Join Us Tuesday 6:00 p.m. for Zilker Park Vision Plan Virtual Meeting
The City of Austin is hosting the second virtual community meeting in the Zilker Park Vision Plan process next Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.. Go HERE to register to participate in the meeting.
You can read about the Zilker Park plan process, view the recordings of previous community and small group meetings, and read the baseline inventory of park resources and issue challenges HERE
The Tuesday community meeting is supposed to be focused on "programming" in Zilker Park. This encompasses events, like ACL, trail of lights, kite fest, etc, as well as summer camps, SOS's Barton Springs University Day (this year set for Sept. 21) and our BSU walking tours. However, the City will consider all comments on what you would like to see changed, restored, or kept the same; what works and what doesn't work.
Overall, SOS is asking that Zilker park be restored and managed to be more park and less amusement park.
Programming should focus on environmental, historic and cultural education. All programming, including major events and day-to-day operations should greatly increase non-car access to the park, and reduce car storage and car habitat within the park. In short, more park and less parking and pavement.
Commercialization of the park should be reduced, not increased, and alcohol should not be sold in the park except at permitted events. We should increase park rangers and volunteer park stewards to make Zilker safer and more welcoming to everyone.
Please consider including these points in your comments to the City.
SOS Alliance is working with park neighbors and others to develop more detailed recommendations for the future of Zilker Park. We are closely monitoring the public input that is being gathered, and we invite you to share your thoughts, either directly to us and/or through the City public input process.
We hope to see you Tuesday evening at the virtual meeting.
HELP SOS SAY "RESTORE ZILKER PARK"
Zilker Park, including Barton Springs, is one of the most iconic and special places in Austin. It helps define our city’s connection to nature. It offers us a centralized gathering place for our communities. And, it provides us a quick, temporary escape from the stresses of our day-to-day lives.
As Zilker Park has increased in popularity so too have challenges with the park's availability and accessibility for average Austinites. Conflicts have begun to emerge between competing park users, as corporate events like Austin City Limits have expanded their footprints and have shut down the park for longer periods of time. And, once grassy areas have been used illegally as overflow parking, degrading environmental quality and making these spaces unusable for recreational activity at all times during the year.
To put together a long-term comprehensive plan for the restoration and future use of Zilker Park, the City of Austin Parks Department recently launched the Zilker Park Vision Process. The Save Our Springs Alliance will be participating in this process to encourage the City to restore Zilker Park as a natural and recreational park, accessible to the general public at all times.
Parks across the entire City are facing tremendous pressure to further develop, commercialize, and privatize. This is not the future that we want for Zilker Park.
Here are some suggested points of emphasis that SOS will be advocating in this process:
City staff has indicated that the "conditional use permit," or CUP, that would allow sales of alcohol at the new version of the Barton Springs concession stand will not be heard by the Planning Commission until September. A majority of the Parks Board has indicated their opposition to the permit, and overwhelming public input has been aligned with SOS's opposition to alcohol sales next to the pool, playground, and Zilker train. Many thanks to everyone who has spoken up on this and please stay engaged with us until the final decision is made.
Major progress on the Blanco River in Blanco
Last week, the City of Blanco took some major steps towards responsible management of its wastewater. Specifically, the City Council voted to double their storage pond capacity, seek out customers who want to use treated wastewater for irrigation and other purposes, and authorize the Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force to explore One Water pathways for the city. These measures help ensure Blanco will not be in the position of having to dump their wastewater into the Blanco River now and in the future. The City Council did not withdraw its pending permit application to discharge wastewater into the Blanco River, but SOS and our allies in this effort, Protect Our Blanco and Wimberley Valley Watershed Assn., are hopeful the City Council will do that in the near future. Stay tuned.
Big win on the Blanco River in Kyle
Last week visiting senior Judge Margaret Mirabal reinstated a lawsuit by Save Our Springs Alliance against the City of Kyle challenging the City's approval of a 101 page development agreement covering over 3000 acres of land on the banks of the Blanco River allowing essentially carte blanche unregulated development of the land for up to 50 years. The development agreement was approved with almost zero notice to the public and with no time for Kyle City Council members to even read the agreement. If allowed to stand, the agreement also requires the City to heavily subsidize the development, including helping fund construction of a new bridge across the Blanco River. Judge Mirabal had previously granted the City's attorneys' request to dismiss the lawsuit; she reversed that earlier order in response to SOS's motion to reconsider the prior ruling.
There's still a long way to go, but we have a strong case that a City Council cannot under Texas law give away its regulatory powers to private landowners or bind future city councils to approve and subsidize whatever a landowner wants to build.