A longtime dream for residents of Austin’s Northwest Hills neighborhood has become a reality. Neighbors, donors, and officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, March 12, for a new children’s playground next to Murchison Pool.
The Loewy Family Playground is the first playground in Northwest Hills that’s not associated with Austin Independent School District. The Northwest Austin Civic Association steered the $325,000 project, with more than 150 local donors making contributions. Local philanthropists and neighborhood residents Phil and Adam Loewy chipped in $60,000.
In all, the civic association collected $140,000 for the playground. Other sources of funding included the Austin Parks Foundation’s ACL Music Festival grant program, the Austin Public Works Department’s Neighborhood Partnering Program, and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
The civic association’s Parks Committee had been seeking a site for a neighborhood playground for more than 15 years but ran into a big obstacle: Buying land was too costly. At a community meeting in 2016, a neighbor suggested putting the playground next to city-run Murchison Pool, which is at Hart Lane and North Hills Drive. That sparked the fundraising effort for the playground, which sits on land that the City of Austin already owned.
The fundraising campaign kicked off in 2017 and concluded in 2018. Construction of the playground started in October 2019.
“This was a location that lacked park amenities but had available space. So, adding a playground to Murchison Pool Park made the parkland usable year-round and added a much-needed amenity to the neighborhood,” says Rachel Matvy, senior public information specialist at the Parks and Recreation Department.
Matvy says the playground, which opened in February, now serves as a gathering place for the community.
“This Loewy Family Playground will help the residents in the Northwest Hills neighborhood enjoy a more healthy life, physically and mentally,” she says. “Playgrounds within walking distance are a vital piece of helping young children become active at an early age … . Play is valued, and it makes communities stronger.”
Among those on hand for the ribbon-cutting event were Adam Loewy; Stephannie Behrens, a member of the civic association’s Parks Committee; City Council Member Alison Alter; Kimberly McNeeley, director of the Parks and Recreation Department; Richard Mendoza, the city’s director of public works; and Colin Wallis, CEO of the Austin Parks Foundation.