Austin Parks and Rec Dept.

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.

Photo by Simrat Sharma for KUT News

While City of Austin administrative offices and other municipal facilities will be closed on the national holiday, many recreational areas run by the city will still be open on the Fourth of July.

Here is a list of closures and open facilities.

Photo by C. Young

The city’s eleven existing off-leash dog parks are experiencing “heavy use”, according to Austin Parks and Recreation, a headache that leads to overcrowded parking lots and soil erosion. The city believes it can improve the situation by building at least two more off-leash dog parks in more suburban areas of the city.

Specifically, the possible locations are Yett Creek Park in north Austin near Parmer Ln. and Mabel Davis District Park in southeast Austin near I-35 and Ben White Blvd.

A new skateboard and BMX park will be official unveiled by the city on Thursday. The $1.7 million city facility, financed in the 2006 bond election, is located downtown at 1213 Shoal Creek Blvd near House Park Plaza. And in the northwest corner of the park a piece of art that serves as a ramp for skaters and BMXers.

View City of Austin Pools Proposed for Closure in a larger map

Six neighborhood pools could be closed by the City of Austin, as it looks for ways to reduce expenses in the face of a budget deficit as high as $28 million. Two more pools could be closed from September to April to save on water heating costs. The total estimated savings from the closures would be $405,626, according to the Parks and Recreation department.

The pools are Kennemer, Gillis, Civitan, Kealing, Reed, and Shipe. Balcones and Dick Nichols Pools would be closed from September to April.

Photo by Chris Jackson

A move by the City of Austin to cancel a free outdoor screening of Napoleon Dynamite earlier this month has incensed Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League. The Drafthouse sponsored the free screenings in Republic Square Park and used its equipment to display the movies.

“That kind of stuff drives me bananas,” League told KUT News. "I was furious about this."

Photo by PflugerPfotos

Are you that person in the office who has your coworkers constantly laughing – or more likely, groaning – over your attempts at humorous wordsmithing? You may be delighted to know about this group of like-minded people who won’t go after you with pitchforks for the one about the cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.

The O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships have been running for 33 years straight. It’s hard to believe their legs aren’t tired! Sorry. 

Photo by Alex Walton-Keeffe

Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of former President Lyndon Johnson who led the charge to create a hike and bike trail around a stretch of the Colorado River in Austin, took her inspiration from a stretch of the Thames Path in London, according to the wife of former Mayor Roy Butler.

Photo by Susan Rankin

A new sign that explains the history of the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail will be unveiled at 6 pm tonight as part of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of an amenity that has become one of Austin’s defining features.

It’s hard to tell by looking at it now, but the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail was not much more than tall grasses, trees, shrubs, and garbage forty years ago. In 1971, Austin City Council under then-Mayor Roy Butler created the Town Lake Beautification Project.

Photo by ~Dezz~

The current extreme drought has parched local parks so badly that the city is moving to ban grilling and cigarette smoking on all 16,000 acres of land in the Parks and Recreation system. That includes parks, playgrounds, city cemeteries, golf courses, and pretty much anything else you can find on this list.

Rendering provided by the Trail Foundation

The most popular entrance for the hike-and-bike trail at Lady Bird Lake is getting a makeover. The Johnson Creek Trailhead, underneath MoPac near Austin High School, will get a wider trail, more blocks of granite for stretching and sitting, several water fountains and a rainwater garden featuring native plants, the Trail Fo

Photo by Austin Parks and Recreation Department

If you like to watch movies al fresco, but don't have the coin for Austin's newest drive in theater, you can join families in Republic Square Park for free films over four weeks in the spring.

Films begin at dusk. Vendors will sell food. A temporary playground will be set up for kids. Your dog is welcome if it's on a leash.

Here are the dates and titles.

Image by KUT News

Austin's Parks and Recreation Department has decided that Bull Creek District Park will continue to be an on-leash facility for dogs.

A leash requirement was put in place on a trial basis last summer, after fecal contamination was discovered in Bull Creek.  After analyzing results, they concluded that the off-leash dog use was the most likely source of the contamination.

Image by KUT News

Austin is a long way from achieving a goal set in 2009 of having a park within walking distance of everyone in the city. Fifty-nine percent of inner city residents do not live near those kind of open space amenities, according to the city's Urban Parks Stakeholders Group (UPSG).

The UPSG made this presentation to the City of Austin's Planning Commission last week, and it included some stark comparisons.

Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Liz Carpenter Fountain in Butler Park will be closed for the next few months, as work begins on upgrading it.  The City of Austin is making more than a million dollars worth of improvements to the fountain's filtration system. 

Higher-than-expected use caused the system to shut down in the past, leading to potentially unhealthy levels of bacteria in the water.  Work is expected to be finish on the fountain by May.

Children splash in Liz Carpenter Fountain
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Liz Carpenter Fountain in Butler Park is a victim of its own success. Austin Parks and Recreation assistant director Kelly Snook says when the splash fountain was first installed three years ago, they never expected that 400 to 1,000 people a day would use it.

"We've had many, many more bathers than we anticipated. The existing filtration system, pump and all the equipment is simply not large enough to accommodate the capacity," Snook told KUT News.

Barton Springs Pool

Austin City Council granted a rare privilege today to an 82-year-old Austin woman: a lifetime pass to Barton Springs Pool.

Patty Curtis started swimming at the pool in 1975 when she was 46-years-old.