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Controversy over new South by Southwest dome in Bastrop

By Richard Whittaker, Fri., April 1, 2011

Dome and Domer

Engineers and environmentalists are clashing over the design specs for the new nine-story South by Southwest dome planned for Bastrop (see "Dome Sweet Dome," Music). The structure is intended to relieve the pressure on Downtown businesses and residents. Architectural consultants at Future Design Concepts claim it will be the most ecologically sensitive megadome in Central Texas and are already negotiating with the city's Solid Waste Services Department. The plan is to re-engineer Austin's long-awaited planned materials recovery facility to also accommodate a recycled construction materials factory. Solid Waste spokesperson Jennifer Herber said, "Most people do not know that burnt pizza boxes make great cinder for cinder blocks." To accommodate the site's additional power demands, the city of Austin has already halted renovations to the Seaholm Power Plant and is revising the 2012 transport bond to include a dedicated coal-hauling freight rail line. The biggest concern has become the water supply. Plans include a sluice system that would allow SXSW to simply hose down areas like the Hot Topic "P Is for Punk" zone at the end of the Festival. The Save Our Springs Alliance has voiced concerns that pouring that much rehydrated sweat into the aquifer could raise the salt content of Lake Austin. Save Our Springs Alliance Director Bill Bunch accused the council of backing the plan "just so they can fast-track Water Treatment Plant 4."

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