THE WAY I REMEMBER IT
Earlier this week a news reporter stated that there was only one boat ramp open on Lake Travis because it was so low. We are having a drought. But the fact that that one ramp was in the park just west of the Mansfield Dam brought back memories of how that park got there. As I remember it, it went something like this.
The Austin Chamber, of which I was the CEO, also operated the Highland Lakes Tourist Association. This was an organization we formed in 1954 made up of six small Chambers of Commerce in the lakes area and Austin. The lakes were not well known, and were used very little, so the HLTA was formed to try to promote them. As people began coming to the lakes, they found it hard to find a place to launch their boats, and to find usable park land.
My staff man, Tom Perkins, the Chamber VP for Tourism, Ed St.John and myself acquired a map of LCRA properties along the lakes. We toured as many as were accessible, and determined two or three would make excellent public parks. One of these was the land next to Mansfield Dam on Lake Travis. The problem was, an individual had fenced the property and was enjoying its use as if he owned it.
When we approach the LCRA about its use as a park, they were amenable, but said they had no funds to develop a park. So we approached Travis County, and they said they needed a park in that area, but were not aware that land could be made available. And then there was the matter of access to the property. When approached, the individual who had used the property for years wasn't all that happy about the idea, but knew it was LCRA land even though he had put a chain link fence along the highway. And access from Highway 620 also had to be cut through.
So, I sat down, and in layman's language wrote three agreements. One was for the LCRA granting use of the land for a public park. Another for Travis County saying they would develop and maintain the park. A third for the Highway Department (TxDOT) saying they would provide access from Highway 620. We delivered these drafts to all the parties involved, and in just two years, with a little prodding, the lawyers had converted my drafts into legal documents making it all possible. So now, even in this drought period, when the lake is low, you can still enjoy launching your boat in the most used County Park in Travis County.
Vic Mathias - June 29, 2009