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Dealing With Austin's Overgrown Parks

Updated: Wednesday, June 11 2014, 05:50 PM CDT

Recent rains have some Austin neighborhood parks looking overgrown. Austin has about 250 parks, but 65, or about one out of every four parks, are undeveloped. That means the city has the land but does not have the budget to do anything with it. Any maintenance, including mowing, is handled on a case by case basis. 

Tall grass and weeds, poison ivy and a field full of mosquitoes. Recent rains have some neighborhood parks shooting up and it's not a welcome site at undeveloped parks like Legend Oaks. 

"I think the city should be responsible for maintaining the grass and the mosquitoes, maybe spraying a little bit," said Kristen Rutherford who lives near the park. 

Danny Dobbs plays tennis on the edge of the park. 

"I do see it kind of high sometimes," said Dobbs when asked about the grass. 

But, the city is out-numbered in its battle with the summer growing season. 

"We have over 250 parks and approximately 160 maintenance workers to maintain those parks," said Charles Vaclavik who helps manage Austin's park system. 

Big parks like Zilker are a top priority. 

"We service those every day and sometimes twice or three times a day," said Vaclavik. 

Neighborhood and pocket parks get a little less attention and undeveloped parks are not budgeted at all.

"If we were to maintain all the undeveloped parks we would not... the service level at the developed parks would go down," said Vaclavik. 

Designated wildflowers areas in parks are also allowed to let nature run its course. 

"When wildflower season comes we do not mow those. So we respect those areas," said Vaclavik. 

If you have an undeveloped park near your house call 311 if there are any problems.

The operators will figure out if the park is managed by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and what, if any, action might need to be taken.

By Bettie Cross

Dealing With Austin's Overgrown Parks


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