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City works options to clear dust from Auditorium Shores

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TWC News: City works options to clear dust from Auditorium Shores
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Amy Richie and her dog, Frankie, try to dodge the occasional dust storm at Auditorium Shores.

They've noticed the sandstorms occurring a lot more frequently than they have in the past.

"I feel like when I was here a few years ago, it was a little bit better than it is now - a little more grassy," Richie said.

The Richies still brave the storms to play with other dogs and take a dip in Lady Bird Lake, but they know it could be better. Marty Stump, with Austin's Parks and Recreation Department, said city officials also know it could be better.

"Not only does it take an up-front investment, but also a commitment of funds for maintenance and operations over the year because turf grass is crop. It needs to be managed as a crop," he said.

Auditorium Shores has been largely unmanaged for the past dozen years, despite the fact that it sees an estimated one million visitors every year.

It was the same case at Zilker Park until a few years ago when city leaders partnered with C3, the organizers of ACL Festival, to replace all the grass with a type that can better handles large crowds.

"We rely upon a strong relationship with our user groups to help us sustain the quality of the park," he said.

Help could come to the park from the group who hosts the Fun, Fun, Fun Fest. Officials with Transmission Entertainment are still working out the details of their proposal, but they want to cut the dust down before next year's concert series.

But Stump said city officials are also working on a major overhaul for Auditorium Shores, which could cost as much as $20 million and take several years to complete.

One concern city officials say, is replacing the irrigation system now only to replace it again in a couple of years.

Austin resident Lenny Ray says it's not a good use of money, even if private groups will pay for it.

"There is so much hurt right now with other finances. We need to worry about other, bigger circumstances right now than just that," he said.

The City of Austin is hosting two open houses before it finalizes its master plan for Auditorium Shores and Butler Park.

The first one will be Dec. 3 at Dougherty Arts Center on Barton Springs Road.

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