Group working to preserve off-leash area

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A group of dog owners is pleading with the city to re-think changes coming to one of Austin’s most popular parks.

Crews have been working on a construction project at Auditorium Shores for several months. The renovated park will limit the area for dogs off-leash to a fraction of the 18 acre park.

Dozens of people and their dogs protested at Auditorium Shores Sunday. They want to keep all of the park land open to dogs. Lined up along a construction fence, 50 or so people hoped to fight back against the changes coming.

“We’ve had this park leash-free for over 35 years,” said Piper Becker, who has lived in Austin for 23 years.

“We just want to continue to be able to use the park as we have, and we don’t see any reason why we cannot,” said Ken Altes, who was also at the rally.

In the fall of 2013, Austin’s City Council approved changes to Auditorium Shores. Those include redoing the parking lot, re-enforcing the shoreline from erosion, and putting in an irrigation system.

Dogs were previously allowed to run off-leash throughout the entire park. The new plans approved by the council only allow dogs off-leash in a four-acre area, which is less than one-third of Auditorium Shores.

KXAN reported on the series of public meetings held where hundreds of opponents spoke up about changes. People rallying Sunday hoped to once again get the message out.

“This a public park, and this design that they put together is really more for events — not for us to be here as residents to use the parks,” said Becker.

City leaders have said one reason to keep dogs away from certain areas of auditorium shores is that they pose a danger to runners, walkers and cyclists, and also that dogs contributed to the wearing out of grass and the shoreline.

“We talk about much of the park being banned from dogs, but of course, they’re always with a human. So, it’s banning people as well,” said Altes.

You can express your opinions on the future of Town Lake Metropolitan Park, which is the area around Auditorium Shores and Butler Park. The Austin Parks Foundation will host a public visioning session Tuesday, May 6th at 6 p.m. at Fiesta Gardens.

You must register for the session. Click here if you’re interested in attending.

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