Join Us Next Week for Master Planning Workshop #2!

PARD and Norris Design have begun developing a Master Plan that will guide future development of Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields based upon your input from the previous workshop in November. Come to this second planning meeting to learn about the results from the survey and previous workshop and offer feedback on several design concepts that will be presented at the meeting.

Norris Design will make a presentation with the results and concepts, including the program for the park, such as size of playground, number of parking spaces, etc. Following the presentation there will have an open house forum similar to the first workshop, including a survey to get your feedback on the Master Plan concepts. On March 23rd the final draft of the Master Plan, including your feedback from this second input meeting, will be presented.

Please join us February 10th, 6:30-8pm at Reilly Elementary School, 405 Denson Dr, 78752. There will be a children’s table, so bring your kids and to see ideas for their future park!




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It’s My Park Day at Highland Neighborhood Park

Hi neighbors,

Friends of Highland Neighborhood Park will be leading our very first It’s My Park Day on Saturday March 5th. It’s My Park Day is a city wide volunteer event organized by the Austin Parks Foundation (APF) to improve our parks, and we are very excited to participate this year!

Volunteers needed!

Volunteers needed!

Highland Neighborhood Park is in need of a lot of TLC. The strip of heritage trees running through the center of the property is in bad shape. The Urban Forestry Department will be out in the next few weeks to trim dead wood and irregular stubs. They will also be trimming one tree in particular to clear the power line to the kickball field, but have met with us to discuss the pruning and will be taking as little as possible, with their priority being the tree. With ground compaction, pruning, and the heat in Austin, mulch makes a big difference to the health of the trees. PARD has said that we can help preserve the only natural shade on the property by mulching on It’s My Park Day.

The Forestry department has chosen 3 trees most in need, and we will be looking for 20 volunteers on March 5th for 3-4 hours sometime in the morning. In addition to volunteers we will also need 20 rakes, 20 shovels, and 10 wheel barrows. APF will lend us some tools for the day, but their supply is limited. This will be our first time to lead an event like this, so we need to get an idea of how many people are interested in participating, and how many tools people can commit to loaning for the project, even if you can’t come out yourself.

We’ll work on rounding up a coffee and breakfast donation from local businesses. Come out and join us for some fresh air, exercise, and socializing!

If you are interested in participating and/or bringing rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows, please email

Thank you,

Marla Schmitz

Friends of Highland Neighborhood Park

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Master Planning Survey Online

On Tuesday November 17th, PARD, together with consultants Norris Design and Asakura Robinson, held the first public input master planning meeting for Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields. We had a large turnout with over 50 residents of all ages. A huge thank you to all our volunteers who passed out fliers in the neighborhood to spread the word! Residents were really excited about a park in walking distance and the opportunities for this site, including increasing access using the trail along Waller Creek and 
the shady strip of trees running through the middle of the property. Special thanks to John Lawler with Councilmember Casar’s office for his attendance and interest in the project.
The chosen location – 401 W. St Johns – has been used as sports fields for several decades by the University Hills Optimists (UHO). Per the agreement between UHO and Highland, UHO will be able to continue their sports programming onsite on a 1.3 acre multi-use field that will utilize temporary fencing to allow neighborhood access when not in use by UHO. The new Highland Neighborhood Park, located centrally in Highland neighborhood, provides an amazing opportunity to have new equipment and features tailored to the wants and needs of a part of Austin severely lacking in park amenities. Everything onsite must be razed, so picture it as a blank slate and let us know what you imagine for its future!
After a presentation from Robert Deegan of Norris Designs there was an open house and short survey to understand the amenities and uses the community envisions. The slides from the presentation are available HERE. The site analysis in the presentation includes details about the trees on the property, but the legend is difficult to make out. Please note that the red circled trees are heritage trees and the blue trees are high quality trees. In the analysis you will see a large blue strip of shady high quality trees running through the center of the property between the two open fields.
This is the link to the SURVEY. PLEASE GO TO THE LINK AND FILL THE SURVEY OUT! It provides Norris Design with the information they need to create concepts for the park.
The survey closes December 6th, so, if you want your input to be a part of the new Highland Neighborhood Park, go fill it out now! 
The future meeting dates will be February 10th, 2016 and March 23, 2016, location TBD. There will be a childrens’ table at the meeting, so bring your kids and let us know what they want at the park. In February Norris design will present some different concepts based upon the survey results, which should be interesting and exciting! We’ll review and give feedback on those concepts and meet again in March to review the Draft Master Plan. When you fill out the survey you can sign up for updates. You can also subscribe to the HNA park website using tabs at the top of the page to get updates from us.
I’ll be speaking at the December HNA meeting so come to hear a little more about the current activity on site and future plans for the park, and stay to do a little shopping at the Blue Genie Arts Bazaar. The Marchesa Hall, host of our HNA meetings, holds this art bazaar which features local and regional artists with unique and amazing Christmas gifts, and we have the good fortune of being able to walk out of our meeting room straight into the free market.
See you there! (And fill out the survey!) 
Marla Schmitz
Friends of Highland Neighborhood Park
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Master Planning Meeting Tomorrow- Kids Welcome!

