Today Austin Mayor Kirk Watson issued a strong statement opposing construction of parking garages and a large amphitheater in Zilker Park and supporting both rewilding of the park and retaining and strengthening city management of Zilker and all of our parks. Read Mayor Watson's statement here.
Also important, Mayor Watson put the $200 million-plus draft plan from the City's consultants in the context of having zero committed city funds for the plan and, at the same time, substantial needs for investing in other city parks.
Mayor Watson's clear and common sense statement didn't just happen. It grew from a groundswell of many thousands of Austinites speaking out against the massive construction and conversion of Zilker Park into an outdoor entertainment district called for by the city consultants' draft plan. Overwhelmingly, Austin residents want to save, restore, and rewild Zilker Park. Thank yous!!! go out to everyone who attended a meeting, wrote emails, called, or spoke directly to City Council, City board and commission members, and City staff over these last two years. Your voice matters.
But this is just the beginning. We need you to stay involved!!
Mayor Watson is just one vote out of eleven on the City Council. None of the other ten members have stated in writing where they stand on the proposed plan. The private for-profit and nonprofit groups are not going away. They are literally banking on finding six votes on city council in favor of the draft plan that would expand moneymaking in and private control over Zilker Park.
First, please take one minute to send a "thank you" to Mayor Watson by using this email tool that goes to all of the city council members. That way all of the other ten see how much support and appreciation there is for Mayor Watson's leadership on these issues.
Second, call or email your own City Council member (if you live inside the city). Ask them to make a public statement that they agree with Mayor Watson across the board. Find the contact information here.
Third, no matter where you live mark your calendar for the new date for the city council hearing on the Zilker Park Vision Plan; Thursday, August 31, 2023. Set aside the whole day and evening if you are able and plan to be with us at City Hall. Recruit your friends, family members, and neighbors to join you for a critical and exciting day of civic action.
Finally, stay tuned. There is still lots more information coming out about the draft plan and what we need to do to save Zilker Park, Barton Springs, and Austin from the dual threats of bottomless greed and a heating climate.