AUSTIN, Texas - In about a week work will begin repairing parts of Zilker Park that were damaged by a recent cycling racing. The concern voiced by members of a tree preservation group could help limit the use of the park for more special events.
A dark-muddy trail cuts through Zilker Park near the entrance to Barton Springs Pool. Zack Chrisman who sat down for lunch couldn't help but notice and wonder what scarred the landscape.
"You look around and say, yeah it looks like there was a lot of traffic through here, and not its muddy fortunately there's not too much going on here today, there's not a bunch of little school kids here on a picnic or anything like that getting their shoes muddy," said Christman.
The mud is the result of a rainy weekend, which pushed the finals for the USA Cycling National Championship into Monday. The dirt track and surrounding grounds of Zilker Park were chewed up by the nearly 2-thousand people who took part in the event. There was concern that impact from the bikes could damage tree roots and destroy important drainage areas. Parks department spokesperson Shelley Park told FOX7 repairs which could start by next by week will involve planting winter rye grass seed to prevent erosion and Bermuda see to provide long term growth.
"The good news is the park will not be closed during this time, there will not be any heavy equipment and it's basically resoding and aerating the yard and we are going to be doing a lot of work with the trees," said Park.
Most of the work will be paid for by USA Cycling that was part of the agreement which brought the race Austin. Just how much it will cost the event promoter to repair all the damage will not be known until the entire contract bids come in. Meanwhile, questions are being raised about whether or not the park is being over used.
The cycling race is one of only 3 special events scheduled for the park in 2015. The other two include the ACL Music Festival which is held in October and the traditional Trail of Lights which takes place in December. Its possible more events could schedule.
"We would like to say this is it, but we can't because you never know what's going to happen and I don't mean people asking us, because there are a lot of different dynamics that play in a decision like that, but as far as the Parks department is concerned, the only two events for the rest of the year that will close the park is going to be ACL, and the trail of lights," said Park.
That assessment doesn't include annual gatherings like the kite festival in March. Large crowds do come out, but it's classified as an event open to the public. Zack Christman is open to the idea of allowing more special events to held in Zilker Park but says not too many more.
"So I can really see both things and maybe if it did start to get to be too much, then yeah, I wouldn't want to see more than 4 maybe. But 2 or 3 right now I don't feel disaffected or displaced by it. And still really enjoy it."
Some past big events here at Zilker Park includes a visit by The Rolling Stones. The band played on the great lawn back in 2006. A spokesperson with the Austin Parks Foundation told me The Stones cut a $300,000 check to help make repairs and improvements in the park as well as in surrounding areas that were impacted.