AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin’s intramural fields in Northeast Austin are getting a major makeover.
And for good reason, the space hasn’t gotten a renovation in over 30 years.
However, neighbors who live along one side of the field say it’s costing the community something very special. “There’s just been a lot of uncertainty about the area, and now there’s more certainty,” said one neighbor, Brett Florio.
More certainty about the trail next to Whitaker Fields, which they’ve grown to love. “Everybody is saying, ‘Wait, what? They’re moving the fence, we’re losing that green space?'” said Florio. “We’ve been using this space, everybody in the community walks back and forth. To lose it is unfortunate.”
UT owns the space, but it previously wasn’t part of the intramural fields. Over time, an informal trail was created by the community.
An official with the university confirmed that once a new fence goes up, the trail will be inside of it and will become part of the sports fields.
Up until now, the university has voluntarily maintained a 50-foot buffer. Now, it will be reduced to a 20-foot buffer.
Neighbors like Florio wish there had been more community involvement in the decision. “It may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t mean we can’t mourn the loss, or look at possible options to keep the space,” said Florio.
UT officials say the project team did meet with neighbors, but couldn’t confirm whether neighbors were informed about the buffer zone changing.
The fields are expected to be open once again in late fall of this year.
Renovation impact on monk parakeets
In November, we told you the fields were also home to monk parakeets.
Due to the renovation, the UT System had to remove the nests. They say they did so as humanely as possible – making sure there were no babies or eggs inside.
Now, a wildlife biologist reports that some of the birds are nesting on the electric distribution lines nearby.