The Battle Over Rainey

The space at 64 Rainey Street may only be a small dirt parking lot, but two of the City of Austin’s boards are in dispute over the site because of its location in the popular downtown district.

The Parks and Recreation Board on October 28 discussed turning lot into the site of The Rainey Street Historic Center, but the Mexican American Cultural Center Board seeks approval to designate it as parkland.

Parks Planning Committee Representative Ricardo Soliz said The MACC Board is looking at two other locations but prefer 64 Rainey Street as it is the only site physically on Rainey Street. “It’s the best place to display the history behind a street that has transformed into a vibrant and vital part of our community,” Soliz said.

The MACC board fears that it will take too much time for the construction of the historic center because of limited funds.

“The construction will be an eyesore in front of the MACC while there are several locations that could be used allowing us to transform the land for our own purposes,” MACC Board President David Carroll said.

Carroll said “exact plans for the future of 64 Rainey Street are still up in the air” but seeks approval by the city as parkland because it associates better with the MACC because of its center, which abuts 64 Rainey Street.

KVUE reported that a developer offered the city more than $1 million for 64 Rainey Street a few years back to improve the area. These improvements included parking solutions for residents but the deal fell through.

Michelle Thomas, a Rainey Street resident, said she likes the idea of preserving the street’s history. “It’s an absolutely wonderful idea to preserve a little bit of history here on Rainey,” Thomas said. “It used to be a neighborhood full of a unique group of people, and just because over the last few years it’s been invaded by condos, it has still held onto its culture.”

Not all those on Rainey share Thomas’ perspective. Many people who work at local bars on Rainey Street said that they wish to see the property serve a more logical purpose. “The street is growing so quickly that basic resources have become very limited recently,” said Rainey Street Craft Pride Bar Assistant General Manager Tre Miner. “It’s so hard to find parking in the area; the only option is to park in paid parking at condominium buildings, and it’s very expensive. Honestly, I come to work not knowing if I’ll be able to find a parking spot that day. We need parking garages over another tourist spot.”

His coworker Anders Dowd agreed. “It’s a waste of money! What’s the interest about one street that has only been here for about the last five years,” Dowd said. “The center would only demonstrate the area’s gentrification.”

With the community voicing its opinion, the Parks and Recreation Board extended discussion time to reassess.

“We have given our two cents about site challenges” said Parks and Recreation Board Director Sara Hensley. “Our biggest concern is that between insufficient funding for the historic center and the lack of concrete plans by the MACC, it is the board’s ruling that the matter must be postponed … to ensure an accurate recommendation.”

The Parks and Recreation board decided that it needed more time to consider the matter and reach the best decision for the city. They will meet again in 30 days to reconsider the matter.


ACL: Too big, Too fast?

“Oh my gosh she is going to slip, I can’t look, someone needs to get her down from up there!” said onlooker, Andrea Hiller in despair watching an ACL-goer creating a spectacle of herself ontop of the mock capitol art display. This year’s Austin City Limit’s Music Festival has drawn huge numbers, but with more people comes more of a chance that ACL could experience unwanted danger for festival goers. This was the case as an unidentified woman is arrested for Public Intoxication after she climbed to the top of a mock capitol art display in the middle of Zilker Park.

On October 12th, as the last night of the festival is coming to a close, an unidentified woman dances on top of an art display recreating the Austin Capitol statue in the middle of the park as the crowd that forms below cheers her on.

“ She is crazy, who does something like that? Climbing to the top of a non-interactive piece of art, dancing and simply she is acting really drunk.” The woman climbed up a few metal poles and hoisted herself onto the slim ledge at the top of the art display. People from nearby concerts gathered as they see a new type of audience, not surrounding a band, but a single woman dancing without a care above the crowd.

The crowd starts to diversify as festival security, Austin Police officers and off-duty “C3” security officers surround the rapidly growing scene. Repeated calls have been made to APD, with no response. However, the APD’s Public Lisa Cortinas, a Public Information specialist, states that this incident is “one of a kind that rarely happens with such a high level of security.”

The ACL Festival website promotes its positive view on safety issues stating, “We are making every effort to create a safe and secure environment on the Festival grounds. On-site security will be provided by the Austin Police Department, the Parks & Recreation Department police and a private security company. Emergency medical staff will be available on site. If you need any assistance, go to the medical tent, or look for a police officer or Festival staff member.”

This shows that the festival is highly prepared for a variety of circumstances in order to keep the attendees safe. This incident is rare yet unusual and fascinated many people who chose to partake in encouraging an unsafe situation by gathering and going the unidentified woman their attention over the ongoing concerts that surrounded them.

However, the unidentified woman did not seek assistance, but instead put herself in danger as she put on a show for audiences at ACL in a drunken haze. After approximately 30 minutes, C3 security officers found a ladder and rescued the woman. The off duty “C3” security officers arrested the unidentified woman at 9:30 p.m. and charged her with the one of very few public intoxication arrests. Repeated calls have been made to Austin police, and have not been answered at this time.

KVUE reported around 80,000 people attend ACL each day. During the two weekends, there were was one overdose incident but besides that there were a “very limited amount of arrests made this year due to increased experience with festival goers,” said V.I.P Productions Director, Aaron Garner. Assistant Chief Jason Dusterhoft said weekend one of ACL ran smoothly with only one arrest on festival grounds and two outside the park. “You have 11 last year, two this time. That’s a pretty big decrease,” said Dusterhoft.

Garner believes that as the festival books bigger names, the crowds will gain momentum as well. “With headliners like Eminem, it’s no wonder ACL has grown so much!”