Ooops... I did it again

Trying to avoid the these toxic waters of dirty local politics, but a friend posted this and I thought it was worth sharing.

“In case you’ve seen misinformation from SOS or Rewild Zilker about The Trail Conservancy wanting to pave the hike-and-bike trail, below is a message from TTC with the facts. You can reach out to them for factual information about the code amendments that City Council will vote on this Thursday.

Thanks for sharing this. I sensed something was off about those messages but it’s good to see confirmation.


can you explain to everyone what exactly the trail conservancy is wanting to change about the existing codes and how that helps or hurts the trail?

As I mentioned, new years resolution to not tread in these toxic waters. Feel free - as the post suggests - to reach out to the trail foundation for more info if you’re so inclined.

so are you posting this on their behalf? the message you shared doesn’t provide any information at all about the issue. just a vague statement that they love the trail.

This was shared from a parks friend:

In a nutshell:

There are currently proposed Butler Trail Code Amendments initiated by City Council and drafted by City staff which are a crucial step towards bringing the current trail into compliance with City Code. A 2017 amendment to the City Code rendered approximately 85% of the Butler Trail noncompliant (even more if you consider the current width) with city regulations, meaning if restoration was to be done on the Trail itself it would have to move 50 feet away from the lake - placing it on private property, steep slopes, through heritage trees, and in some cases on top of environmentally sensitive features.

These essential code amendments seek to align the existing trail dimensions and its proximity to Lady Bird Lake with current code requirements, thereby legalizing the trail’s current state and facilitating its continued enhancement in line with the strategies outlined in the 2021 Safety and Mobility Study developed by TTC in partnership with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department and Parks and Recreation Department.

Moreover, these amendments are designed to incorporate environmental requirements that underscore our commitment to shoreline restoration and ecological preservation. This initiative is vital for maintaining the floodplain’s health and resilience, ensuring that our ongoing efforts to improve the natural habitat around the Trail can proceed.

You can reach out to them for factual information about the code amendments that City Council will vote on this Thursday.

so there is no existing process for the city to repair or restore any part of the trail that is within 50’ of the shoreline? or is this an issue because the city has relinquished control of the butler trail to a non-profit that is requesting less oversight for their 15 planned projects?

why would runners and walkers want to allow for more of the trail to be changed to concrete? isn’t that going to increase biking speeds along what is supposed to be a nature trail?

how do these changes impact the SCWD plans along the water? what about other proposed developments that are within 50’ of the water?

Stop being such a troll gggggggggggggggarret.

Thanks, JP and Felicity!

oops, didn’t mean to upset the echo chamber with questions about “information” being shared in a public forum.

more information on the issue:

“ March 5, 2024
Re: an ordinance to amend City Code Title 25 related to environmental protections at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
Dear Mayor, Council, and Staff,
After listening to testimony last week at the Parks Board and Planning Commission, we request that City Council reject the requested amendments as written on the following grounds:

  1. Critical water quality zone rules should not be changed for the convenience of The Trail Conservancy’s (TTC) future projects and funding, nor for any non-profit or for-profit.
    • The proposed Butler Trail Amendments are primarily for future hard surface (concrete) projects within 50 feet from Lady Bird Lake/The Colorado River.
    • Large construction projects that will be enabled by the new code amendments are shown in the Trail Conservancy Safety and Mobility Study. This document recommends double trails, double decker bridges, and overland concrete boardwalks for high-speed bike lanes on The Butler Trail. This information was not presented by staff to the boards and commissions and a TTC representative only cited minor projects when questioned.
    • Code amendments are not required for operations and maintenance of the present trail and new soft trails may already be added in the critical water quality zone. Code amendments needed to maintain the trail are not mentioned in TTC POMA.
    • TTC is asking for these amendments to maximize future development “flexibility”, to “streamline the process”, and to add “surety” to their project budgets, but not to improve water quality, preserve the natural features, nor mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect.
    • The City of Austin should not sacrifice critical water zone protections, nor public scrutiny, to TTC or any non-profit or for-profit entity for the sole purpose that their development projects are easier to build, budget, and fund.

  2. Ethical concerns call into question the credibility of city staff recommendations.
    • The two most visible members of the Watershed Protection Department presenting these amendments have close ties to The Trail Conservancy. One was a former Conservation Director, and one is a former Board member.
    • These relationships with a primary benefactor are compromising the appearance of Watershed’s ability to make independent technical recommendations.

  3. TTC business model has not been evaluated and proven to warrant trust.
    • Is TTC Park Operations Maintenance Agreement (POMA) from March 2021working?
    What are the metrics that define its success?
    • Only 22% of TTC expenses went to trail projects in 2022 (the last date of tax filings).
    • Most TTC funding comes from a small number of anonymous major donors whose motives are unknown. TTC also has a large amount of restricted funds and there is no transparency as to what pet projects those funds are earmarked for.
    For all these reasons, we urge you to reject the proposed environmental code amendments for the Butler Trail. If you cannot vote to reject the proposed amendments, then insist that City technical and legal staff add the attached amendments in place of those proposed to 25-8-261- Critical Water Quality Zone Development section (B)(3) and (C) for the Butler Hike and Bike Trail. These amendments seek to:

  4. Restoration provided at a minimum ratio of 2:1 area as recommended by the Parks Board and Environmental Commission, with prioritization on water quality.

