Major changes are coming to Auditorium Shores. The 17-acre off leash area will soon shrink to four to make way for a new event lawn. This is all pending City Council approval on Thursday. Now, the Parks and Recreation Department has come up with a modified plan.
Eight-month-old husky Lola loves the cold weather.
"I've quickly learned that this is her favorite place to come run," said owner Lain Denham.
Lola and her owner Lain Denham are new to Austin. Just as they got used to enjoying the off leash space for dogs at Auditorium Shores, much of it will soon be gone.
"It's unfortunate," Denham said.
The change is part of the Auditorium Shores Improvement Project.
The current plan splits the park into three sections: an off leash area of 3.25 acres, an on leash area and a new event lawn where no dogs are allowed.
On Monday, Parks and Recreation officials showed us a modified plan. After listening to the concerns of those against the project, a concrete walkway was removed to make the off leash area more open. The space was then increased by an additional 1.45 acres.
The Parks and Recreation Board will vote on the modified plan on Tuesday. The results will then go before council on Thursday.
Austin Parks and Recreation Project Management Supervisor Marty Stump says the goal is to create a more inclusive space that everyone can enjoy.
"Some folks shy away because they're uncomfortable with or have had bad past experience with a dog," Stump said. "The other issues is the trail and trail users. That's a huge number of users, over a million folks per year, and the presence of dogs in the current condition have caused some folks to shy away from that portion of the trail."
Stump also says safety was a concern along the hike and bike trail.
"We've had accidents over time where dogs have run into bicyclists and pedestrians," he said.
The new plans call for the trail to be re-routed.
Andrea Day-Boykin is part of a last ditch effort--lead by the group of Friends of Austin Dog Parks--to make sure dog owners have a dog in this fight.
Day Boykin says the modified plan isn't enough, "The middle lawn and then the part they were designating the leash free area, we were thinking why can't we have all of that."
She is passing out save Auditorium Shores cards. Signs are also posted to get those concerned to attend the meeting Tuesday.
In the meantime dogs and dog lovers will enjoy this space while they can.
The project has been in the works for 14 years, but was only recently made possible through a $3.5 million dollar donation from C3 presents.
All concerts and events have been postponed for all of 2014 to allow for construction. That is set to start later this month.