‘Platica’ Meeting – Master Park Plan (Aug.14, 2012)
August 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Last night I attended a small gathering at the Metz Recreation Center concerning the Master Park Plan for the Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach, Fiesta Gardens and Holly Power Plant site park (in East Austin).
A community outreach team for the Master Park Plan facilitated a ‘platica’ with stakeholders interested in the future of these Parks. The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is working with a team of consultants led by Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates Inc. (MVVA) on this public space project. Another ‘platica’ is taking place tonight August 15 6pm at Metz Recreation Center.
In the meeting, participants included a small gathering of residents (long term and newly arrived), neighborhood association members, and people interested in the hike/bike trails along the river. Participants of the ‘platica’ in some way found out about the meeting through an ‘commuinty advisory group’.
The outreach team was hoping that particpants felt more comfortable in sharing their thoughts in a smaller, intimate setting. In general particpants were asked to share their ideas about a ‘future vision of the parkland’.
Even though particpants were encouraged to ask questions, facilitators were aiming to keep the discussion focused on three questions:
- how should the neighborhood benefit as a result of the master plan?
- how should the City of Austin benefit as a result of the master plan?
- who else needs to participate in the community workshops?
Facilitators explained that answers to these three questions would then be taken back to the consultant designing the park. Additionally, participants were told that their input would be included and that ‘he was not just hearing from the loud people or people taking over the meetings; that he’s actually hearing and trying to hear from people that are in the community”. Participants were also encouraged to invite people to meetings because the designer said that the more feedback and information he gets from people that are going to actually use the park, the better he can make it the way they (users) want it.
Partipants were told that no park plans exist yet. Discussion ranged from topics about the planning process, the need for transparency, history of neighborhood park plans, community calls for park maintenace & repairs, project funding.
A few concerns incuded the need to hear citizen input, traffic impact, effect on property taxes, lasting impact on existing park character and Mexican American history.
At the end of the meeting, I quickly recorded comments from three women attending the meeting. I asked them why they came to the meeting? What they thought of the meeting? What they wanted to say to the general public?
Here are their comments:
Laura Estrada – speaks about what she’s heard about the plans thus far; history of ‘Chicano Park’; her concerns; funding questions; timing of proposed improvments/changes
Señora Beatrice Segovia – speaks about how she found out about the ‘platica’; how she wants to know more about the plan; City of Austin history of not sharing information; wants City of Austin to inform public about meetings/plan.
Elisa Rendon Montoya – speaks about her confusion about the platicas; previous neighborhood improvement park plans; history of the area; fight to preserve the parks; wants to know the role of homeowners in the area; wonders about the impact on the community and affordable housing; call for supporters.
– Public Meeting #1: August 20, 2012; 6PM – 8PM; Mexican-American Cultural Center – Auditorium