Parks and Lake Politics

Updated Jan 2010

Currently all is well at the point. If you notice anything that might adversely affect windsurfing access at Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point, please contact a club officer.
August 2, 2005
Several club members showed up at Commissioners Court to speak on several issues that Mr. Barstow brought before the Court. Primarily was a request to eliminate people from entering the water 50 feet either side his "private" boat ramp on the point. This would eliminate the only place to enter the water from the Point during North Winds that we typically get from October through May.

Check out the Commissioners Court website for a transcription and video's of the Aug 2nd meeting at
April 28, 2004
Our current issue was a LCRA Buoy request for 24 mooring bouys by Bob Barstow, owner of the private Windy Point Park that is adjacent to Travis County/LCRA Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point.

Last night, concerned windsurfers and members of the public met with Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Charles Bergh, Roy Turley, Kurt Nielsen and Jeff Allbritton concerning the buoy permit. We discussed this and Mr Barstow presented an alternate proposal (see below). There was considerable discussion about this as well.
The turnout was very good on our behalf (windsurfers) and the comments were well spoken. Thank you all for coming!
The important thing for us to do at this point is to individually and as a group, correspond (written and email) with all of the Commissioners (see below for addresses), the Judge, and the individuals listed below this paragraph. The government officials that make the decisions, hear from the Parks Department, but correspondence from the voting public is VERY important and plays an equal or higher role in their decision making process.
Please write your letters, use some of the info here, include your own views and send them out as soon as possible.
There is a chance that the new corridor could be removed (the wire-line red buoy set) and the "private" boat ramp used without them. If you would like to see them gone, be sure to mention that as well as their hazardous nature & conflict with the current park directive (swimming & non-motor-power sports).
Additional people influential in this decision making process that need to hear from you (as well as the commissioners):
Joe Beal
LCRA - General Manager
P.O. Box 220
Austin, TX 78767

Jim Richardson
LCRA - Water Surface Management
P.O. Box 220
Austin, TX 78767

Kurt Nielsen
Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources
1010 Lavaca, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78701

April 16, 2004
Letter from Mr. Barstow to the club:
I propose windsurf access at Windy Point per the attachment drawing. The judgment affirms my easement right to launch boats from anywhere along the entire water's edge of the LCRA land, unless the County builds a boat launching ramp there. Then, and only then, I am required to launch from the ramp. It built a ramp at a place of its choosing over my objection. There is no holding ground for an anchor there while trailers are hauled in and out of the park to comply with the Judgment. Hence I requested a mooring buoy permit. I think a better alternative all around is to move all boating to the cove with a channel that will accommodate lake access at the best possible wind angle for lake access. I foresee the possibility of windsurfing from much more of the peninsular shore during off-season when there is no swimming. My idea is to always keep windsurfers and swimmers separated for safety reasons. Please call me ( ). I need your input for planning and will meet you at the Point if you wish.

Click here to view Barstow Draft to open entire cove of Windy Point to Power Boating

The following images are a letter from the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources addressed to the Members of the Commissioners' Court dated March 31, 2004 in response to a request from Bob Barstow to place 24 mooring buoys off the point of Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point. (and eventually encircle the entire park with a network of bouys).
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5

The following images are Bob Barstow's correspondence to LCRA regarding the buoys.
Page 1- request to designate the cove and entry channel as boat-only area
Page 2- request to put grid of cable and chains to support a mooring buoy system.
Page 3- request to put buoy system initially 50 feet either side of the ramp and ultimately extending the entire length of the Park Property.

This is a copy the Settlement that spells out Mr Barstow's easement rights (large images):
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7

This letter was written in response to some of the changes that were presented to us at the February 2004 AWC meeting based on member input.

February 12, 2004

Jim Richardson
Lower Colorado River Authority
P.O. Box 220
Austin, Texas 78767

Dear Mr. Richardson,

The Austin Windsurf Club wishes to thank you and Kurt Nielson from Travis County Parks for joining us at our monthly meeting on February 10, 2004 to keep us up-to-date on the current state of Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point.

This letter is in response to the proposed placement of several mooring buoys near the recently placed boat ramp off the end of the Point at Bob Wentz Park.

