PARD recently installed its first nature play space in conjunction with a traditional playground replacement at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. Bond funding was earmarked for this site at the same time that a grant opportunity with the St. David’s Foundation was announced, allowing the Department to leverage resources and support the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative in the creation of the nature play installation.
Located in North Austin, this area of the city is categorized as nature deficient based on the City’s nature equity mapping tool. Utilizing nature-inspired design features, this shared playground space offers visitors the unique opportunity to access both traditional and nature playgrounds in one area so that they can become more familiar with the concept of nature play as it is a relatively new concept in Austin.
The Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative defines nature play as any type of play that involves the interaction with or use of objects that nature provides. As the first nature play space housed in a city park, the playground at Walnut Creek Metro Park provides an accessible playground for children of all ages and abilities in north Austin to explore their natural environment. The traditional design features a loop exploration path through a sensory garden, rubber safety surface with a variety of ground-level play opportunities, nature-inspired design, and the nature play space with the iconic Fairy Pavilion structure created by credit James Talbot, re-homed from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Fortlandia exhibit as its signature feature.
To activate these new features, PARD partnered with Earth Native Wilderness School to offer free monthly public programming events in the park. Targeting community members from surrounding nature-deficient neighborhoods, these programming days provided bilingual programs to connect residents to nature within their park. The features and programming activate the park with the City’s first ever nature play space, with the goal of increasing both the frequency of park visits and connection to nature.
The design, installation, and ongoing management and activation of this playground space involves a vast stakeholder list including: the Austin Parks and Recreation Planning, Development, and Maintenance Divisions, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Earth Native Wilderness School, Keep Walnut Creek Wild, and Cities Connecting Children to Nature. Funding for the playground revitalization came from the City of Austin’s Capital Improvement Program, the PARD general fund, and the St. David’s Foundation Parks with Purpose grant.
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Monday, February 28, 2022
Walnut Creek Park Playground
Saturday, February 26, 2022
City seeks community feedback on draft Vision Framework for Palm District Planning Initiative in support of a shared vision for growth
Community members can stay informed, share ideas, and provide feedback from the project SpeakUp Austin webpage
The City of Austin today released a draft Vision Framework for the Palm District Planning Initiative, a planning process to guide the future of one of downtown Austin’s most iconic and fastest-growing districts. Beginning today, community members may review the draft Vision Framework, watch a video summary, provide feedback through a survey, register to attend a virtual public presentation, continue to share input, and discover other ways to stay informed and engaged to help develop the final Palm District Small Area Plan.
Since Summer 2021, the Palm District planning process has engaged stakeholders to work toward developing a comprehensive and focused small area plan for an area of downtown Austin which includes many attractions and points of interest such as Waller Creek, Red River Cultural District, Palm School, Rainey Street, the Emma S. Barrientos - Mexican American Cultural Center, and the Convention Center.
Visit the Palm District Planning Project Page for more information: SpeakUpAustin.org/
“The [Palm] area is a dynamic gateway for visitors, a cultural touchstone for Austin's Mexican American community, and a window into Austin’s past,” said Housing and Planning Director, Rosie Truelove, Executive Lead for the project. “As Austin continues to rapidly evolve, our goal is to create a space where old memories are honored and new memories are made. We have a unique opportunity to responsibly and respectfully guide growth of such an iconic area for visitors and long-time Austinites alike.”
Through a continued partnership with district stakeholders and community members, the district’s future has the potential to:
- Build on existing plans, initiatives, and strengths;
- Create a safe place that is welcoming to all;
- Honor and celebrate history;
- Enhance educational and cultural assets;
- Provide equitable economic benefits and opportunity;
- Increase access to housing;
- Improve mobility and access; and
- Improve access to nature, enhance natural systems, and support a sustainable, resilient future.
Pre-Planning Phase - Fall 2019- Winter 2020
The project team researched the planning area in preparation of developing the plan.
Visioning Phase - Spring 2021 - Fall 2021
Community engagement activities begin. Community input is used to develop a draft vision and outline for the plan.
Active Planning - Summer 2021 – Spring 2022
Staff uses the draft vision and outline to develop several scenarios for the planning area.
Draft Review – Spring/Summer 2022
Staff develops the draft plan. The plan is made available for public review and comments.
Plan Adoption - Summer 2022
The Palm District Small Area Plan is finalized. During this time, staff reviews the plan with City of Austin Boards and Commissions, sets City Council Hearings, and seeks adoption and implementation of the plan from Council.
