Through the generous contributions of the many Friends of Mount Bonnell in matching a $1,500 grant from the Austin Parks foundation, the first major Covert Park project undertaken by the West Point Society under PARD's Adopt-a-Park program--the restoration of "...the fabulous views of the Colorado River Valley and the City of Austin skyline." through selective pruning and the raising of tree canopies at four key locations on Mt. Bonnell's summit, was completed on January 31st, 2011. Work was done by Austin Tree Specialists under PARD and BCP supervision. Vistas were cleared and broadened at the two picnic tables, the stone wall overlook just north of the pergola and at the pergola overlooking the river valley.
Clearing the view eastward from the pergola was restricted by the potential presence of the bracted twistflower, a protected species growing in the wooded area where substantial work would have been required. The upcoming bracted twistflower survey to be conducted in the May/June timeframe by the Balcones Canyonland Preserve staff will clarify its distribution and the amount of additional work that can be accomplished. Still, the many visitors to Mount Bonnell will be pleased with the extensive view enhancements already accomplished.
Our second improvement project has involved partnering with PARD to erect a double sided kiosk on the summit near the top of the stairs. It will be used to provide visitors with timely information on upcoming events, history, flora, fauna and geology. The kiosk itself has been erected and awaits completion of the stone base and installation of the display boards. A grant from Keep Austin Beautiful has helped to offset the cost of the base.
Concurrently, we have been working with the Covert family to assist in the replacement of the damaged and worn limestone marker recognizing Frank Covert, Sr.’s 1938 gift of the land on which the park stands. The family has agreed to fund the replacement with a granite stone. The architectural/engineering firm of O’Connell Robertson has designed the granite marker and associated improvements to the adjacent landscaping to include partially covering the large planter to form a dais, adding steps and handrails and providing benches. An Austin Parks Foundation grant will cover a substantial portion of the cost. The neighborhoods and Mayor Leffingwell have voiced support for the plan. Details of the plan are being finalized with PARD, at which time a public hearing will be scheduled and the plan submitted to the City Historic Landmarks Commission for approval.
Burglary of vehicles in the parking area has been an ongoing problem, with visitors leaving valuable property in plain view while they tour the park. We have encouraged PARD and APD to work together to post “Hide, Lock, Take” signs throughout the parking area which they have done.
We continue to work with neighborhoods and other Friends of Mount Bonnell to identify and support other future projects.