Businesses feel in limbo as Lake Austin boat dock about to be closed for repairs

Walsh Boat Landing off Lake Austin will close in October for repairs and the city is reviewing the possibility of keeping it closed to businesses after it's done. (Photo: CBS Austin)

A busy boat dock on Lake Austin will soon be closed for repairs, and businesses are worried it could be permanent.

The Walsh Boat Landing on Lake Austin will close on October 21 to both commercial traffic and residential traffic. Austin Parks and Recreation says they need to make repairs to the foundation of the dock and give it an upgrade.

Businesses that use the dock, though, are worried that closure could be longer. In January, the city said it was only going to allow 15 permits for businesses to use the dock. That’s because the city said commercial traffic was “dominating” the park land.

However, Friday the city told owners any business can apply for the $500 permit.

“We just had a reset on this and decided that the best approach was to go ahead and allow the operators to come back,” Ricardo Soliz with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said.

Soliz said they changed their mind because some businesses complained and the dock will be closed in a few months anyway.

Soliz said they need to make repairs to stabilize the banks that have deteriorated over the years. He says commercial boats may have added to that damage, which is why they may not allow commercial businesses back to the dock after the repairs.

“It’s something that we really need to think about that and the future of walsh boat landing,” Soliz said.

Nothing has been decided yet, they still need to make designs. However, it’s a looming thought for businesses.

“It gets a little frustrating and stressful it really does,” Ryan Santiago with “Keep Austin Wet” said.

Santiago said he feels like he’s in a gray area at the moment even with the good news from the city on Friday. He says the dock is a way he makes his living and he doesn’t want to have to find another location to operate his business.

“A lot of people don’t want to drive 45 minutes to Lake Travis, this is literally seven minutes away,” Santiago said.

“We love Lake Austin I’ve grew up here, this is my backyard and I’d hate to leave it,” he said.

Homeowners, though, are not a fan of all the businesses using the dock.

“It’s packed, parking lot’s full there are boats parked in the neighborhood, boat trailers in the neighborhood,” homeowner Blake Tollett said.

Tollett said there are just too many businesses taking over the dock adding to traffic and parking issues. He was not happy to hear the city decided to stop the 15 permit rule.

“The city could do something, it’s unfortunate it’s just real unfortunate,” Tollett said.

He is not in favor of businesses not being allowed to use the dock in the future, but he wants it limited. He also says residents will not be happy about the dock closing to them as well during the repairs.

The city says it will take at least a year, maybe more to make the repairs. It could be extended so construction crews for a future dam improvement project can use the dock.

The city still has a grant for the project which makes up most of the $655,000 budget. However, the city has already spent 30 percent of that money on design firms and engineering consultants.

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