Zilker Vision Plan aims to enhance and restore Zilker park, community input needed

Any Austin resident, or even a frequent visitor, is familiar with Zilker Park and its recreational amenities. It's a natural centerpiece of the city that has been around since the early 1900s.

Sunny days at Zilker means fetch with your dog on the Great Lawn, swimming in the cold waters of Barton Springs Pool, watching a play at the Hillside Theatre and much more. 

The city is looking to make changes to the popular amenities and landmarks of the park- changes that aim to benefit the patrons it serves. 

The Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan is an Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) project aimed at developing a visionary framework to guide the restoration and future development of the park, according to the Zilker Vision website.

Gregory Montes is the PARD Project Manager for Zilker Vision. Montes says the main focus of the project right now is collecting input from the community.

"This vision is important because it's not done in a silo within our department with a consultant that we hired, it's been through a public outreach and engagement process that involves as many citizens as possible," Montes said.

Citizens that care for Zilker Park and want to share their thoughts have the opportunity to do just that. A community survey is available online until March 31 for Austin residents to write comments and share their opinions on elements from the recently proposed plan concepts.

Three different plan concepts are being presented and can be viewed in detail on the community survey website or the project website

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Plan Concept A: includes creation of a land bridge for safer crossing of Barton Springs Road, and more. (City of Austin)

Each plan concept has its own key takeaways including ecological changes, relocation of certain amenities, addition of parking garages and more. 

By utilizing the community survey, residents can pick and choose which elements they like from each concept plan, rather than having to choose which concept plan they like as a whole. PARD plans on taking each opinion into account, and creating a final plan that adheres to citizens desires. 

"It's about our team being responsible and striking that balance of what stakeholders desire, what they would like to see, what they feel might be missing in the park," Montes said. "And that future draft plan should be a reflection of that kind of collective vision from the entire community and those who choose to be involved."

After the survey ends on March 31, the next step is a final community meeting, followed by the final draft review and then finally, adoption of the plan. Montes says any construction that occurs will be to enhance or restore the park, but the scheduling of construction is not happening anytime soon.

The Zilker Vision team is looking to change the park, but without environmental compromise. 

"The team certainly recognizes the park as a very important kind of natural gem, if you will. We recognize that it has lots of natural resources that many people enjoy," Montes said. "Really, the overall goal is to protect, enhance and restore the park and in all of its natural resources for future generations."

For more information on the Zilker Vision Plan, visit the project website.

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