Dear Austin Chronicle
Once upon a time (just a couple of years ago) there was a great stretching area off the trail under the MoPac overpass (aka the Johnson Creek trailhead). Nothing special, just a concrete circle containing a springy surface, simple metal bars to assist in stretching, and some places to sit. Next to this area, tables with cold water coolers would be set up. Nearby there was an open-air shower. Surely no city planner foresaw the miracle of feng shui that made this humble little area a perfect gathering spot, a pleasant place to talk or simply hang out, to shower off during a long run, to have a cold drink, to stretch and warm up, to see and be seen.
Now the stretching area has been razed and replaced by a truly hideous "improvement" that epitomizes the very worst aspects of self-important, short-sighted "urban planners." We can thank the Trail Foundation for "fixing" this area by removing everything that was useful and in its stead erecting a row of ugly granite blocks that serve no purpose except to advertise the engraved names of those who abetted this act of urban destruction. There is copious evidence of "planning," but no sense of place. Trail users no longer hang out there, they just pass through. It's sad to think how many hundreds of thousands of dollars were wasted on this folly, which succeeds only in destroying what used to be a special place.
Now we hold our breath, wondering if a different set of planners and another round of "improvements" will succeed in accomplishing the same destruction on the south side of Barton Springs, under the guise of "fixing" it [“Then There's This: Pool Plan Panned and Lauded
,” News, Aug. 31].