Woolridge Square Park Renovations

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Blog Posts | No Comments

Originally posted on Downtown Austin Blog: http://downtownaustinblog.org/2012/06/07/wooldridge-square-park-is-getting-a-facelift/

Wooldridge Square Park is closed for the next year, or so, as it receives improve

ments to the irrigation and landscaping.

Amidst a sea of bureaucratic bunk houses, a Malaise Era parking garage, a jail, and a drive-thru Bank of America, the park’s central gazebo and the close Austin History center can still conjure up memories of a shaded and serene sloped park hill.

Wooldridge Square was a part of the original plans for the City of Austin as laid out by Edwin Waller in 1839. It became a dedicated park in 1909 when then-Mayor Wooldridge cleared and drained the site for civic green space. The gazebo in the center of the park was added in 1910 and has a rich history of political speeches and gatherings for State, County and City officials.

The park is recently best known for hosting giant chess , and being the defacto setup for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which helps feed Austin’s homeless population.

A couple of months ago, I headed over to play giant chess in the evening. Very enjoyable. No safety concerns, personally, but it’s clear that vagrancy keeps the masses at a distance.

If Wooldridge’s challenges can be distilled into three buckets, below is how I would describe them:

1) no surrounding pedestrian-oriented uses (attraction)

2) vagrancy (perception of safety)

3) poor/no irrigation (placemaking, grass)

Within a year, the irrigation should be improved. I understand that alternative placement or better coordination with MLF is being discussed. There’s a higher and better use for that parking garage and Bank of America, and those will eventually be replaced.

This is progress.

Site Plan
Giant Chess!

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