As part of Austin’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative and the Green School Park program, PARD will be installing nature-based features and general park amenities at Sanchez Elementary Park in the fall 2021.

Community Meeting #4 – Virtual
February 10, 2021, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
View meeting recording

Green School Parks Background

In March of 2016, the City of Austin was one of seven cities nationwide selected to receive a planning grant from the project partners for Cities Connecting Children to Nature. The grant funded a six-month strategic planning process that brought together representatives from ten city departments, AISD, the health sector and nonprofit organizations in order to create a 3-year Implementation Plan that identifies how city leadership can provide abundant and equitable access to nature for the children of Austin, with a specific focus on children in low-income communities and children of color.

To achieve these goals, we conducted extensive research and mapping to identify areas of Austin with the largest gaps in nature equity. This informed our selection of the areas where priority implementation strategies are focused, including the Green School Parks strategy.

Green School Parks focus on creating a network of school parks that provide schools and the surrounding community the opportunity to learn from, steward and play in nature. These School Parks serve as a natural outdoor space for students, providing garden-based education and school-based nature play as a means to integrate nature experiences into school curriculum. The school parks also serve the surrounding community during out-of-school time hours, creating rich nature environments in areas of Austin that are park deficient and lack nature access.

Green School Parks have been created at Barrington Elementary and Wooldridge Elementary, with Sanchez Elementary being the third out of the pilot schools. As a designated Green School Park, these schools also receive professional development for their staff through our partnerships with EcoRise and PEAS.

Project Description

This project will focus on adding nature play features and general park amenities at the Sanchez Elementary Park that complement the new Sanchez campus. The features, which could include a stump jumps, climbing logs, loose parts play, trees, gardens, park benches and waste receptacles, will be designed to build on the AISD bond school renovations, and will be constructed after the bond project has been completed. Over the next several months, we will gather input, develop and design a park plan based on input gathered from the school and community, and construct the new features at the school park. The proposed date of completion is fall 2021. These features will be beneficial for children and families by providing play opportunities that encourage exploration, imagination, and cooperative play. They can also act as a living laboratory for the students at the school as they are incorporated into the school day.

Objectives:

  • Provide additional eco features to an updated school park which can be used for lessons
  • Activate underutilized park space in a park deficient urban neighborhood
  • Increase opportunity for children to interact with the natural world

Anticipated Schedule

  • October 2019 - February 2020: Conduct community engagement
  • March 2020 – September 2020: Develop and design a park plan
  • Summer 2021: Construction begins*
  • Fall 2021: New features available for public use*

*Due to COVID-19, construction timeline may be modified

Funding & Resources

This project will be funded through Parkland Dedication Funds, Development Services Urban Forest Fund, and additional sources.

Community Engagement

With assistance from the National Park Service, a series of community engagement events will be held prior to designing the space, including on online survey. Staff will work with the school renovation architects to coordinate features and construction timelines.

Community Meeting #4 – Virtual
February 10, 2021, 
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Metz Elementary School
View meeting recording

  • The purpose of this meeting is to present design options for the Sanchez Green School Park and receive feedback.

Past Engagement

Community Meeting #1 at Metz Fall Festival
October 25, 2019,
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Metz Elementary School
84 Robert T Martinez Jr St, Austin, TX 78702

The purpose of this meeting is to gather input from the Metz school community on nature play features and park amenity options for the school park.

Community Meeting #2 at Sanchez Dia De Los Muertos Festival
November 1, 2019,
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Metz Elementary School
84 Robert T Martinez Jr St, Austin, TX 78702
The purpose of this meeting is to gather input from the Sanchez school community on nature play features and park amenity options for the school park.

Community Meeting #3 at Metz/Sanchez Principal Coffee
February 7, 2020, 
8:00 AM
Metz Elementary School
84 Robert T Martinez Jr St, Austin, TX 78702
The purpose of this meeting is to gather input from the Sanchez and Metz families on nature play features and park amenity options for the school park.
 

    Contact

    For project questions, contact Darcy Nuffer at Darcy.Nuffer@austintexas.gov or 512-974-9460
    For program questions, contact Melody Alcazar at Melody.Alcazar@austintexas.gov or 512-974-9466

    Information on this page is subject