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North Austin park poised to be renamed Heron Hollow Pocket Park

Thursday, July 1, 2021 by Amy Smith

It took nearly two decades, but Payton Gin Pocket Park in North Austin is destined to be formally renamed Heron Hollow Pocket Park, a goal of the North Austin Civic Association and other stakeholders since the early 2000s.

The Parks and Recreation Board voted to recommend the new name at its June 22 meeting. Parks Director Kimberly McNeeley first brought the renaming proposal to the board at a previous meeting, but board members requested a fresh round of community engagement on the name change in consideration of Austin’s growth in the years since the original proposal.

Meanwhile, Board Member Rich DePalma drafted a resolution that included a brief history of this section of the onetime Austin suburb and the families that settled in the area of Payton Gin Road and North Lamar Boulevard. Farming was the primary trade and the Payton family ran a cotton gin operation.

It’s unclear why the parks department did not memorialize the new name in the early 2000s. According to the city’s website, City Council adopted the North Austin Civic Association neighborhood plan on June 29, 2000. The plan called for the creation of a pocket park, so NACA organized a contest and community engagement process to name the park, which resulted in Heron Hollow as the top choice. PARD’s records have long referred to the site as Payton Gin Pocket Park because of its location at 801 Payton Gin Road.

The more recent public outreach effort included an online survey and two community engagement meetings at the park. According to McNeeley, 85 percent of the respondents supported the name Heron Hollow Pocket Park, and there is funding in the current budget to change the signage to formally recognize the chosen name.

City Council is expected to consider the name change at its July 29 meeting.

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