South Austin Park Was Intended to Be a Park

RECEIVED Wed., May 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I must take exception to Jeb Boyt's statement in his letter of May 6 [“Postmarks”] that South Austin Park was never intended as a neighborhood park. A little history is in order. The original permit from 1973 shows the South Austin Recreation Center was sited on 12 acres of land next to West Bouldin Creek. The city purchased the 11 acres next door in 1978 from the James Bouldin estate with emergency funding from a green belt acquisition fund. The current tennis facility was then built on that half of the park. The South Austin Tennis Center and the South Austin Recreation Center have coexisted within the South Austin Park since 1978.
    In 1986, then city agent Stuart Strong applied for a zoning change from SF3 to P for the entire 25.93 acres. The application clearly states the zoning change is for a park. Many long-term residents of the neighborhood remember celebrating that the land would now be a park and cared for by the city. Prior to the bond election of 1998, neighborhood meetings pushing the bond package were held. The proposal was sold to the neighborhood as improvements and renovation of the current site, not additional courts. The Chronicle's own Mike Clark-Madison noted the same in October of 1998.
    Our neighborhood streets are overburdened now. The additional traffic generated by tournaments and league play will aggravate existing conditions. The city's own traffic analysis conducted in March shows both Cumberland and South Fifth streets to be over recommended traffic capacity guidelines now.
    Tennis proponents claim more tennis courts are needed in the Austin area, but it is hard to understand the city's logic in expanding this facility. South Austin Park is our neighborhood's only park. The city should find another site to build a tennis tournament center and leave neighborhood parks alone.
Patty Sprinkle
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