KVUE — The view of the downtown skyline is one of the best Austin has to offer. The splash pad is a hit with the kids and the lawn where dogs run free is a favorite for both pooch and owner. Which is why maintaining and planning for the future of Town Lake Metropolitan Park — which includes Auditorium Shores — is a big priority.
The Austin Parks Foundation hired Tur Partners, a consulting firm to study the park and come up with a 10- to 15-year plan to maximize the space.
On Monday, consultants presented recommendations to change the infrastructure. The Dougherty Arts Center is on contaminated soil and needs a new home. The firm suggests relocating it to between the Long Center and Palmer Events Center and turning that space into an above ground parking facility.
Another big change deals with Riverside Drive. There has been talk of closing the road to accommodate park goers, but a transportation study by the firm found that's just not feasible. The suggestion is to downgrade the street, or take some portions of it underground, and add walking bridges on top. The road would then provide access to an underground parking garage with 1,200 spaces. The downside is that the plan eliminates free parking on the street.
"We have to have a city park, a major park like this, that's available to everybody, not just the folks that can afford to pay $10 for parking," said Austinite Jeff Jack, one of the stakeholders who helped build the park.
He said the ideas are innovative, but he's concerned about the price tag. "If we do all of this infrastructure improvement, we've got to pay for it somewhere, and the voters were very clear when they voted for this park," Jack said.
Right now, the park is funded through the rental car tax. The consultants will talk about ways to fund the improvements at the next public meeting. Then the plan is to present the suggestions to the city council in October.
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