Parks and Recreation

Message from the Director
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) operates a rich, extensively diverse parks system that provides leisure and recreational opportunities for thousands of community members and visitors daily. Our scope of services includes a vast array of community recreational and cultural services, golf courses, facility and park maintenance, and planning and development projects. With a mission to provide, protect, and preserve a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural, and outdoor experiences for the Austin community, PARD manages more than 20,000 acres of land. This vast portfolio contains 200 miles of trails, five public cemeteries, 15 nature preserves, 39 greenbelts, and six public golf courses. Our facilities include 20 recreation centers, three senior activity centers, Old Bakery and Emporium, 52 public pool facilities, and PARD’s many museums, arts centers, cultural centers, and the Austin Science and Nature Center. 
In addition, PARD provided an expanded role in the community supporting emergency operations during the wide spread floods of 2013 and 2015. We continue to work diligently to provide our community with a balanced, sustainable and value-focused parks and recreation system that creates a sense of community. We also work in collaboration with our stakeholders to continue to develop additional parks, enhance recreational and cultural facilities and programs to meet the needs of our vibrant, growing diverse community.
 Although Fiscal Year 2014-15 brought about many challenges due to widespread flooding and the impacts of ongoing drought in the Central Texas Region, our Department is proud of our many accomplishments, awards, and recognitions.
National Recognitions:
  • Tree City USA Award
  • National Wildlife Federation’s #1 City for Wildlife
  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Out-of-School Time Grant Recipient
  • American Planning Association-Texas Chapter 2015 Project Planning Award for Pease Park Master Plan
  • Good Morning America “Lifeguard Surf & Turf” Competition Finalists
State and Local Recognitions:
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant for Waterloo Park
  • Texas Recreation & Park Society Lone Star Legacy Park Designation for Pease Park
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife CO-OP Grant Recipient
  • Austin Family Magazine 2015 Readers Poll “Favorite Nature Camp”
  • Austin Critics Table Award for Group Gallery Exhibition
  • Austin Chronicle “Best of” Awards Readers Poll: Best Swimming (Barton Springs Pool) and Best Festival (Austin City Limits)
 Every day, we work to make Austin the most livable and best managed city in the nation; below are examples of how we achieved this standard of excellence in Fiscal Year 2014-15:
  • Our Park Quality Rating from the Trust for Public Land ParkScore is up from 49 to 57.5 out of a score of 100;
  • Nature-based programs experienced an increase in the percent of participants reporting an improvement to their quality of life from 93% last year to 97%;
  • Our number of Park Ranger safety contacts with patrons increased from 2,441 to 2,954;
  • This year, 93% of cultural arts participants reported an increase in their knowledge and understanding of culture, history, and art; and
  • We doubled our number of newly developed public/private partnerships from 6 to 10.
 While we are pleased with these results, this does not mean we are completely satisfied. We will continue to work toward increased citizen satisfaction in order to retain and improve upon being ranked one of the top two cities nationally and raise our ParkScore into the top 25 nationwide. By combining new, innovative, and creative ways of conducting business with tried and true methods, we will continue our success in managing the public’s resources responsibly, being good stewards of our natural and built assets while operating with the utmost integrity and ethics.
Sara L. Hensley, CPRP
City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15