Monday, May 6, 2013

The Unforeseen Tells History of Development in Circle C Ranch

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Recently, we watched the movie The Unforeseen, a 2007 movie that was critically acclaimed at Sundance and other movie festivals. Produced by Robert Redford, who spent the summers of his youth swimming in Barton Springs, the movie tells the story of the developments over the Edwards Aquifer, including development in Circle C Ranch, in the early 1990s. The film includes many perspectives, including that of land developer Gary Bradley and the Save Our Springs Alliance.
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This screening was unusual for several reasons: first, it was at the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane, a theater that, somewhat ironically, was built last year above the very aquifer that was featured in the movie. It was sponsored by the Save Our Springs Alliance, which had speakers after the movie as well.
One of the speakers I found most interesting was Ira Yates. The entire area of Circle C Ranch in Southwest Austin was once part of Ira’s mother’s ranch. He initially partnered with Bradley for development in Circle C Ranch, but his viewpoint has changed since then.
On the subject of development over the aquifer, Ira said, “It continues to pierce me emotionally. The proposed highway (SH-45) is a critical point.
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It’s symbolic to me. The Save Our Springs ordinance passed, then was erased. We need to buy up the recharge zone or put conservations on it. We have 15,000 acres of preservation land, but we’re getting ready to put a highway across it. And it won’t even solve the Brodie [traffic] problems.”
Since I moved to Austin somewhat recently, I don’t have firsthand experience of the contention between the environmentalists and developers that characterized the formation of Circle C Ranch. After watching The Unforeseen, I feel like I am more up to speed on many of the details and frustrations both groups have gone through.
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