A Parting Plan for Austin's Downtown Parks

Dunkerley pushes new plan to preserve Austin's open spaces

A Parting Plan for Austin's Downtown Parks
Photo by Roxanne Jo Mitchell

As a parting gift to Austin citizens, retiring Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley will place on the council agenda today (Thursday) a resolution to create a comprehensive Downtown Open Spaces Plan. It notes that the denser our urban core gets, the more precious and valuable its open spaces become. The resolution directs the city manager to find funding for the plan (possibly tapping the hotel occupancy tax), explore incorporating it into ROMA Austin's work on the Downtown Austin Plan, and assign staff to execute the finished product. If funded in the city's fiscal year 2008-09 budget, work could begin in October.

Austin's historic squares – Republic, Wool­dridge, and Brush – long have needed more funding and attention from the city. So have its Downtown waterways, Waller Creek and Shoal Creek, and the unrealized potential of their greenbelt trails. Working valiantly to fill the love-and-money gap have been the Down­town Austin Alliance and the Austin Parks Foundation, which expect to partner with the city on implementing the Open Spaces Plan. Also supportive are the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, Austin Con­ven­tion and Visitors Bureau, and Heritage Society of Austin.

A true civic embarrassment of wasted resources is Brush Square, a small green space at Fourth and Trinity that is little better than a vacant lot surrounded by high rises. (Walking past it during the Congress for the New Urbanism, CNU founder Andrés Duany pointed at Brush Square and asked, "What is that?" This reporter responded, "Um, it's a public space.") Recent attention on Brush Square precipitated the push for a comprehensive plan addressing all open spaces Downtown.

Dunkerley, of course, emphasizes the economic development and tourism industry benefits of park and trail improvements. The resolution notes, "The area around Brush Square is the hub of our tourism industry." It's also where Red Line rail commuters will disembark. The DAA notes: "There is a 20% positive impact on property values for properties facing a park. In addition, vital, attractive parks enhance the ability to attract companies (particularly those involving high numbers of knowledge workers, or the 'creative class')." The DAA recently contracted with Ginny San­ders Creative to expand Downtown parks programming to make them lively people places.

Dunkerley is handing the get-it-done baton to Council Member Sheryl Cole, who will pursue the Downtown Open Spaces Plan in tandem with her leadership role on the Waller Creek District.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Katherine Gregor
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Checking in on the Climate Protection Program's progress – or lack thereof

Aug. 6, 2010

Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Study predicts how climate change will affect Texas' future water needs

July 30, 2010

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Open Spaces Plan, Betty Dunkerley, Downtown Open Spaces Plan, Downtown Austin Plan, Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Parks Foundation, Brush Square

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle