Naked City

Stevie Ray Freed!

Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon are welcome at Auditorium Shores after all.
Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon are welcome at Auditorium Shores after all. (Photo By John Carrico)

As Emily Litella used to say: "Never mind!"

Contrary to the report in last week's "Naked City" ("Stevie Ray in Solitary?"), the city of Austin now says it is not considering permanently banning concerts, fun runs, and other big events from Auditorium Shores. Council Member Daryl Slusher e-mailed the Chronicle and insisted it was all a big misunderstanding. Slusher included an e-mail from City Manager Jesus Garza saying, "No, the article is wrong. Someone on our [the city's] staff got his facts confused."

That was followed on Wednesday by a memo from Garza's office to the mayor and City Council clarifying the no-big-events policy as "interim." The memo said that existing contracts for events at the Shores will be honored, pending applications "will be evaluated on a case by case basis," and once construction along the shores and Riverside Drive has been completed in 2004, the Shores should be reopened to such events.

The confusion arose from a prior memo from several department heads to Garza relating to construction of the Palmer Events Center, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the adjacent parking garage, and the "surrounding cultural landscape." The memo wasn't clear on whether "a change in the historic use of the site" caused by the construction was temporary or permanent, and a spokesman for the city Parks and Recreation Dept. said it was his understanding the city was considering imposing the restrictions permanently.

Apparently, "Naked City" and city staff weren't the only ones confused by the wording. On July 27, about the same time the Chronicle learned of the memo, Arts Center Stage, the nonprofit which will begin building the Long Center in 2002, dashed off a clearly worried letter to Garza saying, "Once the construction phase for Town Lake Park has ended, we expect that a full schedule of events will resume at Auditorium Shores. Community groups raise millions of dollars each year with activities on Town Lake, and events such as the Austin Symphony Orchestra's Fourth of July Concert are extremely popular. We ask that the City of Austin issue a statement now affirming that events will resume at Auditorium Shores and Town Lake Park as quickly as possible."

Slusher added that he was concerned about the lack of a formal process for notifying event organizers that the Shores will be closed to such activities while construction continues and said he would "be looking into that." The Wednesday memo from Garza said, "Letters are being sent to traditional users of Auditorium Shores informing them of the interim policy changes."

Odd, though -- the city couldn't make room for the Fourth of July fireworks concert, which was moved to Zilker Park, but last week they instantly cleared the way for a Lance Armstrong celebration. Is it possible that soon-to-be candidates Kirk Watson and Rick Perry couldn't pass up the chance for some podium time with Superman, Superpopular Lance?

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Auditorium Shores, Daryl Slusher, Jesus Garza, Palmer Events Center, Long Center for the Performing Arts, Arts Center Stage, Lance Armstrong, Kirk Watson, Rick Perry

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