Part of Zilker Park will remain closed until at least mid-August for a $2.5 million renovation to make the park greener.
"Zilker Park should look like it hasn't looked ever," said Victor Ovalle, a spokesman for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. "I mean, it's just beautiful."
The park north of Barton Springs Road has been closed for months by the renovation, which will initially will be paid for with city money. C3 Presents, which puts on the popular ACL Music Festival at the park every year, will repay the city the cost of the renovations over five years.
In 2005, the festival was marked by scorching temperatures and so much dust some partiers ended upseeking medicaltreatment for respiratory problems.
"We've experienced a lot of dust," Ovalle said. "This new turf will hold down a lot of the dust. It should make a healthier environment, especially if you're suffering from allergies like I do."
Forty-five acres of the park are beingsodded with new drought- and wear-resistantBermuda grass designed to withstand Austin's sweltering summer heat and the park's heavy use.
Ovalle says the new sod is so delicate it needs to be watered throughout the day for several days after it is planted.
"You will see us watering during the day because you can't afford to let the grass die during the day," he said.
As part of the renovation, a new pump has been installed to draw water directly from Lady Bird Lake. That means the park is not subject to the city's watering restrictions, which apply only to treated drinking water. The parks department estimates the city will save about $300,000 a year in watering costs because of the new irrigation system.
Ovalle says once the grasshasestablished root systems, the city will cut down its watering schedule.
The new system is connected to weather monitors at Camp Mabry, which should prevent the sprinklers from being using while it's raining. That system malfunctioned last Saturday, resulting in the sprinklers going during a heavy rainstorm.
The parks department says employees are working to fix that problem so the sprinklers are not in the rain.