Austin’s Waller Creek Project
Recently, urban planning groups in Austin have announced the Waller Creek Project, a massive infrastructure project intended to revitalize parks across the city and provide new urban centers for the city to build around. The project will be realized through a series of parks throughout the city, focused on the eponymous Waller Creek. They will be a mix of restored old and new parks, blending several different types of environment and design ideas. The project is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization know was the Waller Creek Conservatory, who is working with the city to restore the parks.
They’ve already announced one renovation: Waterloo Park. Using a 15 million dollar fund featuring a mixture of public and private funding, the restoration is expected to be concluded in 2019, and will feature both expanded park space and other amenities such as an amphitheater and dining areas. There will be many new trails, hiking areas, and garden spaces for people to explore. Until recently, Waterloo Park was a key fixture of the city. Music festivals such as Fun Fun Fun Fest would be held there frequently. However, it’s been closed for construction lately and fallen into some neglect. This new project hopes to revitalize it.
Maintaining parks and public spaces is one of the most important areas of local governance. Not only does the creation of infrastructure and construction create many new jobs people who need it, but areas such as parks are essential for bringing communities together. They create spaces for people to meet and interact, to form a shared identity around. They’re both a great place for people to gather and explore, and a place for the city to host events that foster interconnectedness between those living there.
Not having these sorts of places can be toxic for a city. If areas like parks fall into disrepair, or are too unsafe to attend, people will naturally grow apart, and the community will be weakened. It may seem like a small thing, but too often it’s also part of a larger pattern of neglect. In places where parks aren’t maintained, it’s likely that other infrastructures such as schools and roads are also being neglected. Too often communities are allowed to be ignored in this way, as funds and attention from local governance are focused elsewhere. But to create a stronger Austin, we need to make sure none of our population is being left behind, and everyone has access to those resources.
Of course, maintaining parks and infrastructure is much easier said than done. According to Hamlin Tree Care, there are over 33.8 million trees in Austin alone. The Waller Creek Construction project is projected to cost over 230$ million dollars. Maintaining this scale of a city will be a massive, almost full-time undertaking. But it will be worth it. As we work on our city, it will flourish, and investing in our home is something that will benefit all of us. This may be only one part of the project, but it’s a major step forward to a better Austin.