At St. David’s Foundation, we believe that all people in Central Texas need and deserve easy access to safe, vibrant park spaces where they can gather in community with their family, friends, and neighbors of all ages and abilities. We know that right now, that’s not the reality for a lot of people living around us, and a lot of inequity exists. There are many obstacles to creating a healthy lifestyle, and where you live can be a big factor.
We recently unveiled the Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties in partnership with the Trust for Public Land. The purpose of the plan was to provide our community with tools for making more strategic parks investments through a health and equity lens. The Healthy Parks plan was informed by an engagement process which collected input from over 2,000 community members, learning what a healthier park looks like to local residents, and how government and nonprofit institutions can make that a reality. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Trust for Public Land mapped the entire three county region to determine what areas have the greatest park need. Their maps and the tools have already been used by multiple organizations throughout Central Texas.
In reviewing this plan, we found that park inequity exists in many of the same places that also harbor health inequity. In response, we issued the Parks with Purpose: Parks for Healthy and Equity RFP which was released over the summer to address these types of inequities within Bastrop, Caldwell and Travis Counties. Through this RFP, we were seeing to emphasize the “purpose” and the imperative to activate community park assets, the call for equity and the need for improved health.
We received applications from all over Travis, Bastrop and Caldwell counties and ultimately selected to fund projects from 19 organizations. On November 15th, we celebrated these organizations with an announcement event at East Austin’s Colony Park.
We look forward to seeing the work that our new grantees do to build projects that increase park equity in their communities – making the dream of having a safe and vibrant neighborhood park space a reality for more of our neighbors in Central Texas.
Art Spark Texas will be creating the Central Texas Parks Access Guide – a searchable database of state and local parks in Travis, Bastrop and Caldwell Counties.
Austin Independent School District will be designing and building a Social Emotional Learning garden and hosting a series of workshops at Reilly Elementary School in Austin. The garden will be a sustainable, meditative space and wildlife habitat that encourages children’s healthy self-esteem, curiosity, cooperation and mental well-being through gardening and gardening programs.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department will be installing a variety of nature-based play features at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. The features and programming will serve to activate the park with the City’s first ever nature play space, thereby increasing the frequency of park visits and connection to nature.
Austin Parks Foundation and the Pecan Springs/Springdale Neighborhood Association will be using our grant to begin the transformation of the undeveloped piece of parkland known as the Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt.
Austin Parks Foundation and Georgian Acres Neighborhood Association will be implementing a park plan in Georgian Acres, a park-deficient neighborhood with the highest amount of children and some of the most multi-family housing units of anywhere in the City of Austin.
Bastrop County will be installing adult fitness equipment composed of a shaded “fitness cluster” along their existing running train and installing and permanent restrooms in Cedar Creek Park.
The City of Elgin Parks and Recreation Department will be replacing aging playscape equipment, adding fitness opportunities, creating a multi-purpose track and planting new trees at Elgin Memorial Park.
The City of Lockhart will be building the Town Branch Trail System, which is a series of trails that travel through and around the Lockhart Municipal Park. The trail system would allow connectivity to existing neighborhoods and allow for pedestrian safe travel to the many fitness-based activities the park currently has to offer.
The City of Luling will be completing much-needed improvements Edgar B. Davis Northside Park, including renovation of the basketball court, shade installation over a playscape and an expansion of their walking trail. They will also be partnering with Luling Little League to improve their baseball and softball complex.
The City of Smithville will be making improvements to MLK Park, located in a low-income neighborhood. The improvements will include providing more shade, improved and ADA playscapes and intergenerational equipment, along with recreational programming.
Ecology Action of Texas will be constructing a new trail and accompanying restoration project at Roy G. Guerrero River Park from the Colorado River to parkland adjacent to ACC-Riverside.
Forklift Danceworks will activate historic Downs Field, build community, and increase social connection through creating a free community performance, a series of neighborhood gatherings at the park; and works by two collaborating local visual artists.
Go! Austin / VAMOS! Austin will be engaging community, nonprofit and city partners to activate green spaces, improve public safety, provide physical activity and increase community cohesion in the Dove Springs and Rundberg/St. John neighborhoods.
KaBOOM! will implement its signature Community-Build model to plan for and build a custom-designed playground and community gathering space at Luling’s Blanche Square Park. The proposed project will focus on both closing the equity gap of play opportunities, and creating a vibrant, fun, and activated park that mitigates the current barriers to active play within this community.
The Thinkery / Austin Children’s Museum will be collaborating with the City of Austin’s Corridor Program to create a series of interactive STEAM-based activations within a pocket park located at Bolm Road and Shady Lane in the Govalle Neighborhood in East Austin.
The Nature Conservancy – Will start the master planning process for central Williamson Creek parkland and floodplain buyout properties, transforming approximately 74 acres of underutilized public land into a healthy park space for the community.
The Trail Foundation will be working with Austin Parks and Recreation Department to support the redevelopment of the Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Holly Point. The revitalization of Holly Point will provide area residents and families with improved outdoor space for relaxing, socializing and being physically active. Improvements may include water access for fishing/recreation, shaded gathering spaces, decking under the heritage oaks, ADA access to the trails/ waterfront, and realignment of the Butler Trail system.
Travis Audobon Society will be restoring a historic barn at Blair Woods Sanctuary in East Austin for use as a shaded space where the community can both have access to nature and learn about Austin’s history.
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center will be building an ecologically-sound neighborhood park that fosters well-being and belonging at Pillow School Park.