Auditorium Shores will host only one more event, Fun Fun Fun Fest, until Feb. 2015 while the park undergoes renovations.
Terry Jungman, representative from the Austin Parks and Recreation department, said improvements to the park will include new drought-tolerant grass, a new irrigation system and a larger dog park area. He said they are necessary for Auditorium Shores to continue to sustain its high number of visitors.
“[If] you take a look at the health of the turf grass and the health of the trees, just the general landscape — it’s degrading, and it’s happening rather quickly,” Jungman said. “So it’s important that we step in and do these improvements to bring balance back to the park.”
Anne Palone, a landscape architecture graduate student who uses the park, said she thinks Auditorium Shores has the potential to be more than a dog park but needs improvements first.
“In my experience, Auditorium Shores is dominated by the dog park, which is great, but there’s almost no shade, the grass is dead and dry, and there’s nowhere to stop and enjoy the view of downtown Austin,” Palone said. “Usually it’s just a place that people on the Lady Bird Lake Trail are moving through, not stopping to spend time.”
Jungman said students will benefit from the renovated park because students make up a large part of the audience during concerts and festivals that take place there.
“It’s creating a renovated space that [students] can go out and enjoy, and it’s part of bringing in new students,” Jungman said. “It’s a new attraction for the city, and it’s something that has been deteriorating over the years. You’re going to have this fresh new space that should bring people in.”
City officials will close the middle lawn area of the park in the next two weeks in order to begin installing an irrigation system, a project which will last until November, Jungman said.
Once the irrigation system is finished, the next step will involve relocating the off-leash dog zone to an area next to the Lady Bird Lake shore — a project that will last from Nov. to July. During this time, a temporary off-leash region will be available in the middle section of the park.
Auditorium Shores’ running trail, which will be slightly realigned to make room for the dog park’s new location, is between the current dog park and the shore. This causes problems for both runners and dogs, said Bill Fraser, a representative for Friends of Austin Dog Parks.
“We have trail traffic moving east and west, and we have dogs moving north and south — all intersecting at a single common point in the park,” Fraser said. “By relocating the dog park to the west end of the park, we eliminate this dangerous intersection.”
The $3,500,000 project is funded entirely by C3 Presents, a music festival producer.
Correction: Because of a reporting error, a quote about the benefits to students was misattributed. Terry Jungman, Austin Parks and Recreation department representative, said the quote.