AUSTIN (KXAN) - Keeping the parks in Austin beautiful has become increasingly difficult as budgets shrink.
Right now the Parks and Recreation Department is asking for more than $68 million for next year's budget. That's nearly $4 million more than the department's current budget.
But a drive around Emma Long park reveals why the department is asking for help.
As one park visitor put it, when you come into Emma Long Park you better hang on to your hat...not because of the wind, but because of the potholes.
"Everything's rocking back and forth including me and my hat," said park visitor Chrystal Holman. "So yea, it, it would be nice to have it fixed."
"I was driving and I had her beside me saying, 'watch the hole, watch the hole, you're going to fall in,'" Elizabeth Gorman said with a laugh.
Regulars say there's nothing funny abut seeing the park go downhill.
"I've noticed the upkeep, the utility area, electrical boxes knocked down not repaired, pot holes," said Robert Long. "(It) hasn't even been mowed here lately."
The parks director says she's aware of Emma Long's shortcomings and improvements are on the way, but cautions there's not a stack of cash sitting around to fix everything in the park.
"It's not like you're going to go out there and see a brand new park," said Sara Hensley, Director Parks and Recreation Austin. "We're just going to be able to bring it up a little bit and take care of it, work on the restroom facility and fix the road a bit."
And as tight budgets continue, a pothole here and there might be the new normal.
In Depth: Parks and Recreation
The Parks and Recreation Department staffs and maintains 275 parks that cover 20,000 acres, and 50 aquatic facilities, including Barton Springs Pool.
The department also oversees 172 playscapes throughout the city, among others things.
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