Does Austin's Newest Park Have Enough Funding?
Just days after its grand opening, Roy G. Guerrero Metropolitan Park already faces an uncertain future.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department's budget allows for only four full-time workers to maintain a 400-acre complex of trails, playgrounds, sports fields and other features.
“I can see us making it to three years without any noticeable degradation of the park itself,” said Jesse Vargas, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation. “Certainly, the resources we have allocated at the moment, even the shared resources, would not be enough to maintain the park as it looks now past the three-year mark.”
Monday’s grand opening capped more than 10 years of effort to complete the park. Linda Guerrero, daughter of the late community leader, has been a part of the project since the beginning.
“There were problems getting this park to move forward because there were budget issues,” Guerrero said. “My concerns now are that, because of the budget, at any time we could have staff cuts. We’re already delayed and have deferred maintenance projects that exist that are probably in the hundreds. In the future, what will be put in place to continue to maintain these 400 acres of land?”
What will happen after staff can no longer keep up with the natural degradation of the park is uncertain. According to Vargas, the city plans to make a compelling argument for additional funding, not only for Guerrero Park, but also for similar parks that also lack proper funding.
“We currently manage over 275 parks, 19,000 acres and 332 buildings," he said. "The funding is certainly not sufficient to support it all effectively.”