AUSTIN -- There were shouts of anger and frustration at a packed public input meeting Tuesday night. Dog owners are upset over the City of Austin’s plan to eliminate a section of the leash-free zone at Auditorium Shores.
The Austin Parks Department master plan will move the water access further west to a newly-constructed 3.2 acre leash-free zone right off the main trail.
Parks Project Coordinator Marty Stump said the leash-free zone on the events lawn is a problem for people on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
“The dogs are running north and south, in and out of the water, while trail users travel east and west," Stump said. "And cyclists, pedestrians, daily park users, families (are also) out for a walk on the trail. So there's a point of conflict there.”
However, many said the new dog park would be too small.
“I appreciate your efforts. The design looks beautiful. However, it looks more like it's made for Victorian women to lounge around than for dogs to use it,” said one woman at Tuesday’s meeting, resulting in a loud round of applause.
Others claimed the new dog park is too far from the parking lot near the South 1st Street Bridge.
“One of those serious concerns is the lack of handicap parking access to the park, which we have now,” said another concerned dog owner.
According to the parks department, those changes have been a part of the master plan since 2009.
“2009 through 2011, we had a number of public meetings, presentations to boards and commissions, so the ideas that are represented in the current plan to move ahead are evident in that planning process,” said Stump.
There wasn't enough funding for the changes until recently, when private company C3 donated more than $3 million.
“There were no conditions applied when that offer was made,” Stump said.
The Austin City Council is set to vote on the master plan in December. If approved, Stump tells KVUE they expect construction to begin in January of 2014, and be finished by spring of 2015.