AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Zilker Park Vision Plan is not moving forward, according to a newsletter written by Mayor Kirk Watson.
The post in the Watson Wire said the plan will not be on the agenda for the Austin City Council meeting Aug. 31 and that there is, “no plan to bring it before the Austin Mayor and Council in the future.”
The plan included three new parking garages, a land bridge over Barton Springs Road, a “welcome plaza” and new hike and bike trails.
Previously, Watson spoke with KXAN about his concerns with the plan.
“A lot of people and groups worked hard to do something big and positive for our community. And our city staffers have put a lot into this process, as well. I truly appreciate and respect their efforts,” the post read.
Watson wrote that his recommendation is to table the discussion for now.
“We could all benefit from a little time and perspective. And then, we can start working together on the recommendations in the plan that have consensus,” he wrote.
He pointed out that while there is disagreement over how to address parking issues, there is consensus on the goal of creating equal access to the park for all Austinites.
Austin City Council Member Ryan Alter, Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis and Council Member Zo Qadri released a joint statement against the plan Monday, as well.
“We know that the Zilker Park Vision Plan proposes many improvements that have community consensus, such as additional green space, shade trees, erosion control, and bathrooms. Other elements, however, seem to be flash points of irreconcilable differences. We know the challenges Zilker Park is facing will not go away on their own, but we do not see a path forward for the Zilker Vision Plan and therefore cannot support it,” the statement read.
Ultimately, Ellis said there were concerns with the plan.
“The biggest issues that I heard concern for were the amphitheater and who it serves and what the appropriate location would be,” Ellis said. “And what was going to happen with parking garages or other sorts of parking.”
Still, Ellis said there are challenges within the park that need to be addressed.
“We know we’re going to need more shade trees. We know there’s erosion. We need more bathrooms,” she said. “So there’s still going to be needs in the park. We’re just not going to be doing a comprehensive vision plan.”
Qadri said this is an opportunity to lower the temperature before future conversations down the road.
“Make sure that we have all these voices that we’ve been hearing from back at the table, and to truly have a collaborative effort and making sure that Zilker, which is a park for everyone, regardless of where you live, is as welcoming of a place as possible,” Qadri said.
Parks and Rec Board Chair response
Parks and Recreation Board Chairperson Pedro Villalobos said he’s disappointed with the decision.
“This vision plan was vetted and passed by the Parks and Recreation Board, the Design Commission and the Environmental Commission,” Villalobos said. “To just shelve the plan seems to me that it’s a disservice to the community and the City of Austin.”
He said the plan was intended to, “make Zilker Park accessible, more equitable, and make it sustainable for the long term future.”
Moving forward, he’d like to see some sort of action toward preserving the park in a way that benefits all Austinites.
“Make sure that everyone in Austin, whether you live in district two, whether you live in district 10, that you have access to this park, and that it’s not only meant for those that live around Zilker Park,” Villalobos said.
Alter supports the decision to not move forward with the plan but said the parts of it that had consensus can be discussed again in the future.
“What are those common goals that we share?” Alter said. “What can we do to rally around those common goals and make the needed improvements?”