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November 2015: Special Events at City Parks

Our city’s public parks help promote public health, a sense of community, and economic vitality. As our population grows and special events get more popular, the public park system is facing increasing demands. During the month of November, community members came together for discussions about how City parkland should be used, addressing both the benefits and challenges that special events bring. Read more background information here

Conversation Feedback Summary 
When asked about significant benefits of hosting special events on Austin parkland, many participants talked about the positive economic impact to the city, contribution to the positive image and desirability of Austin, and park maintenance improvements that accompany the events. Health benefits were also mentioned.

Concerns were also discussed, many of which revolved around the disruption of daily life. The issue of traffic, parking and street closures caused by these events was raised on multiple fronts. Safety for pedestrians was addressed, especially around schools that are on or near parkland. Monitoring of sound contamination to the surrounding communities was brought up during several conversations. Many participants showed concern when it comes to the number of parks used for these big events and want to see the events rotate between parks so that every park will get the same attention from the City. Fair and equitable use of the event revenue was of importance to many. Complaints of inadequate communication with neighborhoods and the lack of addressing residents concerns were made.

In addition, several of the conversations addressed potential solutions to these concerns. Suggestions included looking at what other cities are doing, appointing neighborhood liaisons, minimizing the length and extent of interruptions and use of traffic guards.

The feedback shows that although most people are happy that Austin is hosting these events, there are some specific and significant concerns which they feel need to be addressed.

Read the full report here

How discussion feedback has been used
The City of Austin has appointed a Parkland Events Task Force to determine how all City parks—especially Zilker Park, Auditorium Shores, and Festival Beach—can be assets for Austin’s residents and still host events. Input from November's Conversation Corps meetings is being reviewed by the task force and will be used in the recommendations that they make to the Austin City Council.