Community meeting

Three options for Zilker Park vision plan presented at community meeting

The City of Austin presented three plans for Zilker Park at its fourth community meeting regarding the development of the Zilker Park Vision Plan, intended to guide the development of the 350-acre park for the next few decades.

The plans offered at the virtual meeting combine ideas from previous alternatives and community input, according to the city. Each of the three plans includes different solutions to the park’s problems, including different approaches to parking, ecological restoration, security, accessibility and transportation.

The three plans include rehabilitation of Barton Creek, provision of green stormwater infrastructure, ecological restoration, coordination of people and roads, and accessibility for people with disabilities. All three plans also include unique approaches to road connectivity and safety, including in-park bus routes with external connectivity to Austin’s larger bus system.

The plans weren’t presented as definitive options for the community to vote on, but rather as a way to make decisions for the future, said Claire Hempel, director of the consulting firm in charge of the effort. planning, Design Workshop.

“These plans have come to fruition after all the commitment we’ve made for over a year now,” Hempel said. “I would like to point out that [on] the concepts in the plan, we want your feedback on what elements you like or resonate with you about each of the concepts as they come together for the final plan.

The plans

The first plan featured is “Stitch”, with the most prominent features being the creation of a land bridge to make crossing Barton Creek safer and a semi-underground central parking lot with smaller parking near areas of remote interest to visitors.

Point:

  • Land bridge over Barton Springs Road
  • Creation of a sports complex at Rugby Field
  • Removal of vehicle traffic from Lou Neff Road
  • Disconnect Columbus Drive from William Barton Drive
  • Butler Landfill eco-upgrade with some surface parking lots
  • Construction of a pedestrian bridge at Toomey Road Extension
  • Modification of Barton Springs Road (2 lanes of traffic, no on-street parking)
  • Creation of an off-leash zone at Polo Field Lawn
  • Additional pedestrian/bicycle connections across Barton Creek
  • New Zilker Hillside Theater location (inside the Great Lawn area)
  • Realignment of Stratford Drive east of MoPac and closure of existing Stratford alignment to vehicular traffic

“Edges” is the second plan presented, comprising two car parks on the edge of the park and one located in the center. The idea of ​​the “Edges” plan is to decentralize traffic and encourage visitors to frequent the outer edges of the park, Hempel said. The plan includes a tunnel under Barton Springs Road for pedestrian travel and the creation of several play areas around the perimeter of the park.

Edges:

  • Construction of car parks on the outskirts of the park
  • Creation of a sports complex at Polo Field Lawn
  • Construction of a tunnel under Barton Springs Road for pedestrians and bicycles
  • Removal of vehicle traffic from Lou Neff Road
  • Removal of vehicular traffic from Andrew Zilker Road
  • Green enhancement of Butler Landfill adjacent to parking lot and Zilker Hillside Theater
  • Creation of a pedestrian bridge at the extension of Toomey Road
  • Modification of Barton Springs Road (two lanes of traffic, on-street parking)
  • Development of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Lady Bird Lake to connect to the Austin High School area
  • Creation of a natural playground and a trailhead on the west side of MoPac in the Zilker reserve
  • Establishment of an off-leash area near Azie Morton Road / southern part of Zilker Park
  • Creation of a playground in the southern zone of Zilker Park
  • Additional pedestrian/bicycle connections across Barton Creek
  • New Zilker Hillside Theater location (towards the Great Lawn area)
  • Realignment of Stratford Drive west of MoPac and closure of existing Stratford route

The third plan presented at the meeting is “Regenerate,” which includes the fewest changes of the three plans, Hempel said. The “Regenerate” plan focuses on repurposing the Keeper’s House and Quonset Hut as a visitor center and includes more organized and useful parking lots, rather than parking garages.

Regenerate:

  • Turn the Keeper’s Cottage and Quonset Hut into a visitor center
  • Create a boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake
  • Separates Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake
  • Lou Neff Point Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, relocates boathouse and wharf to east side of MoPac near Butler Landfill
  • Improvements to Barton Spring Road (one lane in each direction and on-street parking)
  • Stratford Road remains in its current alignment and open to automobile traffic
  • Butler Landfill Ecological Improvement (meadow with tree planting)
  • Reorganizes and expands surface parking lots
  • No parking garages
  • Azie Morton Road Improvements
  • Improves water access points at Barton Creek (outside of Barton Springs Pool)

Additional concepts were shown that can work in tandem with any of the three plans, Hempel said. These options include improving the trail connection with the Butler Hike and Bike Trail and improving the pedestrian bridge connecting the Polo Filed to the Botanical Gardens.

The Zilker Park Vision Plan

The vision plan is the first comprehensive effort to guide the restoration and future development of Zilker Metropolitan Park and includes recommendations and implementation strategies for improvements in areas such as maintenance, ecology, historical preservation, transportation and others.

In August 2020, the Austin City Council authorized the Department of Parks and Recreation to work with consulting firm Design Workshop to develop the Zilker Park Vision plan. The planning process officially began in February 2021 and has since prompted several community meetings, small group discussions and online surveys of park users.

Some facilities within the park premises are in the process of determining their own planning, such as the Barton Springs Pool area, the Botanical Gardens, and the Nature and Science Center. The type of plans and needs for these facilities made it impossible to include them in the larger, longer-term planning for Zilker Park due to the immediacy of some of their issues, Hempel said.

“While it would have been great to do it all together and go into that level of detail for those individual installations, it just didn’t happen that way,” Hempel said. “But, we have been in very close contact with all the different planning teams.”

A fifth community meeting is scheduled for June 2022 to discuss the implementation of the plan, but no exact date has been set. The final version of the vision plan is expected to be completed after this meeting, followed by review and possible adoption by city councils, commissions and council over the summer and through the end of 2022.

“We really hope you spend some time studying the plans, sharing your thoughts with us, and spreading the word about the investigation,” said Design Shop Manager Kurt Culbertson.

The complete presentation of the three vision plans is available on the the city websiteas well as ways for the community to share their experiences and opinions on the proposed plans.