Barton Creek

A documentary screened on campus Thursday night focused conversation on the history of the preservation of the Barton Creek area as a panel discussed the future of sustainable development in Austin. 

The screening featured a movie called “The Unforeseen” and a live panel that included several prominent leaders representing viewpoints of the film, such as Terry Mitchell, a former developer; Brigid Shea, an environmental adviser; and David Sullivan, a city planning commissioner.

“The Unforeseen” follows the political battle between Austin residents and developers over plans which called for the development of 4,000 acres of land around the Barton Creek area. The film explores the theme of big business against local residents, interviewing and portraying in depth figures such as Gary Bradley, the failed leader of the Barton Creek development plan, and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

The Center for Sustainable Development, a research center within UT’s School of Architecture, hosted the event.

“Our aim was to appeal to a wide variety of audience members,” said Rachel Tepper, the event coordinator for the Center. “[Students] might not know the political tension that protects Barton Springs but causes a lot of frustration.” 

Tepper also said it was important that people learn about the local policy in Austin and how it relates to the urban environment. She said even though Thursday night’s environmental screening and panel are not part of an established series of events, she looks forward to hosting several panels at UT in the future.

As the film portrayed, after an intensive City Council meeting, the development plans were halted, although as the panel discussed pollution Barton Springs still faces from more recent developments in suburbs outside of Austin.

Shea, a member of the panel, helped create the Save Our Springs Alliance, which helped protect Barton Springs against development. Shea was also instrumental in passing a ballot which established rigid water quality controls on developments around the Austin area. She said it was important for people to “see beyond the short term … to take the actions necessary to preserve and protect.”

Jessica Lee, an environmental science freshman who attended the panel, voiced her concern over the topic of conserving the environment. 

“There’s so much to learn about the environment and issues we are facing,” Lee said. “Raising awareness is one of my top priorities.”

After the screening there was a lively discussion between students and members of the panel.

Police still await the toxicology report that may give more clues about the death of a man found in Barton Creek earlier this month.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office identified a body on Jan. 16 as 27 year-old Anders Shockome, who kayakers found deceased in Barton Creek on Jan. 14.

Sarah Scott, chief administrative officer for the Medical Examiner’s Office, said Shockome was identified by his fingerprints at 4:30 p.m.

“We are waiting on a toxicology report [in order to determine cause of death],” Scott said. “The report could take anywhere between six and eight weeks.”

The body was found in the vicinity of Zilker Park Boat Rentals before 2 p.m. on Jan. 14, said employee Bob Schroeder.

“The area [where Shockome was found] is densely covered in branches and bushes,” Schroeder said. “There is a lot of overhanging growth, which is part of the reason why it took so long to find him.”

Schroeder said employees of the boat rental called 911 at around 1:56 p.m. after kayakers reported seeing something in the water right behind Barton Springs Pool.

“One woman in a kayak first saw him,” Schroeder said. “She reported seeing a mannequin, but later we found out that it wasn’t.”

Lisa Cortinas, an Austin Police Department spokeswoman, said at least one other person reported seeing the body in Barton Creek.

“Two people that were rowing reported what they believed to be a body in the water,” Cortinas said.

Schroeder said APD had discovered gear — including a sleeping bag, a bottle of whiskey and a medication container — in the bushes behind one of the boat rental sheds, near where Shockome was found. Schroeder said he believed Shockome may have been camping out for some time in the fenced area where the gear was found.

“It is not a good place to be camping out,” Schroeder said. “From time to time we see heroin users down there, and I would not want to spend the night there.”

Cortinas said due to the ongoing investigation, APD could not confirm if the gear belonged to Shockome.

Schroeder said Boat Rental employees and other members of the community have placed flowers near the site where Shockome was found and Shockome’s mother has recently come to see them.

“This has never happened before,” Schroeder said. “It’s a true tragedy for the entire community.”

APD has requested that anyone with information about the victim or this case call the Homicide Tip Line at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS.

Printed on Tuesday January 24, 2012 as: Drowned man found in Barton Creek