  5. Trail width limited to 20’ for all future restoration and/or capital improvement projects for Butler Hike and Bike Trail, as recommended in the Safety and Mobility Study.

  6. All improvements to the Butler Hike and Bike Trail utilize current existing soft surface materials wherever possible, as determined by Watershed Protection Department.

  7. Assert that the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is a park trail and not an urban trail (as defined in the City of Austin Urban Trails Plan of Nov. 2023, p. 10)
    Sincerely, Rewild ATX”

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Feel free - as the post suggests - to reach out to the trail foundation for more info if you’re so inclined.

Thank you for your questions & concerns GGGGarret!! I always appreciate your input here​:+1::clap:

@ggggarret I think it’s mainly asking questions “Joe Rogan” style to imply something. Doing that, doesn’t help in actually understanding the nuance of the situation and seems to be just trying to drag people into meaningless debate. The same applies to sound bytes saying they just want to pave the hike and bike trail (not true). And as I said, if you’re truly interested (I’m not sure you are) engage with PARB meetings and the trail conservancy.

Garrett there is a process to go through the city to repair and restore the trail within 50’ of the shoreline but it is very expensive and time consuming, you of all people should appreciate this. Hence TTC wanting to be responsible with funds. Unfortunately, sos/ rewild zilker has just fallen into the trap of seeing conspiracies under every rock and now just use that fear-mongering as a fund raising tool. Their alarmist positions would be funny if it did not result in real harm to the other environmental non-profits they attack resulting in the further environmental degradation in our region.

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I can’t believe how willingly naive you all are. It’s like you are still in Eden. You should read Parks for Profit by Kevin Lougran.

That book makes the point exactly. It’s a sociologist critiquing parks and open space rather than actually contributing to solving problems they claim to be important. Obstruction without solution. Hopefully Austin can move past that mindset.

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Hello, I’m sorry to resend a single email in several emails but I received a message that I’m only allowed to send a certain number of links and embedded items. Here is the first:

Please read the below newsletter and take action to at least delay this item so that we and the rest of the citizens can have the chance to educate ourselves and weigh in, as we haven’t been given that opportunity, our right. We must not fall prey to our prejudices; let’s not assume that what we are told by those wielding power and money is truth. Listen to the underdog with open ears, please.
Also see 3 attachments.

From the Free Zilker Coalition:
URGENT ACTION NEEDED to save Lady Bird Lake! Email City Council and Mayor by TONIGHT! Testify at City Council this tomorrow (Item 36, around 10:30 or 11:00am) and email City Council and Mayor by Wednesday night! Here’s what you need to know:

The Trail Conservancy has infiltrated Watershed Protection. This is a big time problem because Watershed is our most sacred environmental city department. Unfortunately, they hired people who were on the board of the Trail Conservancy and used to work for TTC.

Now those people, city staffers for Watershed, are going before City Council on tomorrow to recommend Austin relax standards for development along the hike and bike trail (Butler trail) around Lady Bird Town Lake. They say TTC needs to do this in order to bring the trail into compliance and maintain the trail, but this is a lie. The trail was built before the code was written. As long as they don’t make it more out of compliance, they can maintain the trail. Which is supposed to be their job.

PARD gave them the trail as a park, and they get $900,000 a year in a parks operation and maintenance agreement (POMA). But they don’t really use much of that money or do much work on the trail, as anyone who uses it knows. They do put up a lot of signage with their branding and their business partner branding, soliciting donations. Now, of course, they are crying we are spreading misinformation.

The truth is, we don’t know what they’re planning to do. At the parks board presentation, under questioning, the Watershed staffer who is a former TTC board member finally spit it out that this was to clear the way for TTC to fundraise for capital improvements. However, we know this organization is sitting on millions of dollars from donors they won’t disclose which are earmarked for projects they won’t describe. We are just supposed to trust them.

Trust was broken when this organization was doing the most to commercialize Zilker through the Zilker Vision Plan. The principle architect for the ZVP was Claire Hempel. Claire is the president of the board for TTC. She is also the chair of the Planning Commission, a body largely responsible for the massive developer giveaway imploding Austin today. The TTC has a board of directors stacked with real estate experts, developer interests, and land use attorneys.

TTC wants code changes that will allow them to widen the trail, avoid mitigation, and potentially alter the purpose and vibe of the natural park trail so many of us value for it’s natural canopy and simplicity.

Please write to city council and the mayor immediately, and ask them to postpone, vote no, or accept the Rewild amendments (attached).

We have no reason to trust TTC or their associates in Watershed. If we don’t stop them in their tracks now we will have to fight their projects that threaten our waterfront on a case by case basis.

City Council will take this up on Thursday so there is no time to lose. Email the decision makers and let them know in no uncertain terms nonprofits don’t get to decide how to use our public parks.

Public parks require public oversight. Here’s a link to email all council members: and here’s a link to email them individually plus Mayor Watson:

I would like to free Zillker from the Free Zilker Coalition. Is there a place I can sign that petition?

Jimmy: What evidence do you have to support that assertion? The opposite is true but you insist on resting on assumptions. Why?

Why are you for privatization and monetization of our public parks? Why would you not want to protect the commons? Makes no sense.