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Some want more commitment from city, private funds for Waterloo Park
Friday, August 14, 2009 by Austin Monitor
The Waller Creek Citizens Advisory Committee is at the intersection of several major city efforts. Waller Creek is a significant part of the downtown master plan effort, which is ongoing and includes the downtown parks and open space plan. And the Waller Creek tunnel project – above and below ground — stands as one of the most significant efforts attempted by the city to jumpstart downtown development.
To this mix, add Sara Hensley, the new Parks Department director, who was not present last night but has put privatization and private money on the table more directly than her predecessors in
Siff expressed disappointment with city plans for
The picture of Waller Creek needs to be much larger, Siff said. Here is a department sitting on $2 million, thinking small when it should think large.
“I sincerely appreciate what you described today,” Siff said. “While it’s a vision, it’s a vision, to me, of five years, at best. It’s the five-year vision of a project during the tunnel inlet construction, rather than a vision of what’s best or what can be.”
What can be is a capital campaign, and while committee member George Cofer, executive director of the Hill Country Conservancy, refused to call for such a campaign given the current economy, it was obvious where the commission was headed. A capital drive might be premature, but it was necessary for
A private capital campaign is a tantalizing thought for
Last night, Park and Recreation Department officials presented what they considered to be the answer to the citizen committee’s concerns about
Parks officials talked about more logical entrances/exits, as well as the placement of restrooms and the addition of needed hardscape in areas used by vendors. That wasn’t enough for Siff, who said the city needed a longer range vision. That assessment was shared by a number of Siff’s colleagues.
It was a coalition of voices coming together to make the 10-acre Waterloo Park a destination downtown, one that Council Member Sheryl Cole’s office already has heard. Whether such an effort sticks still remains to be seen, although few locales in
Committee members urged greater involvement of local groups that use the park. If, for instance, a local race was willing to underwrite the upgrades of the park, more power to them. Solis and Engineer Gary Jackson noted that meetings with vendors were scheduled to discuss park plans.
Urban Officer Jim Robertson also was at last night’s meeting to discuss the upcoming downtown parks and open space plan. Robertson provided an overview of major urban park projects, noting that a true effort to create a park as an urban destination could cost between $20 and $600 million.
The high end – the $600 million – is the price tag tied to
A parks master plan for downtown is expected to go to the citizens in early October.
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