Bob Wentz Park is unique in the fact that it offers the best public launch area on Lake Travis for the purpose of windsurfing. The Park's proximity to Austin and unobstructed exposure to nearly all directions of wind make it very compatible with windsurfing (and other sailing related sports). In the past, the fact that the Park and main boat ramp were reserved for non-motorized watercraft only added to the positive experience and safety of windsurfing, swimming and diving that are common at Bob Wentz Park.

We understand the legal obligation to provide water access to the neighbor of Bob Wentz Park. We believe that you have more than exceeded the legal expectation of meeting this goal.
  • 1. The addition of mooring buoys to accommodate motorized watercraft off of the end of the Point near the new boat ramp is not compatible with the current focus of the Park, i.e. separating motorized watercraft from the Park users for safety and other reasons. Instead of improving safety, they will increase the risk of injury and damage to equipment.
  • 2. Navigation around mooring buoys and attached watercraft would be very difficult. In certain wind conditions the motorized traffic around these buoys and the buoys themselves would hinder a safe return to shore by windsurfers.
  • 3. The mooring lines attached to the these buoys would be an additional safety / navigation hazard since they could be tangled / snagged by passing windsurfers.
  • 4. Swimmers would be tempted to swim out and hang on to the mooring buoys and then may not have the strength to safely return to shore.
  • 5. Since only a single boat can be launched at a time, a single mooring buoy might seem acceptable to give the trailer driver a chance to park and retrieve the craft, but its existence would also send the wrong signal to other boats and users on the Lake that it is OK to come inside of the swimming buoys and tie up or even come to shore at the Park. This would endanger the swimmers and windsurfers.

  • Additionally, the current configuration of two lines of connected buoys going from shore on either side of the boat ramp is also dangerous to both swimmers and windsurfers for a number of reasons.
  • 1. A North wind requires launching off the end of the point. These winds normally occur during the late Fall, Winter and Spring months when the boat ramp is seldom used. Removal of the set of buoys along the West side of the ramp during this timeframe would alleviate most of the conflicts we have with their existence.
  • 2. The buoys are connected with a cable that is not visible and which causes a hidden navigational impediment to crossing between them safely.
  • 3. The existence of these buoys cause a windsurf either entering the water or leaving the water to swim out 50 feet past them or on returning swim 50 feet back to shore from the last buoy in the line against the North wind. This may not even be physically possibly in a very strong wind.
  • 4. The current line of buoys creates a congestion point where all windsurfers would be launching/returning from a very small area.

  • The Austin Windsurf Club members value the long-standing relationship we have had with the LCRA and Travis County and look forward to strengthening that relationship through continued interaction.


    Shelly J Penner President, Austin Windsurf Club

    CC: Kurt Nielsen, Travis County Parks

    September 2, 2003
    The County Commissioners have voted to increase user fees at the lake parks and some fees at the non-lake parks.
    They listened to what the windsurfing community had to say in some but not all areas. Some of them pretty much had already made up their minds that fees had to be increased versus supporting the parks from the general fund. The lake park user fees will now cover a very large percentage of their operating costs while the non-lake parks will continue to pay a very small percentage of their costs, although slightly higher than in the past.

    A summary is that the Annual Pass goes from $50-$75. Because of the windsurfers voice, the duplicate pass was not eliminated and is still available for $25. Also, because of comments by windsurfers, the Commissioners are supposed to re-visit the conflict between sundown and early closing in the 3-4 week period during the Spring and Fall when the park is closed before dark. Your voice and opinions count, let them know how you feel. They are "supposed" to handle this issue in the next 2 weeks.

    To view exactly how the Commissioner in your precinct voted on each item (there were many individual points), check out the video and transcripts of the September 2nd, 2003 meeting at the County website. Go to Commissioners Court then agenda. More specifically: Sept 2nd agenda Under Issue 31.

    Thanks to everyone that sent in their opinions and otherwise let the Commissioners know how you felt regarding this issue. If you didn't write or offer your opinion then you can't really complain about the outcome.

    Click here for the Latest Document from Travis County outlining the fee proposals. This is an updated version as of 8/26/03.

    August 26, 2003
    We hope you will be able to make it to the Public Hearing Wednesday August 27th at 6pm. See the County website: for details.

