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Bastrop State Park Moving Forward on a Year of Major Renovations
BASTROP — Central Texas’ famous Lost Pines were found again and again last year — by 150,000 visitors at Bastrop State Park. The beautifully wooded setting, the historic structures, the large pool, and the rustic cabins all make the park, opened in 1937, a favorite traditional escape for families and outdoor enthusiasts.
"When people think of Bastrop State Park, they think about the Lost Pines," says Todd McClanahan, complex superintendent for Bastrop and nearby Buescher State Park. "It’s an isolated loblolly pine forest, separated from the East Texas pine forest by about 80 miles. It’s a really unique eco-system."
Ensuring guests keep coming back to a great park experience, Texas Parks and Wildlife is now engaged in a major round of repair, renovation and upgrading to this Civilian Conservation Corps-built park located one mile from Bastrop and 35 miles east of downtown Austin.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife has recently repaired one building’s roof and this summer will launch a host of renovations, including replacing the ancient electrical infrastructure in the park’s historic dining hall (refectory) built by the legendary CCC (Company 1805) in the 1930s.
This fall, when summer visitation subsides, several more projects will begin, including renovation of the park’s swimming pool and bathhouse.
Bastrop’s $2,640,700 in improvements are another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
In addition to fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds also provide $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas, protecting that proud veteran of two wars from the corrosive seawater in the Houston Ship Channel.
It’s been 10 years since significant repairs were done on Bastrop’s 73 year-old, 60- by 100-foot pool, one of the park’s big attractions.
"The pool is very popular because it is really the only place in the county to go swimming except a few destinations on the Colorado River," says Park Superintendent Doug Huggins. "It is a CCC pool, built in the 1930s."
Project manager Tony Bettis says pool repairs should start around October and be finished for summer 2011. TPWD will completely resurface the pool and fix a number of plumbing leaks. "We are a conservation organization," Bettis says, "so we don’t want to lose water."
The park’s bathhouse also will be renovated and upgraded, including plumbing repairs and bringing the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since 1997, Bastrop State Park has been a registered National Historic Landmark, primarily for the striking CCC structures made from the park’s native Carrizo sandstone. Visitors first see it in the red stone entry gate. Most spectacular is the dining hall (refectory).
"The refectory is a beautifully rich building with fantastic masonry and heavy timber frame construction," says Bettis. "Originally, in the 1930s, it was a dining, dance hall. We want to replace the entire electrical infrastructure. A lot of the electrical in that building goes back 70 years."
Work on the dining hall is expected to start in late summer and be completed in about five months. Additionally in late summer, six of the park’s 13 cabins will get plumbing repairs, plus replacement of some floor tiles. Also on the schedule: Cabin 6, which has long been closed due to foundation damage, will be repaired and stabilized, and Cabin 12 will be upgraded to ADA standards.
"Our cabins are rented continuously throughout the year," says Huggins. "In the winter we are booked solid. The cabins are rustic and have fireplaces and kitchens, so they are a good place for people to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city."
Numerous other projects will make the park more ADA-compliant. "It will be extensive and far-reaching throughout the park," Bettis says of the ADA upgrades. "We will go into picnic areas, campsites, certain trailheads, and provide accessible walkways, parking, and picnic areas. We are making the park more user-friendly."
Later this winter, renovations are slated to begin at the golf course pro shop. Bastrop State Park’s golf course is a rarity; only three Texas State Parks have golf courses and only Bastrop’s has 18 holes. It was originally designed and built by the CCC as a nine-hole course in the 1930s.
This year’s changes will add greatly to visitor enjoyment and safety in this 5,926-acre, heavily wooded park. There is much to enjoy. In addition to the pool, cabins and golf, the park has 78 tent and RV sites, a small lake for fishing and canoeing, biking on the scenic 12-mile road linking Bastrop and Buescher, challenging hikes and plentiful wildlife watching.
Bastrop also hosts and nurtures the largest remaining population of the endangered Houston toad, and TPWD is actively involved at Bastrop in efforts to strengthen the population with a captive breeding program.
Watch the official TPWD Bastrop State Park video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8MdNlyPjvw
For more information on the park, call 512/321-2101. Or visit the Bastrop State Park website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/bastrop
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