Austin Parks and Rec Dept.

8:34 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Construction and Closures Ahead for Hike and Bike Trail

Hike and bike trail joggers will be detoured opposite Seaholm Power Plant downtown.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Two separate projects on Lady Bird Lake may temporarily get in the way of folks using part of the hike and bike trail.

The city is getting ready to begin work along the Shoal Creek peninsula near the Seaholm Power Plant. Construction begins soon, and is expected to last six months. Portions of the hike and bike trail near the peninsula and the parking lot west of Shoal Creek and South of Cesar Chavez will be closed and those using the trail will be detoured to Cesar Chavez.

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1:06 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

You Can't Smoke at ACL (Even Though the Burn Ban's Lifted)

Attendees gather in Zilker Park for the 2011 ACL Music Festival- when a smoking ban was loosely enforced.
KUT News

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has lifted the burn ban for all city parks. Department Director Sara Hensley cites recent rainfall and improving drought conditions for the change.

No more burn ban means grilling is now allowed in designated areas. Campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

The city reminds everyone that fires should never be left unattended and should be fully extinguished when not in use. The city says a source of water should also be kept nearby.

Naturally, you won't be able to grill or build a campfire at Zilker Park during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. But more importantly, you also won't be able to smoke there.

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8:21 am
Tue October 9, 2012

What's in a Name? How Money Could Change Austin Park Names

Could the names of city parks be for sale? Pease Park was named for the family that donated the land.
KUT News

The Austin City Council is considering changing a city code that relates to the naming or renaming of parks and park facilities this week.

Right now, the code states that parks can only be named after a person or a group that has made 'exceptional contributions' to the park system. In fact, the process is pretty simple: a person submits an application asking for a park facility to named or renamed and, after 90 days, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Board and the city council review all of the suggested names.

The proposed amendment would make it more difficult to change a park name based on community significance. It would require signatures from up to 75 percent of residents in the area of a park or park facility.

The amendment would also add a 'financial contribution component' to the process. No signatures would be required, but name changes could be awarded based on money or land donated to the city.

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10:52 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Two Less Spots, One More Park: Worldwide PARK(ing) Day in Austin

Two parking spots along Congress Avenue have been temporarily flipped into a "parklet."
Congress for the New Urbanism - Central Texas chapter

Finding a parking spot in downtown Austin can sometimes be a challenge. Today, for Worldwide PARK(ing) Day, there will be two fewer spaces – but supporters say the spaces’ transformation serves a greater purpose.

Two parking spaces on Congress Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, outside the Royal Blue Grocery, have been temporarily converted into a “parklet”— where, instead of parking, people are  invited to use the space as a park-like area to enjoy lunch, read a newspaper, or even just sit and chat.

The parklet conversion and local appreciation of Worldwide PARK(ing) Day is being overseen by the Central Texas chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, which seeks to promote smarter civic design. It notes that Worldwide PARK(ing) Day started in 2005, when a San Francisco design firm converted a single metered parking space into a temporary pocket park.

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AM Update: 8/29/12
8:52 am
Wed August 29, 2012

AM Update: AISD Budget Approved, Highway Patrol Museum Closed, Dog Park Talk Tonight

A fundraising organization that purported to help Texas state troopers and their families has been shuttered.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

A good — and groggy — morning to the 50,000 UT-Austin students returning to class today. Here’s some of Austin’s top overnight stories.

Austin School Board Approves 2012-13 Budget

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees approved a budget for the coming school year last night, including $14 million in raises for district employees.

The Austin American-Statesman has more details on the budget:

The district will keep its tax rate the same, at $1.242 per $100 of assessed value, with $1.079 for operations and 16.3 cents for debt. The owner of an average taxable value home, $244,534 after exemptions, would pay $3,037 annually, an increase of $7.

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4:10 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Hot, Dry Weather = Burn Bans, Severe Drought Conditions

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows portions of Central Texas have moved from moderate to severe drought.

Recent hot and dry weather has prompted several Central Texas counties to issue burn bans.

Travis, Williamson, Hays and Burnet Counties are all prohibiting outdoor burning.

