City, businesses working to return coolers to trail - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

City, businesses working to return coolers to trail

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City officials and business leaders are working on a deal to return the water coolers to the hike and bike trail. The coolers were removed while a question of permits is being resolved.

For about two decades RunTex coolers have provided water for visitors along the Hike and Bike trail.

"We spend a lot of money providing the services, it's really one of the ways our company gives back to the running community," said RunTex Owner Paul Carrozza.

However, that service has been put on hold. The City of Austin is requesting businesses like RunTex, Rogue Running and Lukes Locker get permits to provide drinking water on city parks.

For runners on the trail, its anything but good news.

"No one's forcing people to drink the water," said Patrick McGregor. "I don't understand why they need a permit to hand out water."

The city says the issue came up when other groups wanted to hand out products on the trail and then complained about RunTex, Rogue and Luke's being able to do so. It then took a different turn when questions were raised about safe water.

"How they go about sanitizing the jugs? Where they fill the water jugs up and how do they get them where they need to be? Do they have a secure mechanism to lock them down?" asked Sara Hensley, Austin Parks Department Director.

Hensley says that could be regulated by a permitting process, one that could cost businesses around $400/year.

"I will pay the permit fee through my department because we believe this is a great idea, we just want to make sure we're meeting city code," said Hensley.

The issue has even sparked an online petition that was signed by more than 2,000 supporters. It's asking city leaders to allow the coolers back on the trail.

"We've been doing this for over 20 years I guess it's part of the magic of Lady Bird Lake and the trail system," said Carrozza.

For now he says runners are welcome to run a bit farther to RunTex where his water coolers are still set up.

The city hopes to work with the businesses this month and have the water coolers out again by January.

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