The once-crumbling retaining wall on the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike Trail north of Gaston Avenue now stands erect once more, thanks to the efforts of Pease Park Conservancy and the generous contributions of the Austin Parks Foundation and many local residents. Built one summer in the early 1960s under the supervision of the remarkable Janet Fish, the wall had deteriorated badly over the years as a result of flooding and human neglect. Now, new stones from Shoal Creek replace the missing or broken ones and the inclusion of rebar supports the structure to withstand the next fifty years and more.
“The retaining wall underwent an amazing transformation over the course of August,” said Andy Gill, the Conservancy’s executive director. “I think Janet Fish would be extremely pleased by its fresh and renewed appearance. And undoubtedly, she also would be thrilled to know her wonderful legacy is being preserved.”
Having hired a stonemason to construct the wall, Fish hand-carried heavy bags of dry cement to the site and helped select the Shoal Creek limestone used to construct the edifice, all during the hot summer months. This unflaggingly energetic woman also took a hands-on approach in the clearing of brush and trees to make a path for the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike Trail, a recreational amenity she doggedly pursued for years at City Hall before successfully convincing the Austin City Council to undertake the project. Not surprisingly, Fish insisted on leading the way for the bulldozer grading the area to chart the course of the new trail.
With the restoration project now completed, the Conservancy will now focus on creating a pleasant hillside area beyond the wall for greenbelt patrons. It plans to plant new native trees to shade this area, where invasive bamboo once grew. Contributions for funding either the facelift of the Janet Fish retaining wall or this greenery project can be made to “Pease Park Conservancy” and mailed to P.O. Box 50065, Austin, Texas 78763.