Extend Our Trail (If Not Our Sympathy)

New astroturf org backed by developers pose as anti-developers.

When you can't get what you want, you should lie, distort, and take advantage of the innocent public for your own gain, right? Guess that's what they teach in developer school.

The Chronicle's most recent coverage of the controversial project proposed by developer CWS for 200/333 E. Riverside ended with the observation, "Had the site plans that CWS filed for its 17-story shoreline condo towers not presumed such greedy setback variances, been so outrageously out of scale, and been so blatantly disrespectful of WO [waterfront overlay] values, SaveTownLake.org never would have formed. Few things galvanize this town as powerfully as a developer in a black hat."

Hilariously, CWS seems to have seized on this idea – hey, a developer in a black hat! – to craft its latest misinformation campaign. CWS commissioned the e-mail blast now bouncing around town (pasted below the fold), which poses as coming from a phantom group they conjured up, Extend Our Trail. (Their minions also are calling around town with a misinformation phone surveys.) The now-desperate CWS misinformation campaign represents city council as the so-called bad guy who must be urged by citizens to grant a variance to a developer - that being CWS, of course! – as a way to "demand responsible development." Huh?

Poor CWS has resorted to posing as a bunch of liberal anti-developers. Have they no shame? Of course, nowhere does the CWS misinformation campaign admit that "the wrong option" they so aptly identify would be 100% their voluntary choice. CWS does not have to leave (or rebuild in place) the existing three-story apartment buildings close to the waterfront, for any reason at all. Except to make more money and spite the community.

We'd laugh, except it makes our stomach hurt. Read their email missive after the jump.

[NOTE: Confirmation that CWS created Extend Our Trail to conduct its own survey/petition/campaign has come from multiple sources, including a statement by CWS representative Richard Suttle at the Parks Board.]

From: Extend Our Trail
Subject: The Future of the Town Lake Trail

We are writing to inform you on an important issue that affects us all in Austin.

The Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail (now Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail) is at the heart of our community, but irresponsible development throughout the 1970s and 1980s caused the trail to be incomplete and the shoreline to be inaccessible to full public use.

Now we have the opportunity to rewrite, redraw, and rebuild the future of Our Hike and Bike Trail.

The property immediately east of the Austin American-Statesman building on Riverside Drive is an example of the irresponsible development from the previous era. There are apartment buildings built 20 feet from the shoreline that prevent public access and use of our trail. The new property owner of 222 and 300Riverside has two options for redevelopment.

The first option, the wrong option, would result in the owner building a new development immediately on top of the current structures. This option would require no variance, or permission from city officials and would effectively continue upon the irresponsible path of impeding public access to our trail.

The second option, the right option, would result in:

* Building approximately one-third of a mile of new and improved hike and bike trail
* Removing the current structures that are as close as 20 feet from the shoreline and rebuilding no closer than 150 feet to the shoreline
* Providing more than two acres of parkland will be dedicated to the City for public use
* Offering the City up to 3,000 square feet of public space with restrooms
* Installing water quality filtration systems
* Allowing public access to this new section of the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail

We now have a unique opportunity to get back part of our trail and set a clear precedent to developers that we demand responsible development.

In order to get the new property owner to donate two acres of parkland and extend our trail, we must gain support in urging officials to grant the variance needed to make this project a reality. Join us in taking a stand to encourage responsible development in Austin.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Growth & Development, Politics, City Council, Environment, Town Lake, Waterfront Variance, Richard Suttle, SaveTownLake.org

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