Austin considering parking meters for some city parks

Austin considering parking meters for some city parks

Austin considering parking meters for some city parks


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist Dathan Hull

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 10:21 PM

AUSTIN - Parking near the hike and bike trails during peak hours can be tight.

"There's not a whole lot of parking available," park user Sean Mecredy told KVUE News.

But parks and recreation officials say some of those spots aren't being used by park goers.
In fact at the Butler Shores softball fields, they claim most of the cars belong to nearby condo residents, construction workers, and restaurant customers.

"We took about three and a half weeks looking at the parking patterns starting as early as 7:30 in the morning, then at noon time and then after 5:00 [p.m.]," said Ricardo Soliz with the department.

That's one reason the city is looking at parking meters. Soliz says the plan could bring in an estimated $20,000 a year.

"That revenue could be used to improve the parking lots, landscaping and all of that," he explained.

"Parks should be looking for ways to more fully utilize this lot by park users," said Zilker Neighborhood Association President David King who is also a regular park user.

"Austin is less and less affordable, especially to the lower income families," King said. "This is one of the few things that's technically free and it's important to give people a place where they can go to recharge and get away from it. They don't have to worry about paying extra fees"

He says Austinites already pay their dues. "We've already paid for them through our taxes that we pay every year, city taxes that go for parks. Our bonds that we've paid for in years past, we're paying those off," King said.

King also worries, if approved, this could just be the beginning.

The department is doing a similar study on the parking lots at Deep Eddy, the Austin High boat ramp, the Seaholm Intake building, and Walsh Landing.

"It's pushing you out of the park. You have to go somewhere else," King said.

But Soliz says the department's goal is to reduce the impact on actual park users.

"If we had hours from say 8-4pm, how would that impact the users of the fields? The people coming to the park to get on the trail?" Soliz explained.

Still, those who frequent the lots say when parking can already be a headache, adding a cost to it isn't fair.

"If it's a public launch it should at least have some free parking available," Mecredy said.

The department will present the plan to board members Tuesday evening. They will vote on whether to endorse it or possibly revise the proposal. Then city council will have the final say.