Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Austin City Council to not move forward with Zilker Park Vision Plan

Julius Shieh
A toddler looks up at the sky as kites fly overhead at Zilker Park. Zilker’s Kite Festival was a popular attraction for individuals and families.

The Austin City Council will not vote on the proposal to renovate Zilker Park and will indefinitely table the plan because of a divided community response, Mayor Kirk Watson announced in a statement on Aug. 7. 

“We could all benefit from a little time and perspective,” Watson said in the statement. “And then, we can start working together on the recommendations in the plan that have consensus.” 

The Zilker Park Vision Plan has triggered opposition from some Austin residents since the City Council first proposed the plan in late 2020. Because of the lack of consensus, City Council members Ryan Alter, Paige Ellis and Zo Qadri released a joint statement the same day as Watson stating their mixed views on the plan. Prior to the announcement, the proposal was scheduled for a final vote on Aug. 31. 

“We know that the Zilker Park Vision Plan proposes many improvements that have community consensus, such as additional shade trees, erosion control and bathrooms,” the statement said. “Other elements, however, seem to be flash points of irreconcilable differences.” 

Watson and the council members were unavailable for comment. 

As part of its proposed framework, the Vision Plan included a series of changes including replacing surface parking with garages, adding a welcome center, constructing pedestrian and bike trails and opening a new amphitheater.

“We developed the vision plan because the growth in our community is placing critical stress on the park and its future,” said the Austin Parks and Recreation Department in an email statement. 

Ella Thompson, a linguistics senior and Austinite of 21 years, said too many people criticized the Vision Plan without doing proper research. She was disappointed to hear the plan fell through and said she appreciated the city’s proposed focus on improving Zilker’s accessibility, cleanliness and safety. 

“Most people I’ve talked to … they just hadn’t heard a ton about it except for the loudest people — the people who are avidly against this Vision Plan,” Thompson said. “If everyone could take a break and read what was actually going on, I think most people would agree with (it).”

Public relations junior Osman Moradel also said refurbishing Zilker requires a more nuanced conversation than some residents realize. However, he said it’s good politics for the City Council to draft a new approach because the community is so divided. 

“I think that shows that the City Council is taking it seriously and it’s not just something they want to push through, but it’s something they actually want to hear from their constituents (about),” Moradel said. 

Thompson and Moradel both said revamping Zilker should remain a priority for the City Council, and they’d like to see the city move forward with a new plan that mitigates concerns. 

“The public should think about what they want out of Zilker, and they should let their city council members know,” Thompson said. “Instead of calling (the) City Council and talking about inflammatory stuff, they should just talk about what their (personal) priorities (for Zilker) are.”

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Sarah Brager, General News Reporter
Sarah is a journalism junior from Buda, Texas. She's currently a senior news reporter, and she previously worked as a life and arts reporter and an opinion columnist. When she's not reporting for the Texan, Sarah loves hiking, drinking outrageous amounts of coffee and doing crossword puzzles.
Julius Shieh, Associate Photo Editor
Julius is a third year student from Avon, Connecticut, studying History. He currently serves as the Texan's Associate Photo Editor.