AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, Austin City Council approved the dedication of nearly 100 acres of parkland in Onion Creek. The southeast Austin land was once a neighborhood destroyed by historic flooding in October of 2013.
“I felt like I was in the middle of a raging river, it was very scary,” former resident Lisa Lavedan recalled. “Water was just raging all around me.”
The flash flooding left Lavedan homeless.
“I figured I’d buy a van since I might be living in it for a while and little did I know five and a half years later I’d still be (living in it).”
The city spent millions to buy back homes and properties in Onion Creek to turn the neighborhood into a park to reduce the flood risk.
“It’s great for the animals, there’s a plethora of wildlife down here, I love it,” Lavedan said.
She has been in the area for decades and welcomes the new change but feels the bigger threat now isn’t the water. It’s illegal dumping. And she’s not the only one who has noticed the trash.
“I do see some old mattresses and old sofas that have been thrown on the side of the road here,” according to Dannielle Romero Vasquez, a regular visitor in the area.
Lavedan continues to live in her van in the neighborhood and said she will do her part to keep the new park clean.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said they need the public’s help. They’re asking people to contact Austin 311. The department manages over 20,000 acres of parkland and dumping is a challenge throughout the city’s park system. Parks and Recreation have partnered with the Austin Police Department for enforcement and run an annual Leave No Trace educational campaign.
Watershed Protection officials will hold a dedication ceremony on May 11 at 10 a.m.
Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza said, “With approval of this agenda item, we have the flexibility to use multiple funding sources so we can improve the area to eventually provide Southeast Austin with more recreational spaces to enjoy the outdoors and gather as a community.”