AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin transportation leaders discussed the future of Waller Creek Boathouse on Monday.

The city-owned boathouse on Trinity Street is expected to relocate to make way for a new light rail route, as part of the voter-approved, estimated $10.3 billion transit overhaul, Project Connect.

The blue line’s route will extend from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to the North Lamar Transit Center, with construction of its Rainey/MACC Station planned in the same area as the Waller Creek Boathouse.

Austin Transit Partnership and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) hosted Monday’s meeting, which took place virtually at noon on Monday. The groups went over feedback and talked about the next steps for the relocation.

PARD leaders said right now, there are “major constraints” at the boathouse’s current location including limited parking and inadequate space for bike racks, dumpsters and maintenance storage. If the boathouse were to stay close to its current location, some heritage trees would have to be cut down, and there would be impacts to the slope and floodplain to accommodate the light rail and boathouse.

Additionally, construction of the blue line would take over the site for several years, so it wouldn’t be possible to operate the boathouse near the construction zone.

In January, PARD identified six potential relocation sites for the boathouse. Staff members said adding a former hostel building along South Lakeshore Boulevard would be the most ideal at diversifying where recreational activities are offered while also minimizing the amount of environmental rehabilitation needed to accommodate a facility.

(Courtesy: Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, City of Austin, Project Connect)
(Courtesy: Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Transit Partnership, Capital Metro, City of Austin, Project Connect)

During Monday’s meeting, PARD said the youth hostel site was still the leading alternative location for the boathouse.

Staff are still exploring additional parking needs at the former youth hostel and how the public can access the area. PARD is also in talks with the Watershed Department to see if there are any environmental constraints as well.

PARD hopes the new facility will be done before the existing one is torn down to help with the transition.

The former youth hostel site off Lakeshore Boulevard is the leading alternative location for the Waller Creek Boathouse so far. (City of Austin, Parks and Recreation Department Photo)
The former youth hostel site off Lakeshore Boulevard is the leading alternative location for the Waller Creek Boathouse so far. (City of Austin, Parks and Recreation Department Photo)

Earlier this month, Austin Rowing Club, which has been a central tenant of the Waller Creek Boathouse, told KXAN it will relocate to the former youth hostel site.

“That area of our community has been historically underserved, in terms of overall services and park amenities. So we’re very excited to be able to bring extensive programming activation and community engagement to the Austin community east of 35, and also on the south side of the river,” Kevin Reinis, executive director of ARC, told KXAN in a May 5 interview.

Reinis added ARC is not a stranger to the youth hostel site, as the organization rowed out of there about 25 years ago, saying “in some cases, it’s kind of coming full circle for the boathouse community.”

PARD is planning another community update specifically about the boathouse around November or December of this year.

In the meantime, PARD encourages people interested in the Waller Creek Boathouse relocation to join the May 26 virtual meeting for the South Shore Working Group, since the proposed Lakeshore station will be the closest stop to the former youth hostel site.