Renaming the Recreation Center

The Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez Recreation Center was named to honor a pillar of East Austin, Rudy Mendez. Learn more about the process and about Rudy.

Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez, born in Austin in 1944, studied dance and performing arts in New York and Spain. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and Costa Rica, touring with each country's national ballet company and developing performing arts curriculum and programs for youth. In 1978, he returned to Austin and founded the Ballet East Dance Company to provide a platform for young choreographers and dancers and to develop vigorous outreach to Black and Hispanic communities in East Austin. From 1978 to 2000, Mr. Mendez worked for the Parks and Recreation Department as a program specialist at Metz Recreation Center. In 1989, he developed the city-wide program "Dare to Dance," recognized nationally. Mr. Mendez also created the Folkloric Dance and Mentoring Program to encourage students of living in East Austin to graduate high school. Rudy Mendez died in 2019.

Rudy Mendez posing at the ESB-MACC



Important Announcement

Our top priority remains the safety, health and well-being of all participants, staff and the Austin Community. Please continue to remain vigilant and take all necessary steps to ensure you and your family remain healthy and are reducing the risk of illness across the Parks and Recreation Department and at home.  We are grateful for your participation in our programs and services. If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact us. For more information on the symptoms of COVID-19 and resources to keep you safe, please visit COVID-19 in Austin | or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC.

Below is a summary of guideline changes that we ask you please read carefully:

Illness within a Program

If a participant has symptoms of COVID-19, or is a close contact of someone with COVID-19, they may be permitted to return to PARD programming only when the following conditions are met:

  • If the participant has had a fever, cough, or shortness of breath and has not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they should stay home and away from others until 24 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms resolved. If symptoms worsen during that time, contact your healthcare provider to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19.
  • If a participant is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must remain out of the facility for a minimum of ten (10) days after the onset of first symptoms. The participant may return under the following conditions:
    • If they had a fever, 24 hours fever free without the use of fever-reducing medication AND they see an improvement in their initial symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); AND
    • Ten (10) days after symptom onset.
  • If a participant believes they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 but are not currently sick or showing symptoms, they should monitor their health for fever, cough or shortness of breath during the 14 days after they last had contact with the sick person with COVID-19. Public gatherings, such as camp and participation in programs, should be avoided for 14 days.
  • If a positive case is reported within camp, any individual deemed to be considered a close-contact will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days from all PARD Programs.
    • PARD will provide a letter to all parents upon becoming aware of an active case, outlining whether their child is believed to be a close-contact or not.
    • A close-contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 ft. of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more.


  • In response to the Mayor’s Order issued on August 11, 2021, all youth program participants over the age of two (2) are required to wear a cloth face covering (mask) during program hours and while on or in City property, unless otherwise exempted. Face coverings should be provided by the parent/guardian. All PARD staff will be required to wear a cloth face covering (mask), as well as any parent/guardian picking up or dropping off participants.
    • Face coverings should not be placed on:
      • Children younger than 2 years old.
      • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
      • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
      • A child with a significant behavioral or psychological issue undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by a face covering.
      • A child with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious wearing a mask.
      • A child with a facial deformity that causes airway obstruction.
      • Anyone participating in activities where the mask could get wet, like swimming or water play.

Out-Of-School Time Youth Programs

The Parks and Recreation Department is committed to offering programs that foster Youth Development in a safe and caring environment. We believe in creating opportunities for youth that expose them to critical thinking and leadership development while helping explore interest through enhancements, arts, and active play. Come and experience the spectrum of opportunities with the Parks and Recreation Youth Programs.

Youth Sports

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department offers year-round co-ed youth sports that teach fundamentals and stress sportsmanship. Our seasonal leagues provide a safe recreational setting structured for a beginner to intermediate player. Lead by volunteer coaches, games are noncompetitive in order to emphasize teamwork and physical fitness. 

Teen Programs

The Parks and Recreation Department is committed to offering programs that encourage Youth Development through outdoor exploration, the arts, critical thinking, and leadership development.

  • Archery
  • Paint & Jam
  • Summer Camp
  • Teen Turn Ups
  • Friday Night Hoops
  • Totally Cool Totally Art (TCTA)

Toddler Programs

The Parks and Recreation Department is committed to offering programs that foster Youth Development in a safe and caring environment. We believe in creating opportunities to help explore interest through enhancements, arts, and active play.

  • Toddler Fundamentals and Fun League

Adult and 50+ Programs 

The Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of Senior Programs and Services for adults and people 50 years of age and older. We are committed to providing an environment that encourages active and healthy lifestyles through recreational and educational programs and services.

Community and Special Events

The Parks and Recreation Department provides opportunities for families, friends and neighbors to come together and socialize, meet new people, enhance existing relationships, and create community.



Program Documents and Forms

Virtual Programs Release Form (PDF)

Adult Registration Form (PDF)

Youth Registration Form (PDF)

Youth Financial Assistance - English (PDF)

Youth Financial Assistance - Spanish (PDF)

Parent Handbook - English (PDF)

Parent Handbook - Spanish (PDF)

Facility and Grounds Rental Information

User Guide and Rental Agreement

Video Tour of Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez Recreation Center

Mendez Recreation Center Staff

Jonathon Haynes Recreation Supervisor

Stephanie Martinez Program Specialist

Iliana Dominguez Program Specialist

Antonia Riojas Program Instructor

Cindy Palacios Buildings & Grounds Assistant


About Mendez Recreation Center

The original land on which Mendez Recreation Center is located was acquired by a bond purchase in 1933. The present center opened in 1972 and was renamed after Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez, a pillar of East Austin and former program specialist. The existing facility was built in 1972 through matching funds from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and Model Cities funds. The facility includes a main building, playground, outdoor stage, tennis court, covered outdoor basketball court, picnic tables, and is located just off the Hike & Bike Trail. In 1978, Martin Junior High facilities were acquired as a satellite facility. Satellite facilities adjacent to Festival Beach include tennis courts and lighted ball fields. In 1982, Austin voters gave approval for the expansion of facilities through the Capital Improvements Program. On July 29, 2020, City Council approved the renaming of the facility to honor Rudy Mendez.

The Rodolfo "Rudy" Mendez Recreation Center offers a wide variety of programs for youth, adults, seniors as well as fun community events throughout the year. Youth programs include After School Program, Girl Scouts (Troop 2407), youth sport clinics and leagues, Toddler sport programs, out-of-school-time camps, summer camp and more! Adult programs include a FREE Seniors program for 50+ adults, Coed and women’s kickball, sport leagues and tournaments, ceramics classes and a FREE core exercise class. Mendez Recreation Center also offers Teen Camp for teens ages 12-15 during the summer. Community events include Movie under the Stars during the summer, Community Easter Egg Hunt, Cinco De Mayo Fiesta, 4th of July Celebration, Community Halloween Carnival, Dog Extravaganza, Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Night Before Christmas with Santa and Youth Valentines Dance. One event every month to bring the community together for a good time at the park!

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