Bond Election Advisory Task ForceFeb. 8, 2018

Item 4a- Parkland and Open Space Working Group Recommendation — original pdf

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Open Space Working GroupReport and Possible Action on Itemsfor the Bond Election Advisory Task ForceMembers: Estrella De Leon, Tom Nuchols, Jeff Smith and Rob Walker, chair February 8, 2018I.Purpose - 2018 election bond funding forA.Watershed protection land acquisition ($72 million), andB.The Parks and Recreation Department ($45 million)II.Watershed Protection land acquisition ($72,000,000 request)A.Our water quality is at risk, and the available and affordable land is diminishing. See the Edwards Aquifer recharge contributing zone slides, attached.1.There has been significant development growth in the watershed since19982.See the 1998, 2006 and 2017 slides of maps showing the increase indeveloped tracts of land in the watershed area over those years. Time isrunning out and land prices are rising.B.Objective: Limit development to 10% impervious cover in the Edwards Aquiferrecharge and contributing (source-water protection) zones. This requirespermanently protecting 100,000 acres of land to mitigate flooding and to protectwater quality in the creeks and the aquifer.1.Presently only 28,000 acres are permanently protected.2.We recommend $72 million to acquire an estimated 4,300 acres – about6% of the 72,000 shortfall ($36 million for acquiring fee simple tracts and$36 million for acquiring conservation easement acreage).3.Popular proposition with the voters - 62% average voter approval in 4bond elections from 1998 through 20124.Good investment of bond funding. a.Of the bonds approved from 2006 through 2013, Drainage andOpen Space funding has the highest percentage of funds expendedto date of any of the bond propositions - 96%. b.The majority of funding is spent within the first 2-3 years of a bondprogram.5.Currently, bonds are the only funding source for significant WatershedOpen Space land purchases Open Space Working Group report to BEATFFebruary 8, 2018 Page 2______________________________III.Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) bond funding ($45,000,000 request)A.The issues: 1.Austin is becoming increasing deficient in parkland. The standard is 24acres per 1,000 population. We’re now below 20 acres, a deficiency ofabout 5,000 acres (please see the attached graph).2.Our Council has no funds to act quickly to secure beautiful tracts and openspaces that become available; The Grove problem.B.We recommend $45 million for parkland acquisition, allocated as follows:1.$10 million for 200 acres in Oak Hill out Highway 71 for a metropolitandestination park.2.$5 million for 5-10 infill parks in park-deficient areas of our City.3.$5 million for 10 miles of greenbelt including completing the northernWalnut Creek park and trail system 4.$25 million for a parkland reserve fund to help preserve or acquirestrategic tracts as they become available. a.This seed money will give our Council leverage to act fast on tractsthat come on the market. We don’t want a repeat of The Grove.b.It will help attract grant money and private donor partnering toacquire and preserve beautiful open spaces for our Citizens,including:– Lions Municipal Golf Course. Lease expires in 2019. Thisreserve fund will demonstrate to the University, the StateLegislature and private donors that Austin is committed topreserving Muny for parkland, watershed protection, clean air, andrecreation. Preserving Muny will give Austin added leverage inpreserving the Brackenridge lake front tract, one of the first areasof affordable housing in our city– State and AISD properties, e.g., Austin State Hospital, AustinState Supported Living Center, and Palm School. – Other parkland acquisition opportunities for destinationparks, greenbelt and infill parksc.The reserve fund may yield an excellent return on investmentthrough judicious sale of portions of acquired properties not usedfor parks, affordable housing and watershed protection. (Austincould have made millions on The Grove by planning it in a moreappropriate manner had we been able to buy it for TXDOT’s $27million asking price.)d.It will give PARD the flexibility and speed needed when strategictracts come on the market 2018 Bond Election Advisory Task Force: Open Space Working Group Water Quality Protection Lands Program Recharge Zone Swallets showing groundwater directly entering the aquifer 1.Whirlpool swallet showing groundwater directly entering the aquifer. This recharge swale was injected with Eosine dye on 8-6-02 at Cripple Crawfish Cave by Onion Creek. The dye showed up at Barton Springs 17 miles away in less than 3 days. Photo by David Johns. 2.Another swallet. If the swallets get paved over, where will our aquifer water come from? Or, if the contributing water is polluted, then what? Land Impacts: Developed vs. Undeveloped 3 Developed land: −Pollution in runoff −Increases flooding −Reduces recharge −Decreases creek base flow −Impacts are irreversible Undeveloped land protects water resources: −Cleaner runoff −Mitigates flooding −Maintains recharge Edwards Aquifer recharge & contributing zones 4 •Clean, plentiful water is a citywide priority for Austin. •As the Austin area continues to grow, the land that provides clean water is being developed. •Water originating west of Austin becomes drinking & recreation water for SE, S central & SW Austin. Image for planning purposes only to display approximate locations of development over time. Map does not represent real property boundaries. Image for planning purposes only to display approximate locations of development over time. Map does not represent real property boundaries. Image for planning purposes only to display approximate locations of development over time. Map does not represent real property boundaries. Watershed Protection Open Space Goal 8 Protection of critical areas in Source Water Protection Area to preserve or mitigate water quality and quantity through the strategic acquisition of land along main channels, tributaries, and significantly large upland tracts. Long-Term Protection Goal: Maintain overall impervious cover percentage at under 10%* •Permanently protect up to 100,000 acres of land in the Source Water Protection Area 28% complete Over 28,000 acres permanently protected Over 70,000 acres to protect *Irreversible water quality impacts observed when total impervious cover exceeds 10% 2018 Bond Needs Assessment: Funding Scenarios 9 28% to goal Current Status 29% to goal $20M Scenario 32% to goal $72M Scenario 37% to goal $150M Scenario +800 acres +4,300 acres +9,000 acres More funding = more leveraging opportunities and more permanent land protection 10 Contributing Zone •7% protected •2/3 Barton Springs Zone outside Austin’s jurisdiction •Development regulations in other jurisdictions are less protective of water quality Recharge Zone •25% protected Irreversible water quality impacts observed when total impervious cover exceeds 10% Water Quality Protection Lands Program High Voter Appeal/Rising Land Costs 11 All Four Water Quality Protection bonds voter-approved: May 1998 - Nov 2012 62% average approval vote 4 elections total: $157.6M for 28,354 acres plus partnership contributions of $24M = $181.6M ($6,405/acre average) Need for Watershed acquisition now Cost per acre over time Land Availability 2018 Bond Election Advisory Task Force: Open Space Working Group Parkland Acquisition Fund Overview St. Edwards Park How park-deficient are we? 2 Per 1,000 Population Year (* Bond Year) Park Acres Per 1,000 Population Acres Per1,000COAStandardIn 2020, Austin will have a park deficit of about 5,000 acres. * Where Austin is park-deficient 3 Infill parks to serve existing residents 4 Located in park-deficient areas. The Imagine Austin goal for access to parks is: •¼ mile walk in urban core •½ mile walk outside the urban core Pocket parks: up to 2 acres; Neighborhood parks: 2–30 acres Tom Lasseter-South Lamar Neighborhood Park Parkland bonds and purchasing power have diminished over time; our proposal 5 Bond Year Funds Acres Parks Acquired, Expanded or Proposed Destination Parks, Sports Complexes & Centers Neighborhood & Pocket Parks Greenbelt miles 1998 $40,000,000 2,045 7 3 8 2006 $20,000,000 264 5 4 3 2012 $ 4,000,000 99 0 3 3 2018 $20,000,000 300 1 5-10 10 2018 $25,000,000 Reserve fund to help preserve and acquire beautiful, strategic tracts for our Citizens like Muny & the State Assisted Living Center Greenbelts to mitigate the impacts of urbanization on Austin residents 6 •Minimize flood potential •Increase access to nature •Connect neighborhoods to parks by trails Country Club Creek Greenbelt How bond funding plays a crucial role 7 •Bond Funding is critical to:  Acquiring metropolitan parkland, critical gaps in greenbelts, neighborhood parks and pocket parks  Giving our City a reserve fund as seed money to acquire and preserve major tracts and open spaces. It will help attract grant money and private donor partnering for those major acquistions •Opportunities to acquire and preserve beautiful parcels for our Citizens are quickly disappearing, like The Grove and MUNY. Reserve Fund for Acquiring Strategic Tracts 8 •A $25 million parkland reserve fund is critical for giving:  PARD & Council flexibility, speed & leverage in negotiating for beautiful strategic tracts like MUNY and the State Hospital