Audubon Commission, which oversees facilities managed by Audubon Nature Institute, introduced a draft of the new Audubon Park Master Plan on May 16 at the fourth public input session for community feedback. Balance emerged as the focal point of the six-month process, based on public input and community dialog. The key areas of focus from the plan include maintaining, protecting, and preserving the landscape; embracing sustainability; and maintaining current balance with no further program expansion.
Community members and visitors to Audubon Park had multiple means of communication including 1000 surveys, 500 in-person intercepts, hundreds of comments, research and four well-attended public meetings. In some cases, community members and frequent visitors to Audubon Park sent comments and suggestions to the planners and Audubon Nature Institute via email or directly in-person.
“We were so pleased to see such incredible civic engagement during this ongoing process,” said J. Kelly Duncan, Audubon Commission President. “Through robust public meetings to the thousands of online comments, we heard loud and clear that the community cherishes Audubon Park and wants it to remain open and accessible to all – I could not agree more. This plan reinforces our commitment to maintain the equilibrium between passive greenspace and space set aside for recreation.”
Recommendations in the plan for improvements include:
1. Maintain a balance & variety of land uses
2. Lighting in well-used areas of the park
3. Enhance security during & after park hours
4. Maintain tennis, baseball, soccer, horse stables, swimming, and playgrounds
5. Stewardship of the ecology through tree management
6. Magazine Street traffic calming and pedestrian/ bicycle crossings
7. Riverview pedestrian circulation and traffic congestion
8. Improve drainage in sensitive areas using “green” infrastructure
9. Improve architectural features in the park including Hurst Bridge, Shelter 13, and Hyams Fountain
10. Comprehensive water management plan
11. Signage and wayfinding
12. Strategic future acquisitions
Audubon Nature Institute recently launched a campaign to grow endowment funds dedicated to Audubon Park for improvements. Audubon Park currently receives no dedicated city funds for operations and is not included in the millage that supports Audubon Zoo, so endowed funds are a reliable source for ongoing operations.
While comments are welcome on both the Zoo and the golf course, the Master Plan focuses on Audubon Park because uses of these areas are well-established and are not targeted for change during this plan period. Because state capital outlay dollars have been invested in both the golf course and in major Zoo projects, Audubon is bound by state requirements that those projects are expected to last at least 20 years. Audubon Zoo, whose capital priorities are guided by global conservation needs and industry best practices, is recognized as a world-class facility. Audubon Golf Course is an award-winning course that adds tremendous aesthetic value to the park through its undulating greens, live oaks, lagoons and landscaping.
Audubon will continue to welcome public input on the Audubon Park Master Plan through the Audubon Commission meeting scheduled for June 27, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at Audubon Tea Room. The Commission is planning additional public meetings for items that need more conversation including Shelter 13 and Audubon Tennis Courts.
For more information, please visit AudubonParkMasterPlan.org