    The following is a letter to the Commissioners from the Club as a group. Individuals (members or not) are encouraged to write the Commissioners in their own words. It is ok to use thoughts from this letter. Your letters will have more weight if they are personally composed.

    TO: (each commissioner)

    We recognize the desire for the County to increase park revenue and appreciate the county management's willingness to listen to our comments on the proposal for fee increases. The AWC board has communicated with our membership and has prepared the following list of concerns in response to the current proposal to increase lake park fees. There may be other items to review at a later time as responses from the membership of the club and its friends are still coming in.

    1. Lake Park user fees clearly recover a higher percentage of operating and maintenance costs than the Metropolitan Parks (55% vs 7%). To be fair to all residents of Travis County, these percentages should be equalized. We suggest that user fees be implemented at the Metropolitan Parks since they require large amounts of maintenance. This is especially true with respect to the Northeast and Southeast Metro parks whose athletic fields require an annual maintenance budget of $400,000 each. A parking fee or a per-person entrance fee would be appropriate at these parks, as it currently is at Bob Wentz Park.

    2. The majority of our club members purchase Annual Permits. The County Recommendation states that since 1993 there have been no increases in park fees while the Inflation Rate has increased 19%, during that time period. County Recommendation E raises the Annual Permit from $50 to $75, which is a 50% increase. We believe that we could support a flat fee increase across the board equal to the inflation rate, which would mean an Annual Permit of $60.

    3. County Recommendation F keeps the current rate of $50 and institutes Blackout Days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day). Our club members are strongly opposed to a plan that includes Blackout Dates, we believe that they will be confusing to both the staff and the public.

    4. The elimination of the Duplicate Permit would cause the County to lose $5,000 in annual revenue. Families enjoy the flexibility to use which ever of their personal family vehicles that suit the purpose on a given day. Rather than purchasing an additional permit at the full rate or paying the full price for entry, they would probably make alternate plans. However, raising the Duplicate Permit price by the 19% inflation rate stated would increase park revenue. (Duplicate Annual Pass = $24)

    5. Some of the club members carry their windsurfing equipment in small trailers and are opposed to any additional charge for bringing a trailer to the park. These trailers do not add any expense to the operation of the park.

    6. As the County continues to build additional Metropolitan Parks, the operating costs for the park system as a whole are obviously going to increase. Plans need to be made in advance for how the operations and maintenance for these new parks are going to be funded. Let us work together to inform the public during the planning and proposal stage so that the public does not get these unexpected rate hikes.

    Continued dialog on the points of contention will be very helpful as the community interacts with the county management structure. Please contact me or write me a responsive memo to this list of points above. I want to ensure that I accurately know what your position is on these matters so that I do not make any erroneous assumptions.


    Sign and date them (if mailed) and include your normal mailing address (if it is within Travis County, it also has more weight). If you mail a copy, it is best to use a different color ink than what the letter is printed with. It should also fit on a single 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.

    County Judge
    Samuel T. Biscoe
    314 W. 11th St., #520
    Austin, TX 78701
    Commissioner, Precinct 1
    Ron Davis
    314 W. 11th St., #510
    Austin, TX 78701
    Commissioner, Precinct 2
    Karen Sonleitner
    314 W. 11th St., #530
    Austin, TX 78701
    Commissioner, Precinct 3
    Gerald Daugherty
    314 W. 11th St., #500
    Austin, TX 78701
    Commissioner, Precinct 4
    Margaret Gómez
    314 W. 11th St., #525
    Austin, TX 78701
    Roy Turley
    Parks Program Manager
    Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources
    1010 Lavaca, Suite 300
    Austin, TX 78701

    ----------- Jon and Shelly

    August 15, 2003

    At the Tuesday evening AWC meeting, Roy Turley from Travis County Parks and Natural Resources (PNR) spoke about the proposed fee increases for the lake parks. (See previous email/post with the Commissioners Court transcript). He gave us some background information, answered questions and considered our input.

    Travis County is trying to increase its annual revenue in order to decrease its dependence on the General Fund, which currently faces a nine million dollar shortfall. The operating and maintenance costs of the county parks system has increased dramatically. This is due primarily to the addition of two new metropolitan parks and an inflation increase of 19% (since the last fee hike in 93).

