The Fine Print of Library Construction

City bond money comes into play

Chatter surrounded construction of a new central library at last week's development-heavy meeting of the City Council. At issue was the adoption of the Architect­ur­al Building Program for the facility, slated next to the Seaholm Power Plant's iconic towers. The program delineates uses and amenities in the new building, including meeting spaces, a cafe, indoor/outdoor areas, and more. Voters approved $90 million in bonds to build it in 2006, but construction is estimated at $120 million, with the city hoping to make up the difference by issuing $15 million in "contractual obligation" debt, reallocating $10 million from Block 21 sales, and other means. "I want to state, contrary to some reports in the media, we did not decide at the last minute to increase the bond appropriated amount for this library," said Mayor Lee Leffingwell, speaking to recent controversy regarding cost. "It was always contemplated that we would need to raise this additional $30 million and add to that $90 million."

In other news from that meeting, council unanimously approved an economic incentives package for Delaware-based solar energy firm SunPower, paying $233 for every job created and held during the term of the agreement – up to about $900,000. Also, $2.5 million in bond funding went to the Marshall Apartments rehab project (see "The 12th of Never"), and the controversial Park planned unit development along Barton Springs was postponed until Jan. 13.

This Week's Wrap:

Council convenes Thursday, Dec. 16, for its final meeting of the year, and with a dense 98-item agenda, they're going out on if not a high note, then at least a long one.

Items 18-20 constitute, according to agenda backup, a "set of Council actions that, taken together, will create a district-wide parking plan for the 2nd Street Retail District" – by letting everyone there park at City Hall. It keeps the agreement with AMLI allowing Second Street shoppers City Hall parking privileges and creates agreements with new patrons, including the W building, for spots (including reimbursement to the city).

More ominous Downtown action: Item 32 leverages $250,000 from the Downtown Austin Alliance against federal dollars to place 23 "public safety cameras" throughout Down­town.

Item 23 adopts the city's program for the upcoming Texas legislative session, while Item 67, from Mike Martinez and Chris Riley, supports the session's House Bill 212, a bill from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez which cracks down on usurious payday and auto-title loans.

On the zoning agenda, we see not just second and third reading and potential approval of a local historic district for Hyde Park (Item 93), but also the return of the tortured Bradford-Nohra historic zoning case (Item 92; see "The Daily Hustle: 10/25/10"). Staff doesn't recommend historic zoning, while the Historic Landmark Commission does.

And making sure no one goes home early, Item 98 is a public hearing and vote on whether to proceed in excavating a retrieval shaft for one of Water Treatment Plant No. 4's underground transmission lines – a proposal vehemently opposed by Spicewood Springs neighbors opposite the proposed shaft.


For an expanded agenda preview and reports from the council meeting, see "The Daily Hustle" at austinchronicle.com/hustle.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

City Council, central library, historic zoning, Bradford-Nohra, water treatment plant

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