The Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan is a community-driven planning process to establish a guiding framework for the restoration and future development of Zilker Metropolitan Park. It is the first comprehensive planning initiative to encompass the park’s 350 acres and associated facilities.

Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan, image of parkspace with people on bikes

Background

Zilker Metropolitan Park, located 2100 Barton Springs Road, is Austin’s oldest metropolitan park and is named after Andrew Jackson Zilker who donated parcels of land to the city starting in 1917. The park is sited at the juncture of Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake and comprises more than 350 acres of publicly owned land. A major era of park development took place in the 1930s through New Deal programs such as the Civil Works Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1997, Zilker Metropolitan Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the park includes many resources of historical, architectural, and archeological significance.

Today, the park serves as a hub for many recreational activities and includes major facilities and amenities including Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin Nature and Science Center, Zilker Clubhouse, Girl Scout Lodge, Sunshine Camp, Zilker Hillside Theater, Zilker Caretaker Lodge, Umlauf Sculpture Gardens, McBeth Recreation Center, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, and Barton Creek Trail. The park is home to large-scale events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Trail of Lights, and ABC Kite Festival. 

Project Description

The primary goal of this planning project is to develop a visionary framework to guide the restoration and future development of Zilker Metropolitan Park and its numerous facilities and features through a robust public engagement process. The planning process will assess all aspects of the site with a comprehensive lens including but not limited to: programming, maintenance, environmental features and ecology, historical preservation and cultural resources, transportation, circulation, and parking, as well as business operations and management. The vision plan will be used as a roadmap for the park’s future by providing recommendations and implementation strategies that facilitate execution of phased improvements and development. The vision plan will help garner support and funding for future phases through public and private partnerships, operational strategies, revenue generation, and financial sustainability. See the Guiding Principles and Goals to understand how the project is moving forward.

Site Analysis and Needs Assessment

Guiding Principles and Goals

The draft guiding principles and goals below were a part of the survey following meeting #1. Click here (PDF) to view section from meeting presentation.

Nature and Ecology

The plan should treat the Park as an ecological treasure. Recognize the park’s relation to water and explore opportunities for interaction with the lake without compromising environmental integrity.

Goals:
  • Protect, enhance, and restore land and waterscapes.
  • Establish an interpretive program to educate visitors, especially youth, about the park’s sensitive features. Public stewardship should be developed as part of the interpretive program.
  • Champion best practices in green design, planning and land management.
  • Ensure safe and sustainable access to the water including entry to Lady Bird Lake and protection of Barton Creek.
  • Protect Zilker’s natural resources for generations to come.
  • Support and rehabilitate native plants and species.
History and Culture

The park is a metropolitan park which has a regional draw and focus. The plan should treat the Park’s historic and cultural resources as a valued legacy to be celebrated for future generations.

Goals:
  • Honor and respect the Park’s historic and cultural resources, and should integrate them into the future life of the park.
  • Provide a successful balance between historic preservation and current/future needs.
  • Tell the stories of the people and the history of the park to better enrich the visitor experience.
  • Create opportunities for local artists and art to be a part of park spaces. These opportunities may include music, performance, and temporary exhibits.
  • Celebrate the stories of the people that lived on the land throughout history, and bring to light those stories that are not often heard.
  • Establish and integrate education to convey cultural and historic aspects of the park.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Zilker Park should serve the entire community of Austin. The plan should align programs with community interest from all communities of Austin.

Goals:
  • The park should be welcoming to all individuals, small groups and able to accommodate large groups.
  • The Plan should support equitable access, with special focus on:
    • Safety
    • Accessibility
    • Diverse events and programming
    • Connectivity
  • Support new and enhance existing learning opportunities within the park.
  • Encourage ethnic, cultural, and economic inclusion in the park.
Accessibility

The plan should knit the segmented pieces of the park together, ensuring a more accessible, safe and connected park– north and south sides of Barton Springs Road, north and south shores of Lady Bird Lake, east and west sides of Barton Creek, east and west sides of MoPac. The park is a place you can arrive to by multiple travel options.

