Council considers around-the-clock park access


by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 12 at 8:17 AM

AUSTIN -- Hot or cold, rain or shine, you'd be hard-pressed to find an Austin trail without more than a few feet on it.

"We love this trail," said Marie Catrett as she walked along the banks of Ladybird Lake. "There are memories all over the lake and it just feels like a second home for us."

It's a home, the city could make available to everyone all the time. Right now park rules say trail use is only allowed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. but a new plan offers access around the clock.

"If you're willing to come out here at that time of night then that's your prerogative," said Jennifer Ruiz. "Obviously I think there's some safety issues."

Addressing those safety concerns comes at a cost. Increased police patrols would be needed to keep the proposed Butler, Shoal Creek, and Johnson Creek Trails open 24/7. The pricetag, $3.1 million for the first year, $2.7 million after that.

"If you're going to do another bond issuance, it's probably not worth it in my opinion," said parkgoer Craig Delaney.

The plan's funding and specifics remain in early stages. As for trailgoers, their main concern is plain to see.

"Better lighting in a lot of spots would be nice," said Delaney. 

"If the city would put in more lights in around the trail it would be fantastic," Catrett said.

The city says bicycle and vehicle accidents make the need for night travel alternatives a serious one.

Austin City Council has instructed the Parks and Recreation department to examine what it would take to put the plan into effect. A presentation is planned for the council meeting on January 17th.


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