines Proposition 11 (the venue project definition, creation of car rental tax, bond authorization for construction) and Proposition 12 (Long Center lease authorization) and their ballot language.

Resolution 990729-30, approves the Master Plan for the venue project developed by the EDAW partnership and directs the City Manager to initiate amendments to the City Code to accommodate the plan, which is incorporated as an Exhibit.

Ordinance 19991028-088, which authorizes issuance of the project bonds, incorporating the bond covenants.

None of these actions (all attached) identifies the boundaries of the venue. Nor do any of them define the physical size of the venue. Neither do either of the bond packages (1999 and 2005), though as secondary documents those would not be definitional of the venue in any case.

A notion had crept into the folklore of the project in 1999 that the venue was sized at 54 acres. A memo from Austan Librach in May, 1999 had mentioned the 54 acre size, also passing along the Law Department’s feeling that the venue lands could extend north of Riverside Drive. But there is no foundation anywhere in City policy action for the 54 acre limitation.

The closest the City has come to actually specifying the boundaries is the scope of the Master Plan, which included Auditorium Shores, the current Riverside ROW, and the parkland south of Riverside exclusive of the Long Center lease site. The plan prescribes park development for all these tracts, though the current use of the Butler Pitch & Putt was deemed appropriate. Prescribed improvements on Auditorium Shores extend west of West Bouldin Creek as far as the an extension to Lady Bird Lake of the alignment of Lee Barton Drive. This suggests appropriate boundaries for the venue would be the Lady Bird Lake south lakeshore, South First Street, Barton Springs Road, and the western edge of parkland bounding the line defined in part by Lee Barton Drive.

A thorough search of City documents establishes that the meets and bounds of the venue project have never been set and that the size of the venue has never been formally specified in a policy action. As state law refers to physical boundaries for venue projects, it would be prudent for the City to clarify the boundaries of the Town Lake Park Venue Project, and to do so in the manner specified above, which respects all the public planning processes advanced by the City for the project.

Larry Akers

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