Pease Park Conservancy releases plans for park renovation

Francesca D'Annunzio

The Pease Park Conservancy, formerly Trees for Pease, is partnering with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc. to renovate Pease Park through the Kingsbury Commons project.

The goal of Kingsbury Commons project, which will occupy the southern region of the park, is to provide Austinites with more opportunities for play, fitness and activity while respecting the natural green space.

The plans for the section of the park off of Lamar Boulevard will include improvements to the natural landscape. As part of respecting the park as a natural green space, Pease Park Conservancy founder Richard Craig has promised not to plant any non-native or invasive species in the park.

In a statement, Pease Park Conservancy explained the plans for Lamar Boulevard include improvements to the plantings and natural landscape, likely including built-in meadows, wildflowers and substantial native flowering tree grove.

Craig said one of the reasons Pease Park is unique and deserves more attention from the city is its history.

“This is Austin’s oldest park if you don’t count the squares downtown,” Craig said. “It was given to the city by Governor Pease in 1875. (Prior to that), it was part of (Governor Pease’s family) plantation before and after the Civil War.”

Ixchel Granada, director of projects and programming at the Pease Park Conservancy, said the conservancy is focused on protecting the park, which the Kingsbury Commons project won’t interfere with.

“(The conservancy is) very sensitive to the role that parklands play in their ability to act as green infrastructure,” Granada said. “We have always seen the park as an oasis in the middle of the city. It will continue to be an example of how parks can be used and protected at the same time.”

The conservancy said one of its main goals is sustainability — not only in the environmental sense, but also economically. They created a $275,000 fund they continue to keep growing in order to maintain Pease Park even if the City of Austin has a budget crisis in the future.

Heath Riddles, CEO of the conservancy, said one of the most important aspects of the project is increasing accessibility to the east.

“We (will) make sure everyone east of Lamar understands that the park is welcoming and accessible to them and this construction project is an important step in that direction,” Riddles said.

The plans include creating a new entrance to the east and bus stop to enhance ease in park access through public transportation.

Riddles said the most critical component of the project is working towards a sustainable future for the park.

“Everything we’re building is about longevity,” Riddles said. “Ten years ago, the park was dying. (The park) was being loved to death. Fifty years from now, what will remain of this is the ecology if we do what we need to be doing and we do it right.”