Kevin Nelson: Bandshell has become flood proof

Published 7:58 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

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The Bandshell at Community Park has now been “flood proofed.” This entailed filling in the basement with sand to ground level and also installing 13 inflow/outflow vents for flood water to pass through. Holes which were cut into outer walls and the stage floor to perform the sand infill are now being repaired.

It is fully realized that the structure has stood since the late 1930s, withstanding likely quite a number of floods. However, FEMA regulations dictate that a structure within the floodplain cannot have more than 50 percent of its appraised value reinvested into it within a 10-year period, unless it has been flood-proofed. So, in order for the city to be able to make further repairs to the bandshell (such as the stucco and roofing, several years down the road), this step needed to be completed.

Parks master planning

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The Park Board and City Council both recently voted to approve a parks master planning process for Austin. This means that a team of professionals, who have guided this process for dozens of other communities, will do the same for Austin and its residents.

Our parks crew presently maintains 26 parks, which are inclusive of 23 sets of play equipment, numerous ball fields and soccer fields, irrigation lines for ball diamonds and soccer fields, plus the 422 acres on which all are situated. They also maintain many other non-parks acres such as ditches and boulevards (think Oakland Avenue West, across from Hormel Institute and Hormel Corporate North, etc.), plus trails, well over 12,000 boulevard and parks trees, and the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

The finished plan, to be developed after much input from community stakeholders, park board, and staff, will guide the department regarding where it should focus its energies and resources for the foreseeable future. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the City will be mowing less, as each time a flood property is acquired, it (likely) adds mowing acres; however, it will help to determine which playgrounds and amenities should come to the forefront (and perhaps be enhanced or added), as well as which ones might be redundancies and/or outdated and are no longer needed and/or sustainable. Stay tuned.