By Jennifer Potter-Miller
On Thursday, August 31, I joined the Austin Parks Foundation and other park adopters to advocate for parks funding at a public hearing at City Hall on the City of Austin’s 2018 budget. I hope that the new budget makes progress on addressing the huge shortfalls in funding for park maintenance and improvements! My testimony is below.
Good evening Mayor Adler and Council Members. My name is Jennifer Potter-Miller, and I live in the Cherrywood neighborhood in District 9. I’m with Friends of Patterson Park, and am part of a broad alliance of residents, park adopters, and organizations from across the city that are speaking with one voice on the importance of investing in Austin parks, trails and green spaces in the City of Austin’s 2018 budget.
I support the $3.4 million in PARD concept menu items outlined by the Austin Parks Foundation in partnership with many other key Austin parks stakeholder groups.
In particular, I support funds for playground safety and maintenance. Until this spring, the playground at Patterson Park had a rubberized pour-in-place flooring which had degraded terribly over many years. It had been patched repeatedly, but had reached a point where there were chunks missing throughout, creating serious trip hazards and exposing a lot of the concrete subflooring.
PARD was aware of the problem and had gotten a quote from a contractor for replacing the flooring with wood chips, which is the new standard, but at $60,000 it was outside their budget. We were informed that we would probably have to wait for a parks bond for funds to replace the flooring.
Then in the winter, a crew came to replace a broken panel on the toddler playscape, and realized that there were eight feet of exposed concrete at the base. They told me they would either have to close off that part of the playscape, or replace the flooring, and the supervisor decided to allocate two crews to do the work themselves instead of contracting it out. This was a huge commitment of human resources, and we are so so grateful to have a beautiful new mulch floor that is up to current safety standards.
I think that with additional staffing for playgrounds, problems like these at other parks will be caught and addressed before they become so severe. We recognize that PARD is doing the best that they can with limited resources, but they would be better able to serve our city’s 300 parks with additional support.
My neighbor Cerece Rosenthal said it perfectly after her 5 year old broke his arm at a private playground. “Playground safety and maintenance is important to me because I want my kids to feel happy, carefree and safe when they play at the park. Now that they have experienced Max’s break they worry about it happening again. When I can show them all the ways the city works to keep our parks safe it reassures them and let’s them play and have fun. Like kids should!”
Thank you for your time.
Photos by J. Potter-Miller, Friends of Patterson Park
Banner photo by CM Alison Alter/@ALTERforATX