Pavilion Project Frequently Asked Questions
Why build a park pavilion?
The idea for a park pavilion came from comments by neighbors who volunteered in the park during tree planting and other events from 2009-2011. Neighbors expressed their desire for more seating areas, more shade, and a gathering space. A covered picnic pavilion would meet all of these public desires.
We began to research requirements and guidelines, and we met with Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) staff to discuss the idea. We visited with other neighbors who built their own park pavilion and learned from their experience. We then searched for project partners to help us.
Why was the particular location chosen?
The location of the pavilion will be just off the main sidewalk from the park entrance off Arroyo Seco. For technical reasons, which PARD was most concerned with, this location allows for easiest construction and equipment access from the road and main sidewalk, is near enough to required ADA parking, and does not require building new sidewalks.
For aesthetic reasons, this location is near the children’s areas to allow caregivers to keep an eye on things, and does not infringe on the open field west of the playscape. Park survey comments affirmed that park goers enjoy the open field for various activities.
Also, this location is nicely shaded in the evenings, which extends the hours of usefulness and comfort for park goers. Once the surrounding trees mature, the pavilion will eventually be tucked among the grove of trees, thereby blending into the park surroundings better.
What level of support is there for the pavilion?
Based on guidance from PARD, we did education and outreach to make sure the neighborhoods and park users really supported the pavilion idea. The pavilion was a specific item in the Brentwood Park Master Planning Survey over the summer of 2011. It was exciting to see that 45% of survey respondents said the pavilion was Very Important, and another 40% said it was Somewhat Important. In addition, 45% of survey respondents said it was one of their top three priorities for the park.
How will this project be funded?
Although PARD has approved this Community Improvement Project, they will not fund or build the pavilion. It was our responsibility to raise the necessary funds and identify grant opportunities.
We have several project partners, such as Gossett Jones Homes and Violet Crown Community Works, and they have donated large amounts and are doing in-kind work. We also applied for, and received, two grants from the Austin Parks Foundation and the city’s Neighborhood Partnership Program.
To help future project at the park, please make a tax deductible donation.
How will the facility be maintained?
Since the annual PARD budget is always strained, they require that new facilities be virtually no-maintenance. For this reason, the pavilion is a galvanized steel structure on a concrete slab: durable, low-maintenance, and very long lasting materials. We anticipate some landscaping efforts by local gardening enthusiasts, and the city already provides trash collection in the park. Overall, this will be a very low-maintenance facility that provides many benefits to park goers.
Will neighbors be able to reserve the pavilion?
No. While many of Austin’s large parks have picnic facilities that are able to be reserved, facilities located in neighborhood parks are intended for local use on a first-come basis.
How will the potential increase in trash be handled?
The pavilion project includes two trash receptacles to be placed near the picnic tables to handle existing and future trash. It is very easy to add more trash receptacles if needed. We will try to balance this need with the concept that more trash receptacles simply invite more trash. We want a clean park just like you!
Why were the bbq grills eliminated from the project plan?
We heard some great feedback from neighbors about the bbq grills. Having grills — while enjoyable for a cookout — might potentially create more than the usual amount of picnic trash. People would also be hauling more gear to the park, such as coolers, uncooked groceries, picnic ware, tools and utensils, etc. It also takes longer to have a cookout, versus bringing prepared food to the park, which might encourage all-day use, thereby leaving the facility unavailable to others.
Other concerns include the disposal of the charcoal ash (as it cannot be composted), burning food and old food smells, and the severe drought and fire hazard. For all these reasons, we decided to eliminate the two bbq grills from the project, believing that the enjoyment of the pavilion would not be diminished.
If people want more seating, why are there only a few picnic tables?
While the park does need additional seating options, we believe they should be more spaced out around the other amenities and not concentrated in one area. Limiting the seating helps to ensure that the park does not attract groups that are too large or who might monopolize the pavilion for a whole day, thereby leaving the facility unavailable to others.
We also wanted to leave some shaded pavilion space open for other types of group activities, which makes the pavilion a more functional multi-purpose facility.
Lastly, the heavy-duty steel picnic tables are quite expensive. Fewer tables mean we have a more manageable budget and reduces the fundraising goal.
What will prevent the pavilion from becoming a gathering place for undesirable activity?
The biggest factor in deterring undesirable park activity is neighbors actively using and patronizing their park in positive ways. Criminals don’t want to hang out at a busy park that is watched over and cared for by neighbors. The more positive park use and experiences we can create for neighbors, the more negative activity will be deterred.
The Violet Crown TAG Team is diligent in removing graffiti that is reported to them by neighbors. Removing graffiti means criminals and gangs cannot claim our park as their own territory. Brentwood Park is yours and mine, and we must claim it and care for it.
Finally, consistent reporting of suspicious activity to either 311 or 911 will help ensure that unwanted or negative park use does not go unchecked. Regular police patrols and follow up to reports sends a message that we keep an eye on our park.
Will the pavilion be lighted?
No. While this was a design option, we did not want to encourage pavilion use past the 10pm park curfew by creating a lighted facility. Justin Lane residents also preferred the pavilion not be lighted. Finally, the city did not want to absorb that cost and lighting might require more maintenance.
Why not focus on other improvements instead of the pavilion?
There is a long list of park improvements and amenities desired by residents. At this time, a park pavilion is one of the most highly supported improvements, but it is not the only project that we hope will be implemented in the park.
Two years ago, tree planting and more shade was a top priority of park users, so we pursued project partners, applied for grants and planted 115 new trees. According to the Brentwood Park Master Planning Survey, more trees continue to be a high priority for the future, as do more benches and seating.
While park stakeholder input provides guidance on which projects are most welcome by the community, no project can happen without a committed volunteer project leader and sufficient funding sources. For this reason, expensive or complex projects that are not “championed” by a volunteer leader from the community will likely not happen, regardless of community input or support.
If your question was not answered, please contact us. Thank you!