Austin’s newest urban greenspace, an 11-acre oasis of grassy lawn, sprawling oak trees, an outdoor music venue and an elevated walkway straight out of the Jetson’s, will open to the public Aug. 14.
To celebrate, the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy is planning an all-day unveiling, dubbed CommUNITY Day, complete with live performances and activities.
Construction of Waterloo Park, 500 East 12th Street, began in 2018. I strolled the grounds during a media preview Tuesday. The best part? Taking a zip down the stone slide, specially designed so it doesn’t get as hot as a traditional metal one. The curving, elevated skywalk serves up great views of Waller Creek and beyond, and the park, which wraps along Waller Creek, also features a 1.5-mile hike-and-bike trail, lots of inviting lawn for spreading out, and cool playscapes that look like a tumbled pile of logs and giant-sized blades of grass.
Some of the trees at the park were transplanted from other locations, including one that was saved from the grounds of the Texas State Capitol two years ago. Gardens are filled with native plants.
CommUNITY Day will feature live musical and performing arts, kids’ activities, educational and environmental programs, plus booths from community partners including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Capital Metro, and Art from the Streets. An evening “Taste of Austin” concert is also planned at the Moody Amphitheater Aug. 14.
A week later, Gary Clark Jr. will perform the first ticketed show Aug. 20 at the park’s Moody Amphitheater. One hundred free tickets to the show (and all forthcoming C3 performances) will be distributed to the community through a lottery system. The remaining tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. June 25 at Ticketmaster.com.
Designers said the project was planned to connect people to nature and allows the removal of 28 acres of land from the city’s flood plain for development.
“It’s an important first step to transform a neglected stream system into a healthy ecosystem,” Susan Kenzle of the city of Austin’s Watershed Protection department.
Greenway officials touted the lawn’s tough and quick-draining lawn and said C3 would host about 35 concerts a year at the park. Other events are also planned.
“I like that it’s an opportunity to engage and bring people together. There’s a growing need for public space in this growing city,” said Martin Nembhard, director of park operations for the Waterloo Greenway.
He’s looking forward to seeing the park filled with people. “We didn’t build it to be a monument or a museum. It’s for people to enjoy,” he said.
The park opening will mark the finish of Phase One of the Waterloo Greenway park system, which will connect 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake.
Go to WaterlooGreenway.org for a full programming schedule and MoodyAmphitheater.com for a full calendar of concerts.