With vegetation, a natural creek bed, seclusion, and rolling hills, Waterloo Park has the “right stuff” to be the best park in Austin. Flanked on the east and west by Red River Street and
San Jacinto Blvd Trinity, respectively, Waterloo Park’s configuration runs north-south length wise between 15th and 12th streets, as Waller Creek meanders through it.
A couple weekends ago, we wanted to check out the “Birth of Cool” exhibit at the Blanton museum, and we decided to walk from our building (Sabine) along Waller Creek through Waterloo Park.
As we walked through Waterloo Park, we were overtaken with its beauty but disappointed in its care. We found a littered creek, overgrown vegetation, and hazardous pathways. One unmarked sinkhole in the middle of the pathway would have seriously injured anyone who didn’t notice it – easily three feet deep.
With all of its innate beauty, Waterloo Park is analogous to a gifted MVP baseball player, who somehow gets stuck playing for a losing team.
Waterloo Park sits underutilized inside an industrial zone of competing real estate interests: Travis County, State of Texas, University of Texas, and Brackenridge Hospital.
Tough location, eh?
Hospital parking garages to the east. State of Texas parking garages to the west. Social services and more parking garages to the north. The neighborhood and urban fabric breaks down north of 11th Street. Lack of coordination by the major real estate holders yields nothing of significant neighborhood value to draw a critical mass of pedestrians.
Waterloo Park is a great example of the results of poor urban planning and stakeholder coordination – the park is surrounded with parking garages (blight), is not integrated into the fabric of our neighborhood, and is often inhabited with drug addicts, drunks, and panhandlers. As such, it remains a destination that few people care to visit.