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Parks and Recreation
2:35 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Wooldridge Park to Close for Eight Months, Displacing Homeless

Landscape improvements will close the downtown park - popular with Austin's homeless population - for months.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Wooldridge Square, a small park between the Travis County Courthouse and Austin's Central Library downtown, will be closed for eight months starting in June.

The city is also reaching out to a few homeless people who live in the park, and referring them to social services. Austin's Department of Health and Human Services is asking local homeless service organizations to post this flyer in their offices.

“I’m not happy about the closure, and I don’t know if it’s really worth the effort,” homeless man Bruce Kline told KUT News. He said he’s lived in the park for about two years and doesn’t want to live in a homeless shelter. “They’re supposed to have people come out and tell us where to go once the park closes, but they haven’t yet.” 

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Parks and Recreation
1:47 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

How Do Austin Parks Compare to the Rest of the Country?

In this detail of Austin's ParkScore map, orange and red represent neighborhoods in need of parkland.
Image courtesy

Austin’s “ParkScore” was announced today by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

What’s a ParkScore? The assessment looks at parks in the 40 largest U.S. cities, including Austin. The Trust for Public Land studies park systems from several different standpoints.

“The best possible score would be five park benches,” Peter Harnik, director of the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence, tells KUT News.

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9:48 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Deep Eddy Pool Reopens

Deep Eddy Pool before closing for renovations last April.
KUT News

Deep Eddy Pool is back open today — or at least part of it.

The deep end of Deep Eddy is open today. The shallow end opens up tomorrow at 10 a.m. The oldest swimming pool in Texas, Deep Eddy has been shut down since last year for a full round of renovations.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department says the pool bottom has been replaced and the west end now features a zero depth entry. Visitors will also notice new decks and new retaining walls with seating. 

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2:37 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Burn Ban Lifted in City Parks

Two people grilling in Zilker Park before the burn ban enacted last April
Photo by ramk13

The City of Austin has lifted a burn ban for all city parks. You can grill in designated areas, but campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

Victor Ovalle is with Austin Parks and Recreation. He says recent rainfall has improved drought conditions in the area, but s park-goers should still be careful.

“We’re asking the public to be very careful when they’re out," Ovalle said. "There’s still a lot of timber in the area, in our parks, and so we ask them not to leave their fires unattended, to keep a source of water nearby, and before leaving the site, making sure the fire is completely extinguished."

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10:32 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Should Austin Outsource the Trail of Lights?

The entrance to the Trail of Lights, photographed in 2006.
Photo courtesy

The Trail of Lights is an Austin tradition dating back decades – or was, until it went dark due to city budget cuts in 2009.

That may no longer be the case, as an item before the Austin City Council this week would see the RunTex Foundation – an arm of the local running store and marathon sponsor – bringing the Trail of Lights back to Zilker Park this holiday season.

Backup materials on the agenda item state:

[The Parks and Recreation Department] received an unsolicited proposal regarding the production of a 2012 Trail of Lights from the RunTex Foundation (RTF). RTF seeks to partner with the city to bring back the “traditional” Trail of Lights (TOL) Holiday Festival that will offer an 8-night, family-friendly lighted trail and entertainment at no cost to the citizens of Austin. Recognizing the need to generate funding for this event, RTF proposes to conduct a major fund raising campaign to reimburse the City of Austin for all direct costs associated with the production of this event.

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11:43 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Check Out Time for Austin Hostel? Not If Some Council Members Have Their Way

Hosteling International Austin's lease could either expire next year or be extended by a decade, depending on the City Council.
Photo courtesy

The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is seeking to reclaim the land on which Austin’s only hostel sits. But a contrary resolution before the Austin City Council this Thursday may extend the hostel's stay by a decade.  

Hosteling International Austin, located on South Lakeshore Boulevard off of Riverside Drive, backs onto the shores of Lady Bird Lake. As the hostel sits on parkland, PARD director Sara Hensley says her department can find a better use for the space. “We support the hostel and we believe that they are doing a great thing, but it does not meet a park purpose and it does not necessarily meet the need of our community,” she tells KUT News.

Hensley notes the agreement with the hostel was inked in 1988, and since then, “as you can imagine, a lot of things have changed. This is on prime parkland – right there where the mouth of the new [Lady Bird Lake] boardwalk will be built.”  

