Sunday, May 21, 2023

Statement Regarding the Zilker Park Vision Plan from Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis and Council Members R. Alter, Qadri, Fuentes, and Velásquez

May 21, 2023

In recent weeks, Austin City Council offices have received an increase in constituent emails regarding the draft Zilker Park Vision Plan. The City’s Parks and Recreation Board is set to meet May 22 and will discuss and take possible action related to the draft plan. Clarifying the plan’s intent and its origins is an important step in addressing our community’s concerns while ensuring accurate information drives these conversations forward.
We want to emphasize all elements of the draft plan are still up for discussion, and additional community input will take place before the plan moves forward, especially before it is expected to come to City Council for a vote this summer. Whether or not the Vision Plan is approved, the ownership, management, daily operations, and maintenance of Zilker Park will remain with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The draft plan, in no way, sets out a path to privatization of this beloved public green space. It also does not call for any additional events in the parks, nor does it include corporate partnerships. Proposed transportation components in the draft plan are intended to ensure the park is accessible to those visiting Zilker Park from all parts of the City. As we continue to invest in sustainable transportation options, Austinites’ reliance on travel by car will diminish. Any proposal that would come at the expense of the park’s environmental protection would not have our support.
The beginnings of the Vision Plan initiative date back almost five years. A 2018 City Council resolution spurred the creation of the Zilker Park Working Group to study transportation improvements and parking challenges in and around Zilker Park. A final report from the Working Group was issued in June 2019 and included some topics on which the 38-member group did not reach full agreement. As a result, the Parks and Recreation Department then began a more holistic Vision Plan process, beyond just the scope of transportation and mobility and collecting feedback from all over Austin. The resulting draft plan presented today is a community-driven effort intended to serve as a guiding framework for the ecological restoration and future recreational uses of the park, and it is the first comprehensive planning initiative of the 351-acre park.
We thank our constituents for their active involvement and advocacy in our community and welcome their input as the draft phase of this plan continues. Zilker Park is and will remain a public space that serves all Austinites.

[*This press release was highlighted by dp in bold, red and blue.]