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City Council Will Consider Turning 'Barking Springs' Into an Off-Leash Park (Update)
Austin City Council will consider taking a look at turning the spillway outside Barton Springs Pool into a city park.

Update: Council approved a study to turn the Barton Springs Pool spillway into a city park.

Original Post (Aug. 27, 2014): The Austin City Councilwill consider whether or not to turn the "free side" of Barton Springs Pool – some call it "Barking Springs" – into a city park.

A proposal from Council Member Chris Riley on tomorrow's agenda calls for studying the idea of turning the spillway that bridges the springs and Lady Bird Lake into an off-leash dog park, as well as allowing swimming there. Riley's resolutionwould direct City Manager Marc Ott to ask the Parks and Recreation Board and the Animal Advisory Commission what city code would need to be changed to make the park a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Austin Police Departmentbanned drinking at the spillway after a rise in crime in the Barton Springs and Zilker Park areas.

Rileysays the spillway's been an attraction in Austin for years, and admits the area's known for some unsavory behavior. He says the study aims to cement how to go about making the area family-friendly.

"There’s no doubt that we’ll need to have some way of  maintaining some degree of control of unruly behavior down there," Riley says. "But I also hope we can continue to allow some latitude of having a fun place to cool off with your dog."

Currently, it's illegal to have an off-leash dog at the spillway, and it's technically illegal to swim there, despite the area's popularity. The resolution language calls the enforcement of both policies "inconsistent and sporadic," but also says the Parks and Recreation Department has received complaints about "inappropriate" behavior, as well as citations for off-leash dogs.

Council will vote on the item tomorrow.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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