A key component of the project is community input. During the Visioning Stage, staff received feedback from stakeholders through a series of virtual meetings, surveys, focus groups, interviews, and interactive exercises—The results of which influenced the draft Vision Framework.
In the subsequent stages, staff will refine the draft Vision Framework based on continued community input and evaluate scenarios to develop the final Palm District Small Area Plan.
Additionally, the full project timeline (summarized above) is viewable from the SpeakUp Austin webpage under the "Project Timeline" section.
About the Project
On May 23, 2019, Austin City Council voted to approve Resolution No. 20190523-029. The resolution covered many topics within the Palm District, including the Palm School, Rainey Street, the Fifth Street Mexican American Heritage Corridor, the Convention Center expansion, and a district planning process.
The Palm District Planning Initiative builds on existing plans and ongoing initiatives and will include recommendations to support the development of a seamless, integrated, vibrant district with a unique sense of place grounded in its history.
About the Draft Vision Framework
The Draft Vision Framework presents a future vision for the Palm District based on input from the community. The draft Vision Framework identifies key desired outcomes under 4 major themes:
- Inclusive Growth. An Inclusive, Equitable, and Prosperous Palm District
- Culture. A Culturally Rich and Diverse Palm District
- Connections. A Well-Connected and Accessible Palm District
- Nature. An Ecologically Healthy Palm District
The Vision Framework will be used to guide detailed work to develop a plan for the area which would support each of these major themes.
Ways to Get Involved
Austinites can review the draft Vision Framework, learn what community members have said, and explore the Palm District study area in more detail. Additionally, interested persons may provide feedback on the draft Vision Framework by completing a feedback survey. Staff are available to provide clarity on any aspects of the plan, what the plan intends to accomplish, or where you might be able to learn more.
An upcoming engagement opportunity for Austinites to view a summary of the draft Vision Framework, and provide feedback, will be held on March 9, 2022. Interested persons are invited to register from the Palm District Planning SpeakUp Austin webpage.
For more information, visit the Palm District Planning SpeakUp Austin webpage or contact staff via email at PalmDistrictPlanning@
About Housing and Planning Department
The Housing and Planning Department provides resources related to planning, zoning, housing, and community development to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. Equitable, efficient, and comprehensive planning with displacement prevention as a prioritized focus is the Department’s core charge in delivering housing services to the community.
Entrepreneurs and innovators invited to compete in City of Austin’s [Re]Verse Pitch Competition
Competitors will select a material and over the course of several weeks, create a new product or service based on that material. Competition organizers will host online workshops and provide mentors throughout the competition. In May, up to four competitors (or teams of competitors) will be selected to become [Re]Verse Pitch Innovation Fellows. The Innovation Fellows will receive cash and in-kind prizes valued up to $16,500 each, participate in a three-part accelerator program, and more.
By connecting local businesses with entrepreneurs and innovators, [Re]Verse Pitch helps Austin’s business community reduce waste and keep valuable resources out of the landfill. The materials for this year’s competition include:
- Decorator fabric samples and fleece cuttings supplied by Austin Creative Reuse
- Small plastic boxes supplied by Austin Community College Bioscience Incubator and EQO
- ½ pint milk cartons supplied by KIPP Texas Public Schools
- Bulletproof vests supplied by Travis County
Competitors may select one or more of the materials listed above. Competitors are highly encouraged to attend the Opening Pitch Event to participate.
The Opening Pitch Event will be hosted online Monday, Feb. 28, 6-7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.
For more information about the [Re]Verse Pitch Competition and how to participate, visit reversepitch.org.
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin and Austin Young Chamber, with additional support from a wide variety of community partners.
About the Circular Economy Program
The City of Austin Circular Economy Program’s mission is to attract, retain, and grow businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in the zero waste industry in order to create well-paying local jobs, attract investment, and support the necessary infrastructure for a resilient circular economy in Central Texas. The program is a partnership between Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department.
About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary, and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City’s recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City’s roadmap to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at austinrecycles.com.
Austin Public Health announces changes to vaccine operations
eams shifting from static clinics to strengthen emphasis on Mobile Vaccine Program
As the pandemic response evolves, Austin Public Health (APH) is shifting vaccine operations to a focused outreach approach. Moving away from mass vaccination operations allows APH to return to its core mission: serving as a safety net provider.
The last APH vaccine clinic at Delco Activity Center is Friday, Feb. 25, and the last clinic at the Southeast Branch library is Saturday, Feb. 26. The vaccine clinics at Old Sims Elementary and Pfluger Hall remain open with their existing schedules.
APH teams will focus on the Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP), which offers COVID-19 vaccines at locations in otherwise hard-to-reach areas. Businesses, churches and other community groups can request MVP services through an online form.
“Vaccines continue to be a vital part of our effort in the fight against COVID-19, especially as variants arise,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “Getting up to date with your vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others. Our MVP will make those vaccines available to those who have had a hard time getting the vaccines they need.”
All APH vaccine clinics offer all three vaccines and their booster doses, no appointment, proof of residency or insurance is required.
“This is an exciting opportunity to expand our outreach to communities where vaccination rates could use a boost,” said Adrienne Sturrup, Director of Austin Public Health. “Our Mobile Vaccination Program will work to make getting a vaccine as easy as possible for these groups. We’ll come to you--to your church, your job, your community center. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this program.”
APH offers COVID-19 testing without appointment,
To help reserve our emergency rooms for medical emergencies, people who are asymptomatic or experiencing minor symptoms may inquire about testing options by calling 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905, or by visiting 211texas.org. Please don’t call 9-1-1 for testing
Austin Public Health and Travis County Partner with Community Organizations for COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics
Austin Public Health (APH) and Travis County are partnering with local community organizations to provide FREE COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the county for events from Feb. 25-28.
Clinics are open to all eligible individuals without registration or appointment and do not require identification, insurance, or proof of citizenship. All vaccinations are free. All APH sites offer Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, including t
Pediatric vaccinations for children 5-11 years of age are offered at four APH clinics. No appointment
Individuals attending these events should be weather- and traffic-aware. Remember to
To locate providers in your area with a supply of COVID-19 vaccines, go to Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov for Spanish), or text your zip code to 438829 (822862 for Spanish).
Friday, Feb. 25
African American Youth Harvest Foundation (CTAHI/Travis County)
Oddwood Brewery (APH)
La Mexicana Market – Rundberg (Travis County)
La Mexicana Market – Stassney (Travis County)
Poco Loco Supermercado – Cameron (Travis County)
Austin City Council Calls for Sobering Center Local Government Corporation Board of Directors Applications
The Austin City Council seeks applications from qualified individuals to serve on the eleven-member Sobering Center Local Government Corporation Board of Directors. The opening is to fill an unexpired term through December 31, 2023.
Applications will remain open until position has been filled.
The Sobering Center Local Government Corporation is incorporated to aid and to act on behalf of the City and the County to accomplish their governmental purpose; namely to staff, manage, and operate a sobriety center for the safe short-term treatment and management of persons under the influence of alcohol, and to provide those persons with information on and referrals to community-based outpatient services, for the purposes of preservation of law enforcement, judicial, and medical resources in the jurisdictional limits of the City and the County.
The City Council is looking for the following qualities in its Director to the Sobering Center Local Government Corporation:
- At least eighteen (18) years of age;
- A resident of both the City of Austin, Texas and Travis County, Texas
- Citizen of the State of Texas
- Individuals with relevant expertise in fields such as legal, medical, behavioral and mental health, public health, chemical dependency and addiction, as well as business, philanthropy, and fundraising
Interested applicants may complete a City of Austin Boards and Commissions application online at https://austintexas.granicus.
Applicants are also requested to submit a resume describing their qualifications and a Statement of Intent expressing why they wish to serve on the Sobering Center Local Government Corporation.
Resumes and Statements of Intent may be submitted with the application or via email to Stephanie Hall, Boards and Commissions Coordinator at email@example.com
Applications will be reviewed by the Austin City Council Public Health Committee.
Construction underway for new high-priority Fire/EMS station
The Austin Fire Department (AFD) and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) have their third, high-priority joint station underway in the Loop 360 and Davenport area in west Austin.
In 2018, the City Council voted to build five new stations around Austin in response to increased demand. A new station in Del Valle was completed in 2020, and another in southwest Austin opened in 2021.
Austin Public Works is managing the delivery of the station. Construction began in December 2021 and is expected to be completed in spring 2023. The station, known informally as the Loop 360/Davenport station, will be officially known as AFD Station #52 and ATCEMS Station #41 once complete. View photos of construction in progress.
Mayor Pro-Tem Alison Alter, who represents District 10 and the new home of this station, acknowledged the community's need for this new facility. She said, “I am pleased to see construction begin on the Loop 360/Davenport Fire and EMS station. This station will help improve response times in this area and better position our city to respond if a wildfire event occurs.”
Located at 4601 Westlake Drive, the station will provide quick access to Loop 360 – Capital of Texas Highway, and surrounding communities. AFD has an average response time goal of arriving on scene at an incident within eight minutes of receiving a 911 call, 90 percent of the time. Similarly, ATCEMS seeks to respond to its highest-priority calls in less than 10 minutes, 90 percent of the time. The new joint stations are helping the departments get closer to this goal to keep pace with the growth of the city.
“Making targeted investments in public safety resources like new stations for first responding agencies is a priority for the City of Austin,” said Rey Arellano, Assistant City Manager over Safety. “Improving how quickly Fire and EMS respond in the areas served by these five joint stations helps achieve our goal of being safe in our home, at work and in our community."
Station features include:
- Four bays for emergency vehicles
- 13,590 square feet of space
- Solar roof panels toward the goal of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification
- Training stair structure and gym for both Fire and EMS
“Austin is a premier city, and this is another example of keeping pace with growth by keeping our community safe," said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager over Mobility. "Public Works has been successfully leading the completion of these high-priority stations through effective collaboration with its partner departments. The quality of the two first completed stations demonstrates the success of this partnership.”
For more information on all of the joint, high-priority stations visit the project website.
Austin returns to Stage 4 of Risk-Based Guidelines
The Austin-Travis County community is shifting to Stage 4 of Austin-Travis County’s Risk-Based Guidelines. This change comes as key metrics show declining infections and an improved Community Transmission Rate (CTR), but health experts say we are not out of the woods and encourage everyone to keep up masking, social distancing and staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVID-19 omicron outbreak peaked in Jan. 2022. Among those who tested with Austin Public Health (APH), as many as 1 in 3 COVID-19 tests were positive. This spike led to widespread staffing shortages and an influx of infection among children.
“With omicron, we saw test numbers and positivity rates that surpassed our previous records during the pandemic. This surge posed a threat to our hospital systems and our community as a whole,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “It’s thanks to the many community members who got vaccinated, continue to wear masks and follow safe practices that our numbers are moving in the right direction.”
APH monitors several key indicators to determine staging. Key factors include the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions, positivity rate and CTR.
“We can’t simply make this virus go away because we are ready to get back to normal”, said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. “We need to stay the course and that means getting boosted. All of our clinics offer all three vaccines and subsequent boosters. Take some time out of your day to get up to date with your vaccine protection.”
Stage 4 recommendations include the following:
- Fully vaccinated and/or boosted individuals should wear masks when gathering with people outside of their household, traveling, dining and shopping.
- Partially or unvaccinated individuals and those who need their booster dose should wear masks, avoid gatherings with people outside of their household, only travel and shop if essential and choose takeaway/curbside options for dining. Get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.
“Because we have come together once again, worn our masks, and made smart choices as a community, we have slowed the spread of COVID-19,” said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. “But we must remain committed to keeping each other safe and healthy as we welcome visitors from across the world and enjoy the spring festival season.”
The Risk-Based Guidelines correlate with five distinct stages of risk for Austin-Travis County and are not changes to local rules or regulations for businesses; they are guidelines and recommendations for individual actions and behaviors based on levels of risk of exposure in the community. Everyone should continue to follow any additional requirements put in place by local businesses, venues and schools regardless of stage or an individual's vaccination status.
“Today’s announcement comes with cautious optimism. But, we still face a special risk with people about to arrive from all over for South by Southwest and the rodeo," said Mayor Steve Adler. "Let’s all get boosted and wear masks through these spring festival events. Doing this protects our city."
This week a laboratory confirmed Austin-Travis County’s first case of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron. Research indicates that the BA.2 subvariant is 39% more transmissible than omicron, however, getting vaccinated and boosted once eligible still offers the best protection from COVID-19 and its current variants.
APH vaccine and testing information
People can find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.
APH clinics offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing without appointment,
To help reserve our emergency rooms for medical emergencies, people who are asymptomatic or experiencing minor symptoms may inquire about testing options by calling 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905, or by visiting 211texas.org. Please don’t call 9-1-1 for testing
Austin Urban Trails Program Launches Online Open House for New Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge
The City of Austin is making progress on design plans for a brand-new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the eastern edge of Lady Bird Lake. Now it’s time for the public to weigh in on whether the project’s design is on track.
Austin Public Works’ New Longhorn Dam Bridge 30% Design Virtual Open House, launched today, reveals updated plans for the new bridge’s overall design and amenities. The open house focuses on three key project areas: the bridge and its plaza, a new underpass under Pleasant Valley Road, and parkland improvements near Canterbury Street.
The open house is available in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week through March 24, 2022. Surveys in English and Spanish
“I look forward to the improved park and trail access this project will bring for those of us living east of I-35.” said Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria, “Our residents need more places to walk and bike safely as Austin continues to grow, and I’m pleased to see this project progressing.”
Another new element of the New Longhorn Dam Bridge project: public art. Austin’s Art in Public Places program (AIPP) will gather community input on a vision for site-specific art for the project at a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. Meeting attendees will help define artwork inspiration and goals that will inform the artist selection process.
“This project presents a unique opportunity to create a new Austin landmark that will be enjoyed for generations to come,” Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca, who oversees the City’s Mobility Outcome, said. “It’s important to us to hear from the public at this point to ensure we’re on course to deliver the best project possible.”
Plans for a new, car-free crossing over the eastern side of Lady Bird Lake have been years in the making. A “wishbone" bridge design, connecting to the shore at three points, was overwhelmingly favored during a public input process held in 2019. The City published a Preliminary Engineering Report for the wishbone-shaped bridge in 2020. Later that year, Austin voters approved $15 million in funding for the bridge project as part of the 2020 Mobility Bond. Since then, Austin Public Works’ Urban Trails Program has led the project’s design phase.
Residents can learn more and subscribe for project updates at the project website: AustinTexas.gov/
El Programa de Senderos Urbanos de Austin lanza sesión en línea de puertas abiertas para un nuevo puente peatonal y ciclovía
Austin, TX - La Ciudad de Austin está avanzando con el diseño de los planos de un puente para peatones y bicicletas totalmente nuevo sobre el extremo este del lago Lady Bird. Ahora es el momento de que usted opine si el diseño del proyecto está bien encaminado.
La sesión virtual de puertas abiertas sobre el 30% del diseño del nuevo puente de la represa Longhorn de Obras Públicas de Austin, iniciada el día de hoy, revela planos actualizados para las instalaciones y diseño general del nuevo puente. La sesión de puertas abiertas se enfoca en tres áreas clave del proyecto: el puente y su plaza, un nuevo paso a desnivel debajo de Pleasant Valley Road y mejoras en las áreas verdes cerca de la calle Canterbury.
La sesión de puertas abiertas estará disponible en inglés y español las 24 horas del día, los siete días de la semana, hasta el 24 de marzo de 2022. Como parte de la sesión de puertas abiertas en línea, se incluyen encuestas en inglés y en español invitando a compartir opiniones sobre el diseño actualizado del puente.
“Espero con ansias el parque y el sendero de acceso mejorados que traerá este proyecto para los que vivimos al este de la I-35”, dijo el concejal Sabino “Pio” Renteria, “nuestros residentes necesitan más lugares donde caminar y montar bicicleta en forma segura a medida que Austin sigue creciendo, y me complace ver el avance de este proyecto”.
Otro elemento reciente del proyecto del nuevo puente de la represa Longhorn: arte público. El Programa de Arte en Lugares Públicos (AIPP, por sus siglas en inglés) de Austin recogerá comentarios de la comunidad para la visión sobre el arte específico para el lugar en una asamblea pública virtual el miércoles 9 de marzo a las 5:30 p.m. Los asistentes a la asamblea ayudarán a definir la inspiración y las metas de las obras de arte, lo que servirá de base para el proceso de selección del artista.
“Este proyecto presenta una oportunidad única para crear un nuevo hito de referencia en Austin, el cual será disfrutado por futuras generaciones”, dijo la administradora municipal asistente Gina Fiandaca, quien supervisa el resultado estratégico de movilidad de la ciudad. “Para nosotros es importante escuchar al público en este punto para asegurarnos de estar en camino a entregar el mejor proyecto posible”.
Los planos para un nuevo cruce libre de tránsito automovilístico sobre el lado este del lago Lady Bird ha estado en proceso durante años. Un diseño de puente en forma de espoleta, que se conecta con la orilla en tres puntos, recibió una arrolladora preferencia durante un proceso de comentarios públicos realizado en 2019. La Ciudad publicó un Informe preliminar de ingeniería sobre el puente en forma de espoleta en 2020. Posteriormente ese año, los votantes de Austin aprobaron $15 millones en financiamiento para el proyecto del puente como parte del Bono de Movilidad de 2020. Desde entonces, el Programa de Senderos Urbanos de Obras Públicas de Austin ha liderado la fase de diseño del proyecto.
Los residentes pueden obtener más información y suscribirse para recibir noticias sobre el proyecto en el sitio web del proyecto: AustinTexas.gov/
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