Early last month the Lightsey home at 1805 Lightsey Road was torn down to make way for approximately 31 new homes to be built by PSW Real Estate. The Lightsey home was built in 1932 and sat prominently with a view of downtown at the highest point in the neighborhood. It was located near the intersection of Del Curto and Lightsey (also known as Dead Man’s Curve) which is very close to the geographic center of SLNA.
Over the past year the Lightsey home historic zoning case was heard many times including at the Historic Landmark Commission on March 23rd, the Planning Commission on June 23rd, and lastly at City Council on August 13. Despite the Historic Zoning Commission having voted 4-1 to initiate historic zoning, City Council voted 5-5-1 not to preserve the home. Council members Tovo, Pool, Garza, Casar and Kitchen voted for preserving the home; Houston, Zimmerman, Troxclair, Renteria, and Adler voted against; and Gallo abstained. The preservation of the Lightsey home was overwhelmingly supported by members of the neighborhood, and Council member Ann Kitchen (our District 5 representative) vigorously advocated saving the home. However, the arguments largely fell on deaf ears at City Council.
PSW has said numerous times that if given the demolition permit, they will reuse material from the Lightsey home as site features around some of the heritage trees and especially at the entry along Lightsey Road (http://austintx.swagit.com/play/06232015-880/2/ Item C7 @44:08). This diagram shows the location of some of these features:
Specifically PSW has said:
- We will fully document the existing home; Pictures of each façade and pertinent architectural details, dimensioned site plan existing structure, and historic narrative of the property and its residents
- We are willing to use materials/elements in a site feature that evokes the feeling of the architecture of the existing home
- Use stone from existing home in the tree wells and retaining walls along the Aldwyche Dr extension
We are very much looking forward to seeing the creative ways PSW fulfulls their promise of reusing the materials salvaged from the Lightsey home. We cannot overstate the importance of developers trying to preserve some of the original character of SLNA, so much of which has sadly been lost in recent years.
During the course of hearings defending the demolition of the historic home, PSW’s representative Glen Coleman said that while they appreciate wanting to honor history, “Think about the history we are making”. Making history? Time will tell, Mr. Coleman, time will tell.
The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department held a public meeting on September 3rd to discuss the flooding and drainage issues in the West Bouldin Creek Watershed. This watershed is the area along West Bouldin Creek as it flows from the Zilker neighborhood through SLNA. The watershed department presented a detailed discussion of the problems, and a solution that would be implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1: Construct “small-scale” projects to improve drainage and reduce flooding
- Phase 2: A larger project to address flooding identified in the Preliminary Engineering Report.
Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2016.
The materials presented at the meeting are a very interesting read, and are available online at the links below. We encourage you to have a look. They discussed how projects get prioritized, how storm drain systems work, the history and scope of the problems seen in the Del Curto area, the Preliminary Engineering Report which identified the need for additional inlets, upgrades to existing pipe, additional pipe, and keeping the storm drains within the public Right-of-Way; as well as issues raised such as cost, South Lamar construction, and time-frame.
Twenty small projects were identified as possible enhancements to be made in Phase 1, which is expected to begin in 2016. One of the projects discussed was the “Green Streets” project on Iva and Delcrest, which would reduce the road-way widths and change the streets to be 1-way. The longer term, Phase 2 work would see some preliminary work happen concurrently with Phase 1, but the detailed design would not begin until after Phase 1, probably in 2018.
The Watershed Department staff identified ways that all of us in SLNA can help:
- Avoid building in drainage easements
- Clear easements of obstructions
- Report flooding and drainage concerns to 3-1-1. The “squeaky wheel gets the grease”.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request more information about flood-proofing
We encourage you to read the presentation materials that we have put on the website. You can find them at:
- September 3 Meeting Presentation
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Study
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Maps
It is very exciting to see these efforts to address the problems that we have seen in SLNA, problems which have gotten significantly worse with all of the infill development. Stay tuned!
We all know the words “Memorial Day” and “flood” are no strangers to each other in Austin. With the increasingly wet and stormy weather forecast for this weekend, we encourage everyone to be extra careful around flooded areas. Thankfully, SLNA has not seen a double-digit rainfall flood in well over a decade. With the possibility of flash flooding being forecast, and our ever-changing landscape here in SLNA, there is no telling what would happen should we get a significant flood event. We do have creek drainage crossings on Del Curto, Clawson, Lightsey, Thornton, and Cinnamon Path, and low areas near the train tracks, where extreme caution should be exercised.
As always, if you do see flooding, please take photographs and/or video. This can help the city understand where our problem areas are, and take action to mitigate them.
Please keep your eye on the skies and have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday!