AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Zilker Park Vision Plan is one step closer to being adopted after clearing the Austin Parks Board Monday night. It wasn’t without pushback from the public.
At least 160 people signed up to speak to the board — many against the vision plan. Additional speakers signed up in-person and online late in the day. Public comment took four hours and went late into the night Monday.
“Seventy percent of this plan is for totally unneeded new construction that only a few people are looking for,” one speaker said.
“If we don’t want the park to fall into neglect and despair it’s important that we have a plan to ensure another century of enjoyment,” another countered.
The vision plan is a guide, but doesn’t outline detailed design, construction plans or budgeting for the future of the park. The plan will head to Austin City Council this summer, according to city staff.
The plan includes three new parking garages, a land bridge over Barton Springs Road — connecting Barton Springs and Zilker Park — a “welcome plaza” and new hike and bike trails.
“There has been a long standing amount of time, over two years of time, that we have put towards trying to capture all the things that the city would like to see at Zilker Park,” said Austin Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley. She continued: “We need to have a plan for this park because of its enormous popularity and its enormous use.”
The parking garages were among the most widely discussed concerns brought forward by speakers Monday. City staff said the parking garages would provide the same number of parking spots but would take up less of the park. An amendment to remove the parking garages from the recommendation failed.
“By bringing that parking together we’re able to make more of the park without cars,” a city staff member working on the project explained.
The meeting also comes as social media rumors spread that Zilker Park was for sale. KXAN took those rumors to the City of Austin and other involved groups.
“Barton Springs Conservancy has publicly confirmed that we do not support converting Zilker Park into a year around commercial and private profit center for the national music industry, nor does Barton Springs Conservancy think the Zilker Park Vision plan would result in such an outcome,” the group wrote ahead of the meeting.