AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin’s Trail Conservancy held an event Saturday at the old Seaholm Intake Facility, kicking off the Arts and Culture Plan that is being implemented along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

 In 2014, a controversial proposed public art installation prompted the Austin City Council at the time to impose a temporary ban on commissioned and donated public art to the Hike-and-Bike Trail, according to the Trail Conservancy. The entity said the moratorium was lifted, but that it has been informally followed ever since.

In April, however, the city council approved a plan to integrate art and culture into the area again.

“We’ve got a three-year plan,” said Charlotte Tonsor, Events Projects Director for the Trail Conservancy. “And we kind of have all these different art typologies. So you’re going to see temporary art-enhanced programming, the beginning of some artists, residencies, performance art, and then bringing art, or bringing artists into our kind of capital projects and using them and community engagement,” she continued. 

“We’re not going to do permanent art for the first three years, we’re going to focus on temporary [installations],” Tonsor said. “We heard also from the public during our engagement, that temporary art was something people really wanted to see because it can change and evolve,” she continued. 

The space where the event was held will also be transformed in the coming years. The Seaholm Intake Facility once provided an essential function to the operation of the Seaholm Power Plant, which was also decommissioned decades ago. 

“This building would pull water in from the lake and it would be piped over to the power plant to cool off the equipment as it was making energy. Then that hot water would go back into the creek and then come back into the lake. So it was this kind of circular process,” Tonsor said. 

By 1996, city council authorized the decommissioning of the facility and all the associated buildings for future use. 

After decades of planning, the trail Conservancy will give the building new life with the addition of public access, a cafe, programming and staffing.