How do PARKners help Austin’s parks?

A child walks on a play structure at Govalle Neighborhood Park

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth McGuire for Austin Parks Foundation

The 2020-2023 renovation of Govalle Neighborhood Park included a new playground, safety lighting, resurfacing and lighting for the basketball court, a softball field backstop, and new connection paths. Austin Parks Foundation collaborated with Austin Parks and Recreation to fund, design, and build these improvements.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department does a lot of work in our parks. Maybe you’ve seen us out mowing turf, pruning trees, restocking bathrooms, cleaning graffiti, emptying trash, making repairs, or taking care of 100,000 other important tasks. Hundreds of City of Austin staff dedicate their careers to serving our 361 parks. 

But we can’t do it all. The Department could never have enough funding or time to mulch every tree, pick up every scrap of litter, or weed out every invasive plant. We can’t give every park the playscape, dog-friendly water fountain, landscaping, ecological restoration, or art installation that Austinites have asked for. Austin Parks and Recreation wants more for our parks than we can give alone. 

Luckily, the Department is not alone. In the gap between what we can do and what Austinites deserve, we have PARKners. 

Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club

Photo Courtesy of Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club

What is a PARKner?

A PARKner is a community-based organization that partners with Austin Parks and Recreation. A PARKnership is their partnership. “PARKner” is a word mashup, or portmanteau, of “park” and “partner.”

Through the Community PARKnerships Program, Austin Parks and Recreation cooperates with over 50 PARKners. Just as an ecosystem needs a rich variety of plants, animals, and other natural elements to stay healthy, Austin needs all kinds of PARKners to create the best possible parks.

Some PARKners are large, established nonprofits with 20 or 30 years of experience in Austin parks, such as The Trail Conservancy or Austin Parks Foundation. Some PARKners are other government institutions, such as Austin Independent School District. AISD partners with the Department to run 21 Joint-Use Sites, or School Parks, that Austinites can enjoy when school is out. Many other PARKners are grassroots nonprofits like Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club and neighborhood groups like East Williamson Creek Greenbelt’s park adopters.

Every organization contributes to the ecosystem of Austin parks.

What do PARKnerships do for Austin?

By teaming up with the City of Austin, PARKners help us meet residents’ demands for more and better parks in the face of limited public resources.

In the Department's long range plan Our Parks, Our Futurethe City of Austin committed to strategies to improve Austin parks. PARKners help activate and enhance urban public spaces, align programs with community interest, and optimize and improve efficiency of operation.

How do PARKners do that? 

Stay tuned for the following blog posts, exploring what our partners, or PARKners, do for Austin.