Austin Environmental Commission Advocates for Parking Study and Zilker Park Polo Field Restoration

Austin Environmental Commission Advocates for Parking Study and Zilker Park Polo Field RestorationSource: City of Austin
Matt Mitchell
Published on February 12, 2024

Austin's city has stepped into action with the Environmental Commission's recent maneuvers targeting parking strategies and the restoration of cherished green spaces. According to the Austin Monitor, the commission is pushing for a dual initiative – a thorough parking study and the revival of Zilker Park's Polo Field.

The commission, in a meeting held on Feb. 7, addressed a proposal by Commissioner Hanna Cofer for the city to collaborate, with an independent research partner, to evaluate the environmental consequences of various parking solutions. This move accompanies the City Council's recent elimination of parking minimums. Although the initial language in the draft raised trepidations about resurrecting dead plans for park parking structures, revisions ensued that appeased the concerned civilians.

Cofer, keen to transcend the realm of perceptions in parking debates, desires "a shared language and facts and data, and not just perceptions and jingles, about which (type of) parking is best." Commissioner Jennifer Bristol, reinforcing Cofer's standpoint, cited the sustainable parking strategies that several cities have already successfully implemented. Garage trends now include eco-innovations such as green roofs and solar panels, attempting to mitigate environmental impacts.

The commission's second triumph is the proposal to restore the Polo Field within Zilker Park, a proposal poised to take effect starting Fiscal Year 2025 after events like the Austin City Limits Festival have concluded. "No one can ever say that it’s been totally restored … so the goal of this effort is to restore it to a pristine state," commented Commissioner Richard Brimer. The same resolution seeks to ban regular parking on the field, sustaining it only for special events, with conditions to ameliorate any damages incurred.

Even as the Polo Field currently hosts an estimated 1,000 vehicles transforming it into a makeshift parking lot, the commission calls upon the city to scout alternative parking solutions. These include nearby parking accommodations or perhaps shuttles, ensuring access for seniors, families with small children, and those with limited mobility. The commission's endeavor, as Commissioner Dave Sullivan signified, hinges on the Council's backing the idea of a permanent restoration and moving beyond using the field for parking. "And at that point, they’ll be incentivized to look for other solutions that use nearby commercial parking or shuttles or some other solution that does not involve parking on the Polo Field," Sullivan told the Austin Monitor.