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Council moves to preserve downtown’s open spaces
Friday, June 6, 2008 by Austin Monitor
The City Council has taken the first step towards developing a plan for the parks, open spaces, and historic landmarks in downtown
Council Members are concerned that those locations are not being adequately utilized or marketed. They hope that by including a segment within the new Downtown Austin Plan, called the Downtown Open Spaces Plan, the city can convert under-utilized spaces into major downtown attractions.
“We really ought to put some effort behind a project to make this area even better, so people not only want to come here, they feel safe here, and there’s something to draw them to this area,” said Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley during a presentation in front of the Susanna Dickinson House.
While renovations will begin on the Susanna Dickinson House this summer, Dunkerley noted that many other downtown historic homes and buildings are in much worse condition. “They really present a not very safe impression to not only our residents, but visitors,” she told the Council during Thursday’s meeting. “So one of the things we’ll be requesting is a condition report…and teeing this up for the next bond election, some cost estimates on the renovation and restoration of those historic buildings.”
The Council also wants to look at the parks and open spaces within downtown. “A lot of tourists come to
There is a natural connection between those downtown parks and historic preservation, said Council Member Lee Leffingwell. “The four squares were part of the original plat of this city back in 1839,” he said. “They still survive today, and now we want them to thrive. The Downtown Plan process gives us a golden opportunity to re-invigorate Republic, Wooldridge,
Council Members would also like to see improved signage and markings of historical locations in downtown to assist visitors and residents. Dunkerley predicted that the cost of new signs, the renovation of historic homes, and a new plan for parks and open space could be offset by increased tourism downtown resulting from those improvements.
“What we’ve tried to do is look at how we can incorporate some of these plans into the current funding situation. I believe that both
The Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Parks Foundation, and the Heritage Society of Austin will be key partners in that effort. The Heritage Society is committing $100,000 to help restore another historic home in downtown
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