    There are seven Lake Travis Parks and two other county-owned parks where entrance/day use fees are collected. These park entrance fees have not been increased since 1993. The other twenty-three county parks are free to the public.

    Operation expenses of the metropolitan parks are significantly higher than those of the lake parks due to ongoing maintenance required to keep the athletic fields in good shape. These expenses are expected to increase as more parks and athletic fields are built. The county charges Adult sports leagues fees to use the athletic fields. State law prohibits the county from charging non-profit youth leagues any field usage fees. They can, however, be charged for other amenities such as lights and parking. Shelter fees and concession rental fees are also collected.

    The challenge is for the County to raise revenue. Apparently, the easiest way to do this is to simply raise the entrance fees at the nine non-metro parks. The Austin Windsurf Club would like for them to consider other options that do not affect one user group in particular but rather distribute the burden evenly to all park users.

    Several valid points were brought up by those club members present.

    1. Lake park users should not have to take up the slack and pay for the increasing "operation and maintanence" costs due to the addition of the new NON-Lake parks.

    2. Lake park and non-lake park users should be assessed usage fees equally. It was suggested that entrance fees be charged at all parks and annual passes sold for all parks.

    3. Park operations and maintence should continue come from the general fund, not increased user fees.

    4. PNR is asking for a 50 to 60 percent increase in user fees (including entrance and annual passes) while inflation is only 19%. If any increase is accepted,it should not exceed 19%.

    5. If the County is looking to recover "operations and maintanence" costs from Lake park users only and continues to aquire additional NON-Lake parklands, where do the increases end? The County MUST have a plan for supporting additional parklands other than continually increasing user fees at the Lake parks.

    6. Fees for equipment trailers (such as windsurfing) should not be assessed as they do not put any additional load on the park system. People who launch boats typically leave the park in their boat so shouldn't be assesed an additional fee just to launch since that is the only reason they paid an entrance fee or bought an annual pass.

    7. All members present were opposed to the possibility of "black-out dates" for the annual passes and the elimination of the duplicate pass. All stated that they would not purchase a second (full price) pass for another vehicle thus costing the county a reliable revenue source.

    The county is still accepting and encouraging public input. The schedule for the public meetings to be held next week is as follows:

    Monday, August 18, 2003
    6:00 PM-8:00 PM
    PNR West (Satellite 3)
    14624 Hamilton Pool Rd.
    Austin, TX 78738

    Wednesday, August 20, 2003
    6:00 PM-8:00 PM
    Baty Elementary School - Cafeteria
    2101 Faro Dr.
    Austin, TX 78741

    The final public hearing will take place:

    Wednesday, August 27, 2003
    6:00 PM
    Travis County Ned Grainger Administration Buliding
    Commissioners' Court
    314 W. 11th Street
    Austin, TX

    If you can make one or all of these meetings, it would help the cause. If you cannot make the meetings please email your opinions to Roy Turley at
    Write to your Commissioners

    Write to your Commissioners

    The Austin Windsurf Club will be issuing a general statement soon. Please feel free to send us your comments or concerns.

    411 West 13th Street
    Executive Office Building
    P.O. Box 1748
    Austin, Texas 78767
    (512) 854-9383
    FAX (512) 854-4697
    August 13, 2003
    For more information contact Scheleen Walker, Travis County TNR 
    Planner/Liaison, phone (512) 854-9383
    The Travis County Commissioners Court has scheduled a Public Hearing on Wednesday, August 27,
    2003, at 6:00 p.m., in the Commissioners Court Room (Granger Building, 314 W. 11th Street,
    Austin).  The Court would like to hear comments on all proposed county fee changes in the
    proposed fiscal year 2004 budget.  County residents interested in the county park system
    are encouraged to share their views regarding preliminary plans to change most 
    park-related permit fees throughout the system, including fees associated with Day Use;
    Annual Day Use; Pedestrian/Bicycle entry; Primitive Camping; Improved Camping;
    Night Diving; Overnight Camping for Lone Star or Annual Permit Holders; Boat Trailer
    Parking; Sports/Athletic Fields; Additional Services associated with athletic facilities;
    Shelter/Pavilion rentals; and Concession Building Rentals.
    The current park permit fee structure has been in place since 1993, with very few changes
    since that time.  Park fees help pay for operating costs associated with park facilities. 
    These costs include landscape, restroom, and athletic field maintenance; litter and 
    garbage pick-up; visitor protection and program development.  Travis County Parks
    Department staff will host two meetings prior to the public hearing in order to discuss
    the proposed park fee changes in detail and receive questions and comments on the proposal.
    All interested citizens are encouraged to attend one or both of these meetings, as well.
    Monday, August 18, 2003
    6:00 PM-8:00 PM
    Travis County’s West Service Center
    14624 Hamilton Pool Rd.
    Austin, TX  78738	
    Wednesday, August 20, 2003
    6:00 PM-8:00 PM
    Baty Elementary School - Cafeteria
    2101 Faro Dr.
    Austin, TX 78741
    For more information about the proposed fee changes the public can contact the county’s
     Parks and Natural Resources Division at 854-9437.  Comments can be e-mailed to or faxed to 854-6474.

