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Austin Parks and Recreation board approves Zilker Park Vision Plan after hearing from residents

The board heard from dozens of community members before making its decision.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is clearing the way for improvements to Zilker Park. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the PARD board voted to approve the Zilker Park Vision Plan, 7-3.

But before the board made its decision, it heard from dozens of community members. Some supported the plan, while others were against it.

The vision plan, first introduced in November 2022, includes more parking garages, pedestrian bridges and some changes to Barton Springs Road. It is designed to protect the greenspace and accommodate Austin's growing population – but some residents present at Monday night's board meeting said the plan needed heavy edits.

"The large construction projects that are being proposed are the most troublesome," one resident said. "I hear an underground parking garage in the middle of the park promises to be a fool's errand rather than take up valuable open space with a large theater on the great lawn. Why not refurbish the existing theater?"

Meanwhile, other residents spoke in favor of the plan, saying it preserves Zilker Park for generations to come.

"While some will always believe that any progressive action, expansion or evolution of Zilker Park will be the wrong decision, taking no action will cause further far more damage in the long term and will threaten the future prosperity of this great American park," another resident said.

Other proposed improvements to the park including putting a visitors center near Barton Springs Pool, installing playscapes and designating an area for recreational activities.

Several people also spoke Monday night about a rumor that the City of Austin is planning to privatize Zilker Park. The City clarified last week that it is not selling any part of the park to a private company, and the PARD will continue to keep control of it.

Now that the Zilker Vision Plan has been approved by the PARD board, it will go to the full Austin City Council for more discussion.

Boomtown is KVUE's series covering the explosive growth in Central Texas. For more Boomtown stories, head to KVUE.com/Boomtown.

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