Naked City

BIG BUDGET CUTS AT AISD The long-awaited Austin Independent School District efficiency study was delivered to the board of trustees by MGT of Amer­ica on June 1, and district staff are bracing themselves for the public response. Although AISD has more than $100 million in fund reserves and an AA+ bond rating, the study proposes a wide array of cost-cutting measures, totaling $441 million over five years. The recommendations range from the constructive (developing a long-term facilities management plan) to the controversial (closing eight schools and slashing pre-K provisions to the state minimum). While the district has made it clear that any major decisions will be left to incoming Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, in a carefully worded statement, current Superintendent Pat Forgione called the report "a tool that will help the District and the community clarify our values in terms of prioritizing and reducing spending." – Richard Whittaker

Naked City

SOCCER-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT Some loyal fans of the Austin Aztex (they play soccer – you know, the less boring form of football) have started an online petition to place a natural-grass soccer field/concert venue in Central Austin. The venue, modeled after beautiful grass fields like Skag­erak Arena in Skien, Norway, could potentially host everything from Aztex games to Willie Nelson concerts and include "new retail, office space, and possibly housing," all conveniently located for the many soccer hooligans residing Downtown. While perhaps overly ambitious and without official support from Aztex owner Phil Rawlins, the idea actually makes some sense. Since starting their Austin franchise in 2008, the Aztex have done nothing but impress, unlike the many other fledgling franchises that have sprung up and fizzled over the past decade. To learn more about the Grassroots Austin Stadium Supporters initiative (aka GRASS), see www.austinstadium.org, and don't forget to catch the Aztex in action this weekend (for more info, see "Crunch Time" and "Soccer Watch"). – Mark Fagan

THE GREATER GOOD Parks, trails, streetscapes, gardens, ­plazas, waterways ... we know we love them, but why? And how will such public spaces define Austin's identity as it continues to grow and change? The June 25 Great Public Spaces forum will focus on these questions and more, with an emphasis on enhancing the public realm enjoyed by all Austinites. The creation of new, inviting public spaces is a hot topic, with Austin engaged in a Waller Creek Master Plan and redevelopment, the Downtown Austin Plan, a new waterfront planning board for Lady Bird Lake, the redevelopment of the Green Water Treat­ment Plant site, and a new comprehensive plan. Forum speakers and panelists will include architects, landscape architects, designers, developers, nonprofits, City Council members, neighborhood activists, and redevelopment experts. Drawing on national best practices and practical examples, participants will discuss how to create a built environment that nurtures and inspires. Organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism-Central Texas, in partnership with the American Planning Association, Central Texas Section, the event will take place Thursday, June 25, 8:30am-4:30pm, at the Mexican American Cultural Center; $40 fee includes lunch. Register by June 21, at www.tiny.cc/ctapapublicspaces. – Katherine Gregor

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