AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police will be stepping up enforcing existing city ordinances to deal with a recent increase in crime-related issues at the Barton Springs spillway.
In addition to extra vigilance and enforcement, city officials also announced a ban on the consumption of alcohol at the spillway — beginning Sept. 2. That’s when police will begin citing visitors drinking alcohol.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin Police Department have seen a 40 percent increase in crime-related activities in the park area, including excessive drinking; use of illegal substances; theft; smoking; and other violations such as dogs off-leash.
People at the popular city spot will need to have an added focus on adhering to city regulations — including no dogs allowed off-leash and no smoking.
“We want to create a good environment for all of our park users,” said Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley. “As such, we need to enforce the city ordinances that protect, maintain and provide for an enjoyable, safe, family friendly atmosphere for all park users.”
Beginning immediately, you may notice signs about the regulations, as well as public service announcements. That’s what officials are calling a public-education campaign, making people aware of the stepped-up enforcement and new ban on alcohol.
Police say as more people continue to use the park, the increased attention to the spillway area is necessary.
“With more than half a million visitors to the Barton Springs and Zilker Park area, we want to make sure that everyone has not only a beautiful park experience but to make sure that it is a safe environment,” said Police Lt. Arthur Fortune.
While swimming isn’t allowed in the spillway area, Parks and Recreation Department officials know it is a popular spot to cool off and will be working on changing the city ordinance that prohibits swimming in Barton Creek Spillway between Barton Springs Pool and Lady Bird Lake.
Still, the loosening of the restriction won’t come without a warning from the Parks and Recreation Department concerning the fluctuation of water quality, uncontrolled water levels, and no lifeguards on duty.