Waterfront Planning: Professionals Needed

Yet activist Mary Arnold gets the first nod

Waterfront Planning: Professionals Needed
Photo by John Anderson

It's troubling that the first and only nominee to the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board at yesterday's council meeting – Mary Arnold, nominated by Council Member Laura Morrison – is a longtime activist entrenched in the old neighborhood-vs.-developer politics, rather than a professional in one of the nine fields of expertise council had specified for the board.

Nothing personal against the esteemed Ms. Arnold, but back in May, the revised Waterfront Overlay ordinance established that WPAB members should be "drawn from the fields of urban design, environmental protection, architecture, landscape architecture, historic preservation, shoreline ecology, neighborhood conservation, civic art, and real property development." That wisely defined a professional board, on the model of the Design Commission.

The make-up of this board is critical, for it’s tasked with "promoting excellence in the design, development, and protection of the City's waterfront." Read that triple-barreled charge again: 1) design, 2) development, and 3) protection. Council has a rare opportunity to appoint a board of unbiased professionals, who each are adept at supporting and advancing all three of its goals, simultaneously.

The full council must vote to appoint the nominees of individual council members. If members pack the Board with positional advocates, we can expect the same old Austin fights and resulting stasis, after two decades of seeing little or no positive redevelopment or new public lakefront amenities. But if instead council assembles a truly unbiased professional board, Austin might just realize a 25-year dream – creating a truly great urban waterfront.

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.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More City Council
City Council Candidate Forums
City Council Candidate Forums
Say hello to your district's candidates

Chase Hoffberger, Aug. 24, 2018

Zimmerman and Flannigan Face-Off in Candidate Forum
Zimmerman and Flannigan Face-Off in Candidate Forum
Zimmerman doubles down on opposing climate change, living wage

Mary Tuma, Sept. 16, 2016

More Development
AISD Taking Offers on Underused Properties
AISD Taking Offers on Underused Properties
Four buildings plus 75 acres up for new uses

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 3, 2016

More Cabs to Hit Streets; Music Permit Changes, More
More Cabs to Hit Streets; Music Permit Changes, More
Our council preview, Pt. Two, cranks it up to 11

Wells Dunbar, Dec. 13, 2011

More by Katherine Gregor
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Checking in on the Climate Protection Program's progress – or lack thereof

Aug. 6, 2010

Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Study predicts how climate change will affect Texas' future water needs

July 30, 2010

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

City Council, Development, Boards and Commissions, waterfront

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle