The Austin Chronicle

Public Notice: Park Potables Panned at Planning

Beer and wine sales at Barton Springs? Maybe not.

By Nick Barbaro, October 29, 2021, News

Even as the Zilker Park Vision Plan wends its way forward (Public Notice, Oct. 15), joined recently by the Rewilding Zilker plan (see "How Much of Zilker Park Can Austin Return to Nature?"), the city Planning Commission was asked last night to give a thumbs up or down on allowing beer and wine sales at the refurbished concession stand, just outside the entrance to Barton Springs Pool. Of course, "concession stand" really doesn't do it justice anymore: The former hot dog stand is now to be an upscale bistro, helmed by Shawn Cirkiel (Parkside, etc.) among others, with farm-to-table snacks, healthy foods, and ... beverages TBD. The concessionaires and city parks department both say their understanding was that well-regulated beer and wine sales were to be part of the deal, though some documents seem to show that was not the original intent, and a vocal opposition turned out at Tuesday's PC meeting.

Opponents included pool staff, who were outspoken about their safety concerns, and others who don't like alcohol sales that close to the pool and playground, or the enclosure that would be required to meet TABC regulations. But perhaps the most persuasive argument may have been that Vision Plan itself; numerous speakers and commissioners pointed out that now – just as that major long-range plan is getting down to the thorny issues of how much commercialization, how much rewilding, how much preservation, how much access – is a terrible time to make a major policy change that's right at the heart of the most iconic, family­-oriented part of the park. The Parks Board had voted 8-1 to not recommend alcohol sales, and in the end the PC agreed; it's unclear whether the applicants will appeal that decision to City Council, which would be their next and final recourse.

PC was also slated to consider a resolution opposing city staff's plan to move its public meetings – along with those of 14 other city boards and commissions – out of City Hall and into the new Permitting and Development Center at Highland Mall, but ran out of steam at the end of the long agenda, and postponed it until their next meeting. (As you may recall from last week's column, the Zoning and Platting Commission passed a similar resolution last week; others are said to be mulling similar moves.) The PC resolution asks City Council to change the commission's bylaws to require that meetings be held at City Hall, which is something only Council can do, so look for this to bubble up onto council members' plate in the near future.

Back in Austin's early New Wave era, one of the cultural touchstones was the Rev. Neil X's influential radio show on KUT, and he and his band, F-Systems, were consistent envelope-pushers through a key period of the music scene's evolution. Mr. X (aka Rutten­berg) will host a booksigning and record re-release tonight, Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7pm at Waterloo Records, for his new novel Never Grow Up, a serial killer murder mystery about child trafficking and sexual slavery, crafted as a retelling of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Fun read; stop by to pick up a copy, or just say hi.

The sixth annual Austin Green Awards celebration is Wednesday, Nov. 3, 6-9pm at The Sunset Room, 310 E. Third St., with Emma Galbraith, co-founder of the Austin Climate Coalition and co-organizer of the Austin Climate Strike, as keynote. The AGA highlights "outstanding accomplishments in the broad arena of sustainable design and innovation including buildings, landscapes and infrastructure"; the awards celebration is back in person this year, with proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID test required. Tickets and more info at

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