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parks and recreation
1:23 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Deep Eddy Pool Closing Until April

Photo by nikkorsnapper

It’s known as “the oldest swimming pool in Texas”, but people who like to take a winter dip won't be able to at Deep Eddy Pool.

That’s because Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is temporarily closing the municipal pool for renovations starting December 12. PARD expects to open Deep Eddy in late March or early April 2012, if all goes according to schedule.

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parks and recreation
12:22 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Trail of Lights Cancelled Again In 2011

The Trail of Lights back in its heyday in 2006.
Photo by satosphere

For the third year in a row, Austin's Trail of Lights won't happen this holiday season.

Organizers had set a fundraising milestone of $250,000 by today in order to reach the $1 million necessary to host what used to be an annual Austin tradition: a mile long trail through Zilker Park, surrounded with holiday light displays. But they didn’t meet that goal.

“It’s just deeply, deeply disappointing that we weren’t able to raise the revenue that we needed ahead of time,” said Amy Vercruysse with BrightBlue Marketing, the company that had been contracted by the city to organize the event.

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3:50 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Zilker Tree Lights Are Strung But Won't Turn On Till December

The Zilker Tree was strung today. It will not be switched on until December 4th, 2011.
Photo courtesy of maddcow

An Austin Energy tradition going on 45 years continued today as the power company hung Christmas lights around the park's moonlight tower. The Zilker Tree will not be lit, however, until December 4. 

Meanwhile, the Trail of Lights is back this year was cancelled again this year. Check out the story here.   

parks and recreation
1:33 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Limestone Boulders Could Save The Banks Of Shoal Creek

The City of Austin is still in the early design stages of a project to fix the eroding banks along Shoal Creek. KUT took a tour of the creek erosion in Pease Park this week with one of the city’s civil engineers.

“Probably 30 or 40 years ago, they used a lot of concrete or rock filled wire baskets, which also break down over time,” Morgan Byars with the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department said. “We’re trying to use more sustainable solutions that can last centuries.”

Check out the video above for an example of what he’s talking about.

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parks and recreation
4:01 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Waterloo Park to Close Until 2015

You can say goodbye to one of Austin’s largest downtown parks for a while. Waterloo Park is closing November 1, and won’t reopen until the fall of 2015.  It’s all for a construction project that will keep Waller Creek running at a constant level year ‘round.

The Waller Creek project is part of a plan to develop a San Antonio-style river walk downtown between I-35 and Red River Streets. You can learn more about that project by checking out the Waller Creek Master Plan.

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austin city limits
2:11 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

No Smoking at ACL Fest This Year

Watch out for cigarettes in those crowds. City officials are banning smoking during ACL fest this year.
Photo by karlnorling

ACL festival goers who like to enjoy live music with some drinks and cigarettes will have to leave their smokes at home this weekend. Smoking is banned in all city parks because of the drought, and that includes Zilker Park during Austin City Limits.

“There’s a high propensity for fire if there’s any kind of spark out there,” City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) spokesman Victor Ovalle told KUT News. “It’s critical that we continue this ban of smoking and the use of grills in our parks.”

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parks and recreation
12:41 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

Turner-Roberts Recreation Center to Close Until January

The Turner-Roberts Recreation Center is located on Colony Loop Drive in northeast Austin.
Photo by City of Austin

The Turner-Roberts Recreation Center in Northeast Austin will be shut from August 1 until early 2012 so the city can conduct a structural investigation on the 7,700 square foot facility.

Last year, the building experienced some “structural movement”, according to David Smythe-Macaulay, a project manager with the City of Austin’s Public Works Department.

“We brought in the architect and a forensic engineer to look into the cause of the movement,” Smythe-Macaulay said. “And hopefully come up with repairs and get those done.”

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2:12 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

This Just in From the "Splash Pad" Desk

Escaping the heat at the Liz Carpenter Splash Pad.
Photo by Nasha Lee KUT News

Lake Austin may be closed to boats and other water vehicles on July4th, but the City of Austin wants people to know that when it comes to "splash pads," it's got you covered.

Bartholomew Splash Pad is back in operation after repairs, and the Liz Carpenter fountain in Butler Park will be open on July 4th. That splash pad is normally closed on Mondays for maintenance.