Council Watch: Coming Attractions
Barring unforeseen incident (like another postponement), the City Council will vote this week on an oft-delayed resolution to move the city's central booking facility into the county's facility at 10th and Nueces. West Austin residents have fought the move every step of the way through four years of planning and construction, anxious that the presence of Central Booking will endanger the neighborhood. The site of the proposed facility is across the street from an apartment complex that houses retirees, a block from Pease Elementary School, and less than a mile from a day care center and the central campus of Austin Community College.
Residents have been promised a community liaison from the booking facility, as well as extra sheriffs to escort prisoners into the building, should an arresting officer have parking problems, but they have expressed little faith in those promises. Lynn Moshier, manager of the Regency Apartments across the street from the facility, says she'll consider packing heat if the booking facility moves. "They're going to be responsible for putting me out on the streets with a gun," she says.
One alternative is to renovate the current booking facility at Seventh and I-35 and keep central booking there. Another proposal would delay the move until the effect of the county-owned facility on the neighborhood can be determined. At least two council members -- Beverly Griffith and Danny Thomas -- are expected to vote against moving central booking, but West Austin residents will need two more votes to block the move.
Also, the Mirabeau Condominium project -- a revamp of the reviled Gotham condos that horrified much of downtown and South Austin last year -- is due for a third reading and final vote this week. Sarah Crocker, a consultant who has worked with the owners of the site just south of Town Lake on the west side of Congress, says plans for the building have changed completely since last fall, when the project first drew a firestorm of protest. Could a Greek Revival monstrosity still rise on Town Lake's southern shore? Probably not, but actual plans for the building won't be drawn up until the council grants permission to build it. At second reading, planners still had a few hoops to jump through in order to comply with regulations governing the Town Lake Corridor. If the plans are in compliance this time, odds are good that the proposal will pass, if not enthusiastically.