Parks and Recreation Department

Visitors of Mount Bonnell take in  the scenic view of Lake Austin on Tuesday afternoon. The West Point Society of Central Texas has proposed a plan to replace the limestone monument with an inscription dedicated by the Covert family with a black-and-white granite replica.

Photo Credit: Mikhaela Locklear | Daily Texan Staff

Both natives and visitors to Austin who enjoy the expansive views of the city from Mount Bonnell may see changes to fixtures at Covert Park if a proposed plan is approved by Austin City Council.

The West Point Society of Central Texas, which serves the local community of West Point graduates, adopted the park as part of the Adopt-a-Park program in 2010, society member Stan Bacon said.

The society hopes to make landscape renovations to the park including the addition of benches and handrails. Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department will be holding a community input meeting Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to field concerns from the public.

Covert Park, which is named after the family who donated the property to the city of Austin in 1939, features a limestone monument with an inscription dedicated by the Covert family. The society plans to replace the monument with a black-and-white granite replica, Bacon said.

Bacon said the Covert family is willing to donate $20,000 to replace the monument but would not be willing to pay to simply restore the existing monument. He said funds for the other renovations would come from a city grant of $50,000 and in-kind contributions from community members, amounting to a total of more than $100,000.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department previously considered the plan and then withdrew its proposal after receiving opposition from members of the Historic Landmark Commission, Bacon said. The West Point Society is now bringing the plan to the City Council for appeal. 

“The Covert family would not pay for restoration because the city had allowed the marker to disintegrate, and if we lost that money we would lose the grant,” Bacon said. “Not only would the grant go away, but the reason that Mt. Bonnell was designated a historic landmark in 1991 was primarily because of its many visitors and views, and had nothing to do with any structures on it, so there was no point in [objecting].”

Jacqui Schraad, executive director of Preservation Austin, which advocates for preserving historical landmarks throughout the city, said the organization does not support replacing the original limestone monument, as it is one of the oldest man-made elements on the property. Other parts of the West Point Society’s proposal have merit, she said, but do not involve historic aspects of the park.

Justin Chandler, chemical engineering and chemistry senior, said replacing the current monument with a granite one would take away from the natural aspect of the park, which is situated on a limestone foundation.

“It would just stand out more,” Chandler said. “If you want to kind of project history and make it more noticeable, then it’s good on that point, whereas if it was granite sticking out, it would look less natural. My personal view is I would be less concerned with the historical, and more with the natural aesthetics.”

Published on February 13, 2013 as "Renovations proposed at park". 

With an ongoing drought, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department issued a citywide burn ban Tuesday. The ban has no preset end date and went into effect immediately.

It is now illegal to build a fire or to smoke in any Austin park, greenbelt or preserve. Grills fueled by wood or charcoal are also banned in those locations, but propane stoves are allowed in designated picnic areas.

People found to be in violation of the ban face a possible fine of $300 to $500.

Printed on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 as: Green areas citywide affected by burn ban

Update at 7:45 p.m., Aug. 2 - The Austin City Council postponed voting  Aug. 2 on the agreement to extend ACL Music Festival. This agreement with ACL producer C3 Presents will instead be voted on Aug. 16.

Music will drown the city of Austin for two weekends if Austin City Limits Music Festival is extended next year.

If Austin City Council agrees with the extension, ACL will take place Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13 next year at Zilker’s Great Lawn. Many expect this longer event will help meet the increased demand of people desiring to attend the festival. C3 Presents, the entertainment planning company that produces ACL as well as more than 800 shows nationwide, is also in discussion with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to renovate Auditorium Shores, a park where events are held throughout the year.

In previous years C3 gave Austin Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to improve local parks, 8.5 percent of its ACL ticket sales. If the festival dates are extended, they will give a larger percentage.

“There are still many details to work through,” Sandee Fenton, a C3 Presents spokesperson said. “We hope we will reach a final agreement, and as soon as we have more information to share, we will make an official announcement and provide more details.”

ACL rakes in more than $73 million in visitor spending and total economic impact for Austin, according to a 2011 KXAN news story.

C3 Presents has also agreed to provide additional security and cleanup crews if the festival is extended. Throughout the years C3 has given millions of dollars to Austin and Austin Parks Foundation, which works to coordinate park improvement through many local agents, to help maintain the Great Lawn.

Ralph Webster, president of Austin Parks Foundation, said C3 has basically paid for the Great Lawn, which is about a $2.5 million investment. They have resown the lawn, changed to cleaner irrigation methods and purchased additional equipment to help maintain the lawn. In 2009, when a rainy ACL turned freshly planted grass to mush, C3 stepped in to replace the grass.

“Nobody is requiring C3 to donate millions and millions of dollars to The Great Lawn, but they do it because they want to see a world class park,” Webster said. “They are great neighbors who will take care of any damages that happen. It is their lawn as well.”

If the extension is approved, C3 has also offered to increase the money it donates each year to help improve Austin parks, including Auditorium Shores. Many events held at Auditorium Shores end up becoming a dust bowl after thousands of feet have trampled the lawn, such as the Austin Food & Wine Festival produced by C3.

Once a cost is approved for the renovation of Auditorium Shores, C3 said they will make a commitment to fund these improvements.

“The improvements to the park are vital to the longevity of future events, those produced by C3 as well as other entities,” a C3 Presents spokesman said. “We have been in discussions for some time to make these improvements, and we are thrilled to work with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to restore Auditorium Shores to a lush green space for Austin.”

History sophomore Claire Hutton said the cost of attending ACL is a hefty price for a college student to pay.

“Even though I am a student going to UT with limited funds, I feel like the unique experience of attending ACL is worth the cost,” Hutton said. “Obviously other people feel the same way if the city is contemplating extending the dates for more people to attend.”

City Council will review and vote soon on C3’s donation and possible extension of ACL, although the date of the vote has not yet been announced.