REHABILITATION OF THE HISTORIC BARTON SPRINGS POOL BATHHOUSE
The Barton Springs Bathhouse is a historical and architectural treasure (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) that serves as a community gathering spot in Zilker Park for all types of healthy recreation and that connects us to our past, literally gathering us together as a community and helping tell the story of our environmental, cultural and historical values. Originally built in 1947, the historic Bathhouse has served millions of park goers and swimmers over the past 70+ years and is in desperate need of repair and renovation. The Conservancy plans to rehabilitate the Historic Barton Springs Bathhouse to its original splendor, restore the rotunda and dressing areas, and make the facilities usable for modern needs. The rehabilitated Bathhouse will also be infused with environmental education and learning opportunities to the visiting public about the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, water quality, conservation, and related environmental concerns as called for by the Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan to educate the public and build community support for conservation measures for Barton Springs and the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Once the Zilker Park Visitor Education Center is built, The Conservancy will have even more opportunities to coordinate with and complement additional educational exhibits.
The Barton Springs Historic Bathhouse Rehabilitation is called for by the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and the Zilker Park Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study which includes detailed recommendations for a phased rehabilitation of the Bathhouse. The Bathhouse Rehabilitation project has been approved by the Austin City Council and is funded with a combination of public and private funds raised by the Barton Springs Conservancy, and the design work for the project is underway.
Interested in the Barton Springs Bathhouse? We’d love to show you around.
NEW ENVIRONMENTAL EXHIBITS IN THE SHEFFIELD EDUCATION CENTER
The opportunity to provide new environmental education exhibits comes at a key moment as the Barton Springs Bathhouse is being redesigned and as the numbers of visitors to Barton Springs continues to rise with Austin’s rapidly growing population. The Barton Springs Conservancy supports updating the Sheffield Education Center with exhibits that promote (1) preservation and conservation of natural resources and habitat, (2) establishment, conservation and preservation of parks and open space, and (3) improved environmental literacy by raising awareness and educating all visitors about the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, water quality protection, conservation measures for Barton Springs, responsible land management, and related environmental concerns for the location, importance, and vulnerability of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer, and how upstream water quality and development impacts in the Hill Country can directly affect Barton Springs. In addition to meeting the requirements of the Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan (https://austintexas.gov/faq/salamander-habitat-conservation-plan) for educating the public and build community support for conservation measures for Barton Springs and the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer, the new exhibits will present an engaging exploration of the natural history and culture of the Springs from pre-history to the present, including efforts to improve natural water quality and quantity by promoting environmental awareness and stewardship among Barton Springs visitors to support the protection of water quality and preservation of salamander habitat. As a result, the updated Sheffield Education Center exhibits will promote the preservation and conservation of habitat at Barton Springs by enhancing environmental literacy and comprehension of the complexities of environmental stewardship to the visiting public, students, and park attendees through an improved user experience at the Bathhouse for pool visitors, visitors to Barton Springs and Zilker Park.
AQUATIC PLANTING PROJECT
Barton Springs Conservancy is working with city staff and partner organizations to restore and establish plant life in Barton Springs Pool with the help of generous funding from Austin Parks Foundation to support this work. With recognition from the Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) (http://www.austintexas.gov/watershed_protection/publications/document.cfm?id=196468) that there is a relationship between thriving aquatic plants and water quality, there is consensus that re-vegetation of the aquatic plants will help improve water quality and salamander habitat. The current revegetation plan relies heavily on the successful methods used by Watershed and PARD from the original revegetation from 2004-2013. The goal will be to establish a working protocol for sustaining and maintaining a healthy aquatic plant life that we will advocate for Watershed/PARD to hire fulltime personal to manage in the future.
NATURAL RESOURCES SURVEY OF ZILKER PARK
The Barton Springs Conservancy is excited to announce the completion of the Zilker Park Natural Resource Inventory & Management Guidelines report. An initiative within the upcoming Zilker Park Vision Planning process, the report was commissioned by Barton Springs Conservancy to look at opportunities to improve and sustain the natural areas of Zilker Park over the next four years as park usage is increasing, and to ensure the Zilker Park Vision Plan process has the needed information to embed ecological health into the planning process. This process allows the Barton Springs Conservancy to further its mission of enhancing the Barton Springs experience through environmental education about this beloved treasure of the Austin community.
The survey consultant, Siglo Group, was selected to develop this report based on their planning, design and conservation expertise, as well as their experience with other Austin-area conservation and natural area management projects, including : Butler Trail Natural Areas, Pease Park Master Plan, Laguna Gloria Natural Areas, Ranch Planning , Barton Creek West Greenbelt Ecological Master Plan, and Kingsbury Commons.
The commission of this report would not have been possible without generous funding from the Still Water Foundation, which continues to support the natural resources and environment at Barton Springs and Zilker Park.
CREATION OF A VISITOR WELCOME/EDUCATION CENTER FOR ZILKER PARK
The Conservancy envisions a world-class Visitor Welcome/Education Center (VEC) for Zilker Park with an integrated education experience at the historic Barton Springs Bathhouse. From an education-infused building design to compelling exhibits inside and out, to swimming with endangered species in a natural Springs, to defined running, hiking, and biking trails, to an inviting park with numerous activities, visitors will enjoy an experience not available anywhere else. Providing an integrated recreational and environmental education experience improves community health and helps protect and preserve our natural, historical and cultural resources.
As recommended by the Zilker Park Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study, with the obvious synergies between a new Visitor’s Center, the Sheffield Education Center, and the SPLASH! exhibit, these functions should be accommodated in a single new building to firmly integrate the Sheffield Center and its educational functions into the visitor experience of the Zilker Park.
These recommendations were presented to the Parks and Recreation Board on March 22, 2016, and included the Barton Spring Conservancy’s Conceptual Vision for a Zilker Park Education/Welcome Center which was prepared by Robert Jackson, the award-winning architect behind the visitor center at Westcave Preserve.
The Conservancy works to provide education by focusing on three main approaches: the creation of the Visitor Education Center, continued support and enhancement of existing programs by the City of Austin and hosting events such as art shows and an Education Speaker Series beginning in the fall.
RESTORATION OF THE HISTORIC ZILKER PARK GATEPOSTS
The Gatepost project has restored the historic entry gateposts on William Barton Drive. This project spoke to our vision for improving the visitor’s experience throughout Zilker Park and sheds light on the majestic historic and natural beauty of the City’s most visited and beloved park.