Goals:
  • Ensure there are multiple safe, enjoyable, and convenient modes of transportation to access the park.
  • Improve non-automobile mode access to, from, and within the park, in support of the ambitious mode split and climate goals within Austin City policy (ASMP, Climate Action Plan).
  • Improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular circulation.
  • Examine the surrounding trail network.
  • Improve the wayfinding to and from different park destinations. 
  • Use transportation assets efficiently, so as to preserve park space for ecological and recreation systems.
  • Collaborate with partners such as CapMetro and TxDoT to explore improving transportation routes.
  • Achieve high level of ADA accessibility within the park.
Sustainability

The plan should champion sustainability best-practices for the Park. Zilker Park should serve as an example of sustainability, protecting and enhancing our natural spaces and assets.

Goals:
  • Implement adaptive management strategies to create a resilient landscape in the face of climate change and dynamic user needs.
  • As an urban park, Zilker should achieve balance between metropolitan use and ecological/environmental.
  • Balance revenue needs with operations and maintenance of the park.
  • Provide equitable opportunities for access to the park and the enjoyment of amenities. Explore public/private partnerships that extend the reach of the Parks Department to accommodate new opportunities.
  • Sustain the implementation and maintenance of the park and utilize the support of volunteers.

Anticipated Schedule

On August 27, 2020, Austin City Council authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to proceed with negotiations and execution of a contract with the staff-recommended consulting firm, Design Workshop, for the Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan. The planning process started in November 2020 with an official kick-off on February 1, 2021 and is anticipated to continue into 2023. View detailed schedule here (PDF, updated April 20, 2022).

Feb 2021 to Apr 2022: Project Kick-off, Small Group Discussions, Community Meeting 1, Pop-ups, Community Meeting 2, Pop-ups, Community Meeting 3, Small Groups, Community Meetings 4 and 5, Final Vision Plan

Remaining Anticipated Schedule

  • Fall 2022: Community Meeting #5 (final community meeting)
  • Fall 2022: Vision Plan Draft
  • Early 2023: Review, Boards, Commissions, City Council, Adopt Plan

Plan Concepts

As the project team reviews all of the community input received around the 3 plan concepts, you can still review each concept. Click on the image of concept to view a PDF of the concept. To view a PDF with each concept, view the Comparisons PDF here (22 MB).

Stitch Edges Regenerate
Zilker Outline with stitches across it Zilker Outline for regenerate plan concept Zilker Outline for regenerate plan concept

Community Engagement

As a regional park that draws people from all over the Austin area and beyond, the community engagement process continues to connect with community members throughout Austin and visitors to the park. The engagement process focuses efforts throughout the 10 City Council Districts of Austin, relying on digital engagement to ensure safety during the pandemic but also providing in-person opportunities in accordance with Austin Public Health guidelines. Community engagement began in November 2020 with the initial community survey. You can explore the community engagement plan here (PDF). The plan may be updated to address new opportunities.

Active Engagement Opportunities

Final Community Meeting: Anticipated Fall 2022

Community Meeting #4: Plan Concepts
February 15, 2022, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
RecordingPresentation (PDF, 28 MB) | Meeting Q&A (PDF) | Grabacion de junta
Previous Engagement Meetings and Surveys

Zilker Community Survey #1: View Survey Results (Survey closed June 4, 2021)

Zilker Park Vision Plan Community Meeting #1
Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 6 p.m. (131 attendees)

Community Survey #2 with Responses from Meeting: View Results (PDF, 14 MB)

Zilker Park Vision Plan Community Meeting #2
Tuesday, August 10, 2021, 6 p.m. (138 attendees)

Community Survey #3 (closed October 4, 2021): View Results (PDF) 

Community Meeting #3: Design Alternatives
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 6 p.m. (127 attendees)

Community Survey #4 (closed January 10, 2022): View Results

Community Meeting #4: Plan Concepts
February 15, 2022, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
RecordingPresentation (PDF, 28 MB) | Meeting Q&A (PDF) | Grabacion de junta

Community Survey #5 (closed April 11, 2022): View Results 

Full Data Sets from Previous Meetings and Surveys

The information provided below contains the full data sets with personally identifiable information redacted. Each file can be downloaded in .csv format. 

Pop-up Series #1: June 30 through August 8, 2021

As a metropolitan park that serves the entire city and region, it is important to make sure all parts of the city are informed about and can connect to the Zilker Park Vision Plan. These Pop-ups are a way that the project team can go to all 10 City Council Districts of Austin as well as Zilker Park and meet community members where they are. Each pop-up allowed community members to connect with project team members to get additional information and ask in-depth questions. The following pop-ups were scheduled as part of Pop-Up Series #1:

  • District 1: Givens Park: Saturday, July 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • District 2: Dittmar Pool: Sunday, July 18, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 3:Govalle Pool: Saturday, July 17, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 4: Bartholomew Pool: Sunday, July 11, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 5: Garrison Pool: Saturday, July 10, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 6: Northwest Family YMCA: Monday, July 19, 7 to 10 a.m.
  • District 7: Balcones Neighborhood Pool: Sunday, July 25, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 8: Southwest Family Y: Monday, July 26, 7 to 10 a.m.
  • District 9: Shipe Neighborhood Pool: Saturday, July 24, noon to 3 p.m.
  • District 10: Ramsey Neighborhood Park (D10): Saturday, July 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m
  • Zilker Park: Barton Springs Pool: Friday, July 16, 4 to 7 p.m.

In addition, PARD hosted several other opportunities by connecting to community members at additional events. These pop-ups included:

Date District Location Date
7/27/2021 8 Zilker Park Great Lawn 7/27/2021
7/27/2021 3 Pan American Park 7/27/2021
7/28/2021 8 Zilker Park Great Lawn 7/28/2021
8/1/2021 8 Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park 8/1/2021
8/6/2021 1 Mt. Zion Baptist Church 8/6/2021
8/7/2021 7 Beverly S. Sheffield Northwest District Park 8/7/2021
8/7/2021 3 Oak Springs School Park 8/7/2021
8/8/2021 9 Republic Square 8/8/2021
Zilker Park Community Ambassadors: July through September 2021

From July through September 2021, two PARD Community Ambassadors were selected to partner with community members to prioritize the advancement of racial equity in Zilker Park planning. The Ambassadors were trained in community engagement practices, history of Austin, and organizing and engaging community around the Zilker Park Vision Plan.

Ambassadors were tasked with meaningfully engaging with the following special stakeholders:

  • Black, Indigenous, people of color
  • Youth
  • LGBTQIA+ communities
  • Immigrant, migrant, and/or refugee communities
  • Union workers
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income communities
  • People experiencing homelessness

Each Ambassador met with at least 10 community members to have significant conversations around the following themes:

  • Do you go to Zilker? Why or why not?
  • What events or programming would draw you to Zilker?
  • How do we plan for a future Zilker Park that is more inclusive for people who have been traditionally left out?

View the combined final reports here (PDF).

PARD Outreach and Pop-ups: August 10 through October 4, 2021

Following Community Meeting #2, PARD continued to reach out to community members to promote the Zilker Park Vision Plan and Community Survey #3, especially to underrepresented community members. Additional outreach and pop-ups included the following:

Date District Location
8/16/2021 7 Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
8/23/2021 8 Zilker Park
8/24/2021 4 Chinatown Center
8/24/2021 1 East Communities YMCA
8/25/2021 9 UT Austin
8/26/2021 4 North Lamar, Silkcut China town
8/26/2021 9 ESB-MACC
8/26/2021 1 Heritage Pointe Apartments
8/26/2021 1 Eastside Early College Prep High School
8/27/2021 1 Carver Museum and Cultural Center
8/30/2021 3 Roy G. Guerrero Metropolitan Park
8/31/2021 4 Gus Garcia Recreation Center
9/1/2021 8 Zilker Park
9/2/2021 7 Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
9/3/2021 8 Zilker Park
9/4/2021 9 Hoover's Restaurant on Manor Road
9/7/2021 1 Copperfield Neighborhood Park
9/8/2021 8 Zilker Park
9/8/2021 1 East Communities YMCA
9/8/2021 1 St. James Baptist Church
9/8/2021 1 Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church
9/7/2021 1 Givens District Park
9/8/2021 2 Dittmar Recreation Center
9/8/2021 1 Givens District Park
9/9/2021 2 Dove Springs Recreation Center
9/10/2021 1 Austin Urban League Office
9/10/2021 3 Montopolis Recreation Center
9/10/2021 1 Palomino Coffee
9/18/2021 1 AARC
9/21/2021 8 UT Austin
9/24/2021 8 Austin Zoo
9/25/2021 6 Springwoods Neighborhood Park
9/25/2021 3 Civitan Neighborhood Park
9/29/2021 3 Fiesta Gardens Degollado Pavilion
Pop-up Series #2: October 25, 2021 through January 9, 2022

As a metropolitan park that serves the entire city and region, it is important to make sure all parts of the city are informed about and can connect to the Zilker Park Vision Plan. The second round of Pop-ups continued to reach out to all 10 City Council Districts of Austin as well as Zilker Park and meet community members where they are. Each pop-up allowed community members to connect with project team members to get additional information and ask in-depth questions. The following pop-ups were scheduled as part of Pop-Up Series #2:

Zilker Park: Outside Barton Springs Pool north entrance, near Zilker Cafe: Monday, October 25, 4 p.m.

  • District 1: Austin Country Flea Market: Sunday, November 14, 10 a.m.
  • District 2: Dove Springs Recreation Center: Tuesday, October 26, 5 p.m.
  • District 3: South Austin Recreation Center: Friday, November 19, 5 p.m.
  • District 4: COA/North Austin YMCA: Saturday, October 30, 10 a.m.
  • District 5: Manchaca Road Branch, Austin Public Library: Saturday, November 13, Noon
  • District 6: H Mart: Sunday, November 7, Noon
  • District 7: North Village Branch, Austin Public Library: Friday, November 5, 3 p.m.
  • District 8: Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park: Saturday, November 13, 9 a.m.
  • District 9: Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center: Monday, November 1, 5 p.m.
  • District 10: Old Quarry Branch, Austin Public Library: Monday, November 15, 3 p.m.
  • Zilker Park: Zilker Holiday Tree: Sunday, November 28, 6 p.m.

In addition, PARD continues to provide other opportunities by connecting to community members at additional events. The following additional in-person outreach and pop-ups have taken place:

Date District Location Event
11/17/2021 4 Gus Garcia Recreation Center EMS Resource Fair
11/17/2021 1 Turner-Roberts Recreation Center Open House Meeting
11/18/2021 1 Turner-Roberts Recreation Center Open House Meeting
11/20/2021 1 Eastlink Trail: Boggy Creek Trail Pillars on Eastlink Trail 
12/4/2021 3 Krieg Field LGBTQIA+ Resource Fair
12/10/2021 3 Fiesta Gardens Degollado Pavilion PARD Staff Luncheon
12/12/2021 9 Republic Square Holiday Market with Downtown Alliance & Frida Friday
12/14/2021 9 Meadowbrook Apartments (HACA) Residents Council Meeting
12/14/2021 3 Bouldin Oaks (HACA) Residents Council Meeting
12/15/2021 9 ESB-MACC Ballet Folklorico Posada
12/15/2021 1 AARC AARC Symphony
12/16/2021 7 Northwest Recreation Center Teen Afterschool Program
12/18/2021 3 Pan-American "A.B. Cantu" Recreation Center Holiday Drive-Through
12/29/2021 8 Zilker Park Playscape and Hike-and-Bike Trail  
12/29/2021 1 George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center Kwanzaa Celebration and Ujima Marketplace
Small Group Discussions: Round 1

Small Group Discussions are small-scale, focused conversations around particular topics or subjects. After the series of discussions are completed, the meeting recordings were posted below with links to YouTube. If information was provided in the meeting chat, that information has also been provided.

Small Group Discussion presentation (PDF)

  • PARD Operations: April 29, 2021, noon (view | chat)
  • Environment-Water Issues: May 3, 2021, noon (view)
  • Events (Large): May 3, 2021, noon (view)
  • Events (Small): May 4, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • Neighbors I: May 5, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • History-Culture-Tourism: May 6, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • Neighbors I: May 7, 2021, noon (view discussion)
  • Area Businesses and Concessionaires: May 10, 2021, noon (view)
  • Exploring Equity and Inclusion: May 10, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • Parkners and Nonprofits: May 11, 2021, noon (view | chat)
  • Higher Education Partners: May 12, 2021, noon (view)
  • Recreation: May 12, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • K-12 Schools and Youth Partners: May 13, 2021, 11:30 a.m. (view | chat)
  • Circulation-Connectivity-Transportation: May 14, 2021 noon (view | chat)
  • Neighbors II: May 18, 2021, 5 p.m. (view)
  • Exploring Equity and Inclusion 2: May 27, 2021 noon (view | chat)
  • Texas School for the Deaf: June 28, 2021, 3:30 p.m. (view)
Technical Advisory Group

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is comprised of City of Austin representatives from various departments who provide technical expertise on different elements and concerns in and around Zilker Metropolitan Park. The members of the TAG ensure their department's goals, policies, plans, and constraints are understood in relation to Zilker and are communicated with the project team. Meetings will be recorded and posted for review by community Members.

View TAG members (PDF, updated July 2021)

  • TAG Meeting #1, March 3, 2021 (view)
  • TAG Meeting #2, May 5, 2021 (view)
  • TAG Meeting #3, July 7, 2021 (view | chat)
  • TAG Meeting #4, August 18, 2021 (view | chat)
  • TAG Meeting #5, October 27, 2021 (view recording)
  • TAG Meeting #6, February 23, 2022 (view | chat)
Additional Meetings and Information

In addition to the meetings above, the following meetings have been recorded and posted for full transparency to the community.

  • Meeting with Zilker Park partners, January 14, 2022 (view | chat)
  • Meeting with leaders of neighborhood associations near Zilker, February 11, 2022 (view | chat)
  • Meeting with Zilker Collective, March 24, 2022 (view)
  • Meeting with Black Women Who Kayak, March 30, 2022 (view)
  • Meeting with Boys and Girls Club of Austin, April 14, 2022
  • Meeting with RISE School, May 2, 2022 (view)
  • Eco Uplift Small Group Discussion 1, June 29, 2022 (view)
  • Eco Uplift Small Group Discussion 2, June 30, 2022 (view)

Meetings focused on Equity and Inclusion

  • Equity and Inclusion at Zilker, March 1, 2022 (notes, PDF)
  • Interpreting the Park through an Equity Lens, March 23, 2022 (view)

Interviews about Zilker Park Vision Plan

  • KAZI Interview, March 23, 2022 (listen)
  • Austin Parks Foundation Podcast
    • Part 1, December 14, 2021 (listen)
    • Part 2, April 8, 2022 (listen)

Parks and Recreation Board Zilker Park Vision Plan Working Group

A working group has been established by the Parks and Recreation Board. Below are recordings of meetings as they occur.

Funding and Resources

Funding for this planning process is a result of the 2012 General Obligation Bond that was approved by City of Austin voters in November 2012.

Consultant Team

The Design Workshop, Inc. was selected as the prime consultant for the Zilker Park Vision Plan.

Contact Information

For more information, email the Zilker Vision project team or call (512) 974-9458.

Zilker Park Gate welcoming visitors on Barton Springs Road