    August 2003
    Travis County Parks and Natural Resources is again seeking to increase entrance fees at the Lake Parks (only) which already cover 55% of operations costs vs. the NE and SE Metropolitan Parks which only cover 7% of their operating costs. This obvious disparity should be evened out before increasing Lake Park user fees any further. Proposed Fee increases are from 40-100% whereas inflation has only risen 19% (according to the County presentation) since the last rate hike in 1993.

    January 11, 2000
    At a public hearing, members of the public, press and LCRA listened to public comment on the list of recommendations that resulted as part of the stakeholder committee process and LCRA staff. The new list represents a lot of hard work on the part of the stakeholders committee and has removed/modified many original items that were considered controversial by much of the public. The updated list of recommendations may be viewed at the LCRA website.

    September 27, 1999
    LCRA is up to their antics again. Their Lake Advisory committe has recommended to the LCRA board sweeping changes to boating and recreation on Lake Travis in the name of safety.
    Check their website for a list of the recommendations, a public comments message board and more.
    Even though some of these sound reasonable, once you start excluding certain boating types and placing major restrictions on recreation, windsurfing will be next on the list for more rules. Other than adding additional enforcement personel and boater education, additional rules and legislation are not justified until the current laws are adequately enforced. The Texas Water Safety Coalition has been formed to create a unified voice and response to the LCRA. This group includes key players from Marina owners, property owners and different boating type organizations. Here is an interesting article from the AAS
    From Surfrider news...
    Jet Skis banned at National Seashore

    (5/99) Jet skis and other personal watercraft have been banned at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina's Outer Banks. As Russell Long, the Bluewater Network Director states, "The Park Service wouldn't allow a park visitor to dump three gallons of gas and oil into park waters, so why would they allow a jet ski operator to do so?" Personal watercraft, with their typical 2-stroke motors, are environmental disasters. Among their environmental impacts are degraded wilderness, increased conflicts with other recreation users, toxic water pollution, noise disturbances, harassed and injured wildlife, and increased boating accidents.

    The Austin Windsurf Club has played a major role in determining the outcome of policies, procedures and fees for the Travis County (both county owned and LCRA) Parks.

    In 1997, without our knowlege, the Commissioner Court already had voted to eliminate the annual passes and for the removal of almost all of the parking spaces / lot area on the Point for more volleyball courts. The windsurfing community rallied and did a grass roots political effort to bring these actions back to a vote and had the decisions reversed. Thanks to the efforts of Gil Yetter, Guy Miller and many of the Austin Windsurf Club members, we reversed this ridiculous situation. Much time was spent meeting with members of the Travis County Commissioners Court and the LCRA, speaking at public hearings and in Commissions Court. Without this effort, valuable parking spaces (payed for with taxpayers money) would have been lost (at additional cost to taxpayers).
    In 1999, one day while channel surfing, a member came across a Travis County Commissioners Court replay on cable channel 17 (Travis County TV), where the Transportation and Natural Resources (TNR) department was pitching a proposal for increased park fees, elimination of the annual pass and the implementation of new fees at some primative parks where an entrance fee was not being charged.

