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Missing our train

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Zilker Park patrons want their train back, but if the city goes through its usual process for selecting a new vendor, it could take a year before there’s a new train up and running. At least, that’s what Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley told Council at Tuesday’s work session. The Zilker Park master plan request for qualifications or proposals is not scheduled for release until the spring. What the city needs is a nonprofit that can step in and quickly help the city find someone to operate a train like the Zilker Zephyr, which is no longer available due to disagreement with the city. Council Member Paige Ellis and some of her colleagues have been talking to the Austin Parks Foundation to see whether it could help resolve the problem. In response to questions from Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, Ellis said she wanted to leave it up to the city manager to decide whether the parks foundation or a vendor that they would find would do the job. McNeeley told Council her department is on board with working with the foundation, which could operate the train and distribute the proceeds among the nonprofits that support Zilker Park.

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