Austin neighborhood has lots of kids but no parks

Highland Neighborhood Park

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An area of Austin that has the lowest number of parks but second highest number of kids is getting a shot to redevelop a park space and turn it into something the entire community can use.

It’s called the Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields located at 401 W. St. Johns Ave. The city’s parks department has owned the property since the 1960’s. It was back in the 1970’s the University Hills Optimist Club took over the use of the two fields and not much has changed since then.

Longtime St. John’s resident Damon Howze takes his dog for a walk through the park each day and often a neighborhood cat follows the pair. He says he would like to see something additional done with the park.

“We are a gentrifying neighborhood so we have a lot of babies and young children and they need this green space to play,” said Howze.

Right now there’s no playground, walking trails, or picnic benches. The parks department is currently working with residents on a master plan to make improvements over the next 10 years. Wednesday night the second of three master planning meetings will be held at Reilly Elementary School from 6:30-8 p.m. The goal is to show residents conceptual drawings created by a city hired consultant concerning what the seven acre park could look like.

“A lot of these neighbors in pulling together to make this park happen have gotten to know each other and it’s become a gathering spot for July 4th for a picnic it’s really a community builder is what it is,” said Charles Mabry, Park Development Coordinator

When it comes to funding any improvements from this master plan it could take a voter approved bond that won’t be on the ballot until 2018 and then several years for the development to take place. A group that calls itself Friends of Highland Park Neighborhood say that is too long. Once the master plan is finished next month they plan to start fundraising and applying for grants to get the job done as soon as possible. Improvements are estimated to cost between $1 and $2 million.

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