    After the AWC board was alerted, the club went to work researching this proposal. After several Commissioners Court meetings and a Public Hearing on the issue, the Majority opinion of the Commissioners was swayed against TNR's recommendation to increase park fees.

    Here are comments from some of the members following the final vote on August 31, 1999:
    Hey everyone,

    Things did turn out as we had hoped, but to be fair about my perspective... until the court voting session was over, I was not sure that it would turn out as it did. It really did seem that increased fees were going to happen.

    The accumulative efforts of everyone that contacted the County Commissioners was the deciding factor. I honestly believe that within the last week or so the last few of you that finally got your act in gear and contacted the Court made this happen. IT was so close that recently the Admin for one of the Commissioners was convinced the there was not enough votes to prevent the higher fees.

    We all need to learn that each and everyone of us can have an impact when speaking together as a unified team. So next time please, please, please don't hesitate and join in earlier and more often to help yourself and your fellow Travis County residents and Windsurfers.

    The financial data on the Parks budget that we distributed and posted on the Web site made a significant difference. The Parks dept. staff was very grateful the we have distributed the information because they do not have a way to do so themselves. Hopefully we can learn to work better with the Parks dept. and help them to share their financial data with the public as we obtain it.

    The one thing that I learned is that the Parks Dept. is not the origin of these issues. The real problem source is the unfair distribution of our Tax dollars as a portion of the total Travis county General Fund.

    Lets all take a moment to think about this recent chain of events and ponder just how to make the future better in our relationship to the Parks department.

    See you at the next meeting (on the water)
    Gil Yetter

    Subject: The vote is in and ...
    WE WON! YEA!

    The Commissioners court voted against the recommendation to add a $3.00 use fee to county land parks 3 to 2 and it went downhill for the fee recommendations from there. The Commissioners did not even bring the recommendation for initiating a $5 fee at some Travis County lake parks or the increase of the remaining lake park fees to a vote. No one wanted to make a motion vote on them. They amended the sport field fees rates to a lower level and passed them. Then they voted to keep the annual pass at the $50 level and of course, to keep the senior citizen passes. About the only thing that passed unchanged was the shelter fees and increase of the concession building rental fees.

    I have to say that the death stroke for the fees was the fact that the survey showed that the voters were not in favor of user fees more than 50% of costs. That and Commissioner Gomez opposition to the general use fees on the land parks did the proposals in.

    Gil and I were there to try to make one last statement on the subject, but we didn't even get called. In the middle of the voting, Gil raised his hand to try and make a statement, but Commissioner Sonleitner told him to put his hand down, it was going to be over quickly and that he was going to be not unhappy with the result.

    Unfortunately, after the vote, the TNR heads said that they would have to reevaluate the FY 2000 parks projects and get back to the court on which ones they would be able to implement. We are probably going to have to hound them until they realize that they need to fund the parks BETTER! (Did the survey say 50% funding from the General Fund or not?)

    Getting down off my soap box,

    Recent links and info from the 1999 proposed fee increase:

    May 1999:Alert! Travis County is proposing eliminating the annual permit and raising park fees from $5 to $7/visit.
    The Taxpayer, Internet and User Survey results were presented at the July 27th Commissioners Court. The decision was postponed until next month.

    9 Members of AWC appeared at the Aug 25th hearing, most voiced their opinions on the proposed fee changes. It appears Commissioner Sonleitner is in favor of keeping the annual passes, but wants to raise the fee. Commissioner Baxter sees that the LCRA park users already pay 79% of the operating costs of these parks while the non-LCRA parks only pay 12%. He is not in favor of increasing fees at LCRA parks. The commissioners should be voting on the fee proposal at the Tuesday Aug 31st Commissioners Court meeting at 1:30pm.

    Click to see Summary of 91-98 Park Budget numbers
    Click to see the (revised) proposed County survey and Fee Study
    (Defunct link)The actual survey, but not too late to...
    Write to your Commissioners
    (Defunct link) Statesman coverage of Commissioner's Court meeting May 4th.

    We have asked the Parks department to keep us informed about upcoming events that affect the parks, but we still need to keep tabs on City/County/Parks happenings (since we are not always included in the preliminary details) to prevent decisions that adversely affect the parks and their users. If you know of or see anything that is suspicious, please contact a board member.