Tomorrow is the big day! Our first master planning meeting to give ideas on what you would like to see at the park. Norris Design’s talented staff will turn your ideas into park designs that will be refined at the February meeting.

Join us tomorrow, November 17th, 6:30pm at Reilly Elementary, 405 Denson. There will be a table with kids activities, so bring them along! I know school nights can be difficult, but we need to hear from the parents in our community, so bring your kids and just stay as long as you are able.


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Master Planning Meeting NEXT TUESDAY!

Just one week until the first of 3 master planning meetings to design our new neighborhood park! Join us Tuesday, Nov. 17th from 6:30-8 at Reilly Elementary, 405 Denson. This meeting is an amazing opportunity to give your input into an amenity that will improve the quality of life for the residents of Highland neighborhood and all of North Central Austin. We look forward to seeing you there and hearing what you envision for the future of Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields!parkflier

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Save the Date! First Master Planning Meeting November 17th

The ball is rolling for master planning Highland Neighborhood Park! Norris Design, the master planning consultant, will hold the first of three community meetings Tuesday, November 17th, 6:30-8 at Reilly Elementary. The format will be an open house with the goal of listening to what the community would like to see at the park. This meeting will be followed with another in February presenting initial concepts and getting feedback, and a final meeting in March to refine the concepts.

We will be posting here and on the listserve, Facebook, and Nextdoor closer to the meeting date. We would also like to pass out a one page meeting notification flier door to door to get as much involvement as possible from the neighborhood. If you would like to volunteer to deliver to a street in Highland please email me (Marla) at with your name, address, phone, and the street or streets you would like to deliver to. Based on newsletters it should only take no more than 20 minutes per street. We need your help in letting all our neighbors know about the meetings.

If you have a chance before the meeting, go visit the site and imagine what you would like to see. Summer has brought many wonderful changes for the park. Much of the fencing and some of the dugouts have been removed from the north field, leaving a wide open space for us to run and play, and greatly opening up the space surrounding the trees. A portable restroom has been placed on site and  PARD will be installing some picnic benches and trash receptacles. The HNA has officially adopted the park as Friends of Highland Neighborhood Park and opened an account with the Austin Parks Foundation, allowing tax free donations online or by mail.

Our very first deposit was a $2000 check courtesy of Highland resident Timothy Schwader and his company Capital CDC, a non profit which facilitates small business loans and encourages economic development. Through the City of Austin cost share program, Capital CDC’s $2000 grant will grow to $6,667, helping provide amenities at the park when master planning is completed. We are so grateful to Capital CDC for their interest and generosity!  Capital CDC Supports New Community Park. The grant was presented at the July 4th picnic, and it was quite a celebration with a keg donated by Blackstar Coop and enough free pizza to feed the whole neighborhood generously provided by Texas Pizza, Pasta, and More, located in the Highland Village.

The park is looking more and more like a neighborhood amenity, so go check it out for yourself!  This is a HUGE opportunity to build a brand new park in the urban core in an area particularly lacking in park amenities. Come out November 17th and tell us about the park of your dreams!

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Join us for the July 4th picnic and PARK GRANT presentation!

We are pleased to invite you to the annual Fourth of July Highland Neighborhood Potluck Picnic being held for the first time at the new Highland Neighborhood Park!

