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Old power house dominates EDC discussion

Marble Falls EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher

Marble Falls EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher presented conceptual designs for a planned boardwalk and improvements to the old power house structure on Lake Marble Falls during a Nov. 3 meeting. Both the boardwalk and the power house are in Phase 1B of the city’s parks development plan. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. directors discussed conceptual designs and details of Phase 1B of the city’s parks development plan during a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 3. Phase 1B includes creating a boardwalk leading from Lakeside Park to the old power house structure, which is owned by the EDC and sits on the east side of the lake just below Chili’s restaurant.

EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher presented the conceptual designs by Stantec, the engineering services company working on the project. Plans showed possible pathways for the boardwalk, which will lead pedestrians to the former power house structure. The walls of the structure may be opened up, allowing visitors to walk through and access industrial water features and lighting inside. 

Corporation directors discussed onsite vandalism, boardwalk safety, and whether the design should include a lighted sign reading “The Power House,” which would be mounted on the top of the structure. Directors went back and forth for more than a half-hour debating the sign’s details. 

“(The sign is) very similar to a more historic font, like on a cafe or something,” said EDC Director and Marble Falls Mayor Richard Westerman. “I shook my head the first time I looked at it, but it’s growing on me.”

“I’m on the fence about the sign, really,” Director John Packer said. Director Lindsey Plante agreed. 

“I don’t think (the sign) is the make-or-break, stop-or-go point,” Fletcher reminded directors. “We can decide on that later.” 

Directors also discussed paying homage to the structure’s history. The old power house has been standing since the late 1800s when it served a nearby textile mill. The power house went out of operation after the construction of Max Starcke Dam in the 1950s. The EDC now owns the structure.  

“There’s been some conversation about trying to preserve the historical nature of the structure and questioning whether (the sign) was appropriate to do,” Director Ryan Nash said. “I don’t think we ever really settled anything, but we started the conversation.” 

Westerman pointed out there are only three real options for the old structure. 

“With the power house, there’s three things we can do: Leave it alone, tear it down and lose a historical feature, or fix it,” he said. 

The purpose of the Nov. 3 discussion was to inform a structural assessment and forensic analysis of the site, which is scheduled for early next week, Fletcher said. 

Other parts of Phase 1B include extending walking trails throughout Lakeside Park, installing utility infrastructure for future park restrooms, and adding a babbling brook feature. Improvement and project costs will be covered by a portion of $8 million of sales tax revenue bonds sold by the EDC. The bonds were underwritten by FHN Financial Capital Markets with a 3.15 percent all-in true interest rate. The Marble Falls City Council approved the bond sale during an Oct. 19 meeting. 

The EDC plans to complete the design and preliminary engineering phases of Phase 1B by early 2022, following the timeline of the Marble Falls Hotel and Conference Center

2 thoughts on “Old power house dominates EDC discussion

  1. What is happening with the pump house behind aesthetics? Is going to be it a gathering place? A cafe? A lookout over the lake?

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