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.

Engagement Opportunities

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, but not limited to, 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, and McBeth Recreation Center, the 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 Zilker Park 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.

Site Analysis and Needs Assessment

Guiding Principles and Goals

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

Guide Future Growth

The plan should be forward-looking and should embrace both its challenges and its opportunities for future generations.

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 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.
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.
Diversity and Inclusion
  • Zilker Park should serve the entire community of Austin.
  • Align programs with community interest.
Goals:
  • Welcoming to 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.
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.
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 2022. View detailed schedule here (PDF).

 

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

Community Engagement

As a regional park that draws people from all over the Austin area and beyond, the community engagement process will connect with community members throughout Austin. Visitors who come to Zilker from outside Austin can also provide input. The engagement process will focus efforts throughout the 10 City Council Districts of Austin, relying on digital engagement to ensure safety during the pandemic. 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.

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

Community Survey #2 - Encuesta Comunitaria #2 (en español)

  • Open through July 31
  • Abierta hasta el 31 de julio

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

Zilker Park Vision Plan Pop-Up Series #1

  • Givens Park (D1): Saturday, July 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Garrison Pool (D5): Saturday, July 10, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Bartholomew Pool (D4): Sunday, July 11, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Zilker Park - Barton Springs Pool: Friday, July 16, 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Govalle Pool (D3): Saturday, July 17, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Dittmar Pool (D2): Sunday, July 18, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Northwest Family YMCA (D6): Monday, July 19, 7 to 10 a.m.
  • Shipe Neighborhood Pool (D9): Saturday, July 24, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Balcones Neighborhood Pool (D7): Sunday, July 25, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Southwest Family Y (D8): Monday, July 26, 7 to 10 a.m.
  • Ramsey Neighborhood Park (D10): Saturday, July 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m

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

Small Group Discussions

Small Group Discussions are small-scale, focused conversations around particular topics or subjects. After the series of discussions are completed, all meeting recordings will be posted. The following small groups discussions occurred or will occur:

Small Group Discussion presentation (PDF)

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.

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