Deadline approaching for public feedback on future of Austin’s parks

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department is offering an online survey to let the public weigh in on future plans for the city’s park system, but that survey closes at the end of the day Sunday, January 27. 

You can find the survey at this link or you can text “survey” to (512) 580-8850 to participate. The survey is interactive, it gives you choices about what types of activities you’d like to see as well as the ability to check the statistics on how other people voted and how they commented on issues such as electric scooters in parks. 

An email Tuesday from PARD said that more than 2,000 community members have filled out the survey and that when it is complete, the department will analyze the data and report the results. Those results will be processed over the next two or three months to build on the city’s Long Range Plan for parks through 2028. 

The city says that in 2018 Austin’s amount of Parkland per 1,000 residents fell to 20 acres per person as the population in the city grows. Back in 2014, there were 23 acres of parkland per person. By 2028, the city is hoping to boost the total amount of parkland to have 24 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.

Kim McKnight with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department explained that the city plans to make these leaps in adding parkland both through land banking — buying out land before population surges — and through creating smaller parks in pockets of already existing urban space. 

She said PARD drafts a long-range plan every 10 years to keep up with the shifting trends in parks around the city. McKnight noted that this new plan will extend to 2028, at which time Austin’s park system will be 100 years old. 

McKnight explained that PARD has seen more calls from community groups to make space for activities that are growing in popularity such as bike polo, pickleball and petanque. She hopes this survey highlights how much demand there is for those activities and what parts of the city are looking for them.

McKnight added that in addition to this survey, PARD will also be studying the demographics of who uses the parks alongside population data.  PARD will be conducting assessments of city parks through third-party consultants. 

Using all that information plus the survey results, the city plans to have another round of community meetings starting with a public planning summit in May. 

Already, McKnight knows there are certain topics this plan will cover. 

“They’re focused on bridging the gaps in our trail system,” she said. 

“There are certain parts of town that lack adequate parkland facilities,” she added

Many of the people at Pease Park on Tuesday who spoke with KXAN said they had traveled to the park from other parts of the city because they liked the amenities there better. 

Judah Hammer and his friends went to Pease Park to play basketball because many of the courts in North Austin where they were hanging out would have already filled up.

“There were definitely closer parks, but we know this park was good and the court was good,” he said. 

In his view, Pease Park is a “perfect park.”

“I think every single park should have a swing set and a basketball court,” he said.

Others at the park said they’d like to see a large dumpster moved or more space to take dogs off leash. 

“Probably another walking bridge across the creek a little further down,” suggested Bill Davidson who has lived in Austin for 62 years. 

He called Pease Park “a real jewel of the city of Austin,” and added he’d like to see the city protect it’s urban parks in the decades to come. 

Davidson said he was glad to hear PARD is looking to increase the amount of parkland per resident in the years to come. 

“Sounds like a good idea, as a matter of fact, Austin has historically been known as a city with a lot of open space for people to go around to enjoy,” he said. 

Davidson hasn’t filled out the survey yet, but he plans to. 
 

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