Through engagement activities, community members reimagined and shaped a vision for a resilient, healthy, and connected area along Central Williamson Creek Greenway between Menchaca Road and Congress Avenue. The nearly 58 acres of parkland and 17 acres of residential floodplain buyout properties form almost two miles of connected publicly owned green space. The planning process supported a longer-term initiative to engage the community in conversations and visioning around the green space that surrounds Central Williamson Creek, so that it can be transformed into a healthy resource for all. On August 24, 2021, the Parks and Recreation Board unanimously voted recommendation for approval of the Central Williamson Creek Greenway Vision Plan by the Parks and Recreation Department Director. 

View the Final Vision Plan (PDF)

Dad and daughter hopping Central Williamson Creek

Background

Community leaders in nearby neighborhoods have been working on improvement projects along the creek and on adjacent properties for many years, with a vision to make the Central Williamson Creek Greenway a healthy green space for residents to enjoy. The properties that make up the green space along Central Williamson Creek are parkland managed by the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) and the Watershed Protection Department, but are not currently managed as a connected greenway for public use.

Project Description

This community-led planning process went hand-in-hand with a longer-term initiative to engage the community in conversations and visioning around the green space that surrounds Central Williamson Creek, so that it can be transformed into a healthy resource for all. The planning process was a collaboration between community members, The Nature Conservancy, Community Powered Workshop, the City of Austin, and Asakura Robinson. The Vision Plan and community engagement were funded by St. David’s Foundation Healthy Parks Program and JPB Foundation.

This area presented a unique opportunity to bring healthy park amenities to an area that doesn’t currently have designated, accessible green space. And in working alongside community members to envision what that space might look like in the future, the goal was that it will be able to meet the needs of the residents who live around it and will enjoy it most.

With a series of community engagement events and meetings throughout 2020, the project team collaborated with residents and stakeholders to shape the direction of the community-led Vision Plan, with a goal to create a proposal that balances community priorities with the lowest possible impact to the surrounding environment. This may take shape as a connected nature trail that stretches the two miles between Menchaca Road and Congress Avenue, along with outdoor social gathering spots, community gardens and other amenities that emerged as community priorities.

In the long term, the collective hope is that this process will lead to a strong sense of community ownership over the vision and future of Williamson Creek, the Vision Plan, and this South Austin park space. Moreover, the goal is that the community and City departments are well-positioned to apply for grants and garner municipal support for its implementation.

Objectives:

  • Improve community access to green space along Central Williamson Creek
  • Offer vital ecological benefits – flood control, habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and more – but also provide opportunities for residents to connect with nature and use green spaces for recreation, relaxation, and social gathering
  • Foster a strong sense of community stewardship of Williamson Creek and the implementation of the final plan

Schedule

  • May to December 2020: Conduct community engagement opportunities throughout the planning process.
  • June to September 2020: Community visioning with concept images, goals, and project area diagram.
  • October 2020 to Spring 2021: Draft Vision Plan review and feedback.
  • Spring to Summer 2021: Final Vision Plan document presented for adoption.

Presentations to Board and Commission

Community Engagement

Community virtual events and conversations were held throughout the planning process to cultivate dialogue among residents about the past, present and future of Central Williamson Creek. Community members could also download at-home activities they can do with family and friends to provide input on what should be included in the Central Williamson Creek Greenway Vision Plan.

The Community Powered Workshop project website gives a comprehensive look at the history and background of the area, planning process engagement activities, and a portal for community members to share their experiences and stories with the Creek. The activities and input led to the following four goals:

  • Goal #1: A Restored, Biodiverse Greenway
  • Goal #2: A Community-Centered Greenway
  • Goal #3: An Accessible and Visible Greenway
  • Goal #4: An Active and Connected Greenway

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency, all in-person community events were moved to virtual events paired with at-home activities that households can participate in. Information for each of these opportunities will be provided as they are confirmed.

Contact

For questions or comments about this project, please contact Christine Chute-Canul by email or phone at 512-974-9515.

Funding and Resources

This planning process is being funded by St. David’s Foundation Healthy Parks Program and JPB Foundation. PARD partner, The Nature Conservancy is leading the planning efforts with guidance and support from PARD and the Watershed Protection Department.