This will be the first of many  events to celebrate together in our new neighborhood park. This year we are excited to announce that HNA has officially adopted the park as Friends of Highland Neighborhood Park, and on July 4th Capital CDC will be presenting us with a grant for $2000! This small business loan company approached HNA wanting to  support the park and our community. According to the City’s Neighborhood Partnering Project, Capital CDC’s grant will turn into $6,667 with a City match and we will be able to start putting some amenities into the park when master planning is completed!

Please join us on July 4th to be a part of the celebration. We will have a keg of beer donated by Black Star Coop, some pulled pork tacos courtesy of your friendly HNA President Alex Schmitz, lots of lovely dishes from your fellow Highlanders, and a little amateur face painting. The picnic is from 11:30-2, we’ll start eating around noon, grant presentation at 12:30, and the firetruck will be there from 1-2. Bring a dish and a chair and come out to meet your neighbors and the folks from Capital CDC who are giving Highland Neighborhood Park its first of many grants and donations!

We are still a few months out from community involvement in the master planning project, but we know that with generous donations, like the one from Capital CDC, we are on our way to our dream park!


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Updated Park Timeline

PARD has given us an adjusted timeline that is a little delayed, but still has us starting master planning and finishing the draft this year. The timeline made it in time for the newsletters so you should be seeing the update and more on your doorstep soon. This weekend the bulldozer was delivered to the home on St Johns which will be the site of the new Highland Neighborhood Park entrance, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of the park soon!

Timeline Summary:
Fence Removal – February/March 2015 start
Home Demolition – March 2015 completion
Master Plan posting for Consultants – late-March 2015 (4 weeks)
Consultant Selection/Negotiation – May/June 2015
Start Master Planning – July 2015
Draft Master Plan – December 2015
Parks Board Review – January 2016
Report to Council – February 2016
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Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields Coming Soon!

An update is far over due, so there is much to say  . . .

  • First, our new park now has a name! January 28th the Park Board voted in favor of the name Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek FieldsWe are so grateful to the University Hills Optimist Board for speaking in favor of sharing the name of the park at the Park Board meeting. UHO really wanted the name Reznicek Park in honor of Mr Edward Reznicek’s 40+ years of service with UHO on the park site. However, in spirit of cooperation and compromise, UHO agreed to Highland Neighborhood Park and Reznicek Fields, honoring the contributions and legacy of Mr Reznicek and the residents of Highland neighborhood. We look forward to working together to build an amazing park!
  • Second, we have money for master planning! Thanks to Highland resident Robert Deegan, a landscape architect with a local firm who has helped us secure a commitment to create the master plan for a reduced fee so that more of our limited funds can go to improving our park. Council Members Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison spoke repeatedly in favor of our cause, and in the end we got even more than our ask! The City allocated $87,475 one time funds in the 2015 budget to the park, and $12,525 annually for maintenance. With these funds master planning will begin this year!
  • Third, we have a timeline for master planning. Right now PARD is finalizing the scope of the project and in the process of working on the master planning contract. During the actual planning process we expect at least 3 community meetings for people to give input on amenities and design. As we get closer to a finalized master plan we will begin working on grant writing. If you have any experience with grant writing or fundraising and want to help please contact me at . Seriously, I’ve never written a grant before. If you can help it will make a huge difference in the timeline of getting amenities at the park.
Master Planning Timeline:
Selection and Negotiation of Contract March 2015
Start Master planning process April 2015
Complete Draft Master Plan October 2015
Review- Parks Board November 2015
Send Report to Council December 2015
  • Fourth, PARD has purchased the home immediately west of the entrance to the park (highlighted in green on pic below). They will be demolishing it to open the entrance to a park, increasing safety and appeal as more of the park will be visible from the
  • Fifth, PARD is now maintaining the property outside the two kick ball fields in the southeast corner. You may enter the kickball fields, but please close the fence back because dogs cannot be on fields used for play. The baseball fields are open for use, but the fences will remain until PARD has the money to demo them. The baseball gates do not need to be closed. PARD is now emptying trash on a daily basis and mowing every 2-3 weeks.
  • Sixth, with a heavy heart we say goodbye to the park committee Vice Chair Charlotte Garza. Charlotte dedicated an enormous amount of time to this pcharlotteark since she joined the committee last June. She took time away from her family to meet with Council Members, speak at numerous Council and Board meetings, hound various City departments, organize presentations, and so much more. She