Outdoors in Austin
Big improvements unveiled for 9 beloved Austin trails and parks
Austin loves its parks, from big, 351-acre Zilker Park to tiny, .21-acre Palma Plaza Pocket Park and the 300 or so in between. As the city continues to grow, so does the demand for park spaces and experiences — and the with wear and tear on facilities.
Fortunately for park fans, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the city’s many park conservancies plan a number of improvements in 2019. Here are some highlights.
Alliance Children’s Garden
An addition to Butler Park, the two-acre Alliance Children’s Garden provides a variety of play, recreational, and educational experiences for visitors of all ages and abilities. Project funds come from a motor vehicle rental tax approved by Austin voters in 1998 for development of the Palmer Events Center . Construction on the garden is expected to begin in February with estimated completion in the fall.
Barton Creek Trailhead Restroom
This project constructs an ADA-compliant Barton Creek Trailhead restroom in Zilker Park near the west end of Barton Springs. Users of both the trail and nearby Hillside Theater agree this is a much-needed addition to the area, as the nearest facilities are currently inside the pool grounds. The project includes environmental enhancements to improve drainage and a water line and fire hydrant. Work should begin this summer with completion in early 2020.
Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
The Trail Foundation (TTF) and PARD have big plans in the coming years all along this Austin icon. This year, TTF invites community input for Holly Point project, just west of the decommissioned Holly Power Plant at Festival Beach. The project includes restoration of the shoreline, water access for canoes and kayaks, native plantings, decking, and picnic tables. Also planned is realignment of the trail along the waterfront, part of a larger trail realignment across the former power plant land. These improvements are contingent on final remediation of the power plant property and its transfer to PARD, which could happen in 2019.
TTF plans to break ground this summer on a new restroom at Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park at Festival Beach, with work expected to be complete by the end of the year. The design pays homage to the old restroom, with a pavilion-like covering echoing its tile roof.
Work also starts this year on TTF’s Brazos Bluff project, near the Four Seasons Austin. This steeply sloped area experiences erosion of the trail and shoreline when it rains, and the project addresses stormwater flows in an aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sensitive manner. It includes a deck area with benches for trail users to gather or rest. The project should be complete before the end of the year.
Govalle Neighborhood Pool
Improvements to Govalle Pool, a 60-year-old facility showing its age, include restroom facilities, a lap pool, activity pool or tot pool, deck space, shade structures, and an art component. The plain, rectangular pool at 5200 Bolm Rd. is part of Govalle Neighborhood Park, the beginning of the greater 7.3-mile Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Estimated opening date for the spiffed-up pool is June 1.
Pease Park Conservancy director Heath Riddles calls Pease the “people’s park,” a space in the heart of the city that connects Central Austin neighborhoods to the Shoal Creek greenbelt. The conservancy is working to make sure said people can continue to use and enjoy the park as Austin continues to grow, starting with an overhaul of 12-acre Kingsbury Commons, one of the park’s most active and used areas. The Conservancy awarded a contract to Ten Eyck Landscape Architects to create a design to address future population growth and increased usage while also opening up the space and making it more accessible to more people. Planning is underway and construction will begin in 2020.
Improvements planned for Shipe Pool in Hyde Park’s Shipe Park include rebuilding the pool and adding lap and activity areas along with a bathhouse, shade structures, deck space, restroom facilities, and an art component. The design integrates existing park amenities including an historic Texas dog-trot log cabin, art mural, and protected and heritage trees. Construction began in late 2018.
Shoal Creek Greenbelt
A master plan created by the Shoal Creek Conservancy envisions a continuous trail between downtown Austin and the Domain, with a raft of improvements and amenities. The stretch of this iconic trail and greenbelt from Pease Park to the Seaholmis first, with 2019 seeing installation of more trash cans and dog bag stations (which will definitely improve the visitor experience), additional signage (ditto), and safety improvements between Fifth and Sixth streets, including repair of walls and bank erosion.
Vietnam and Korean War Memorials and the Hostile Action in Beirut Memorial were removed from Waterloo Park early in construction of the Waller Creek Tunnel/Inlet Project. These memorials are headed to Veterans Park at the intersection of Atlanta Street and Veterans Drive, adjacent to the American Legion and the hike-and-bike trail bridge under MoPac. Improvements to the park provide for potential additional memorials and space for events such as dedications and holiday observances. Improvements are also underway to address accessibility. The work begins this summer and should be complete in early 2020.
Built between 1959-1960, and part of the Zilker National Register Historic District, Zilker Café is set to undergo complete rehabilitation including demolition of everything but the slab and masonry façade. Improvements include electrical, mechanical, and plumbing upgrades; a new roof configuration; and restored facades. The city’s Historic Landmark Commission approved exterior improvements and construction is scheduled to begin in February and be completed this fall.
In addition, as previously reported by CultureMap, improvements have already begun at Little Stacy Park. So, Austin, get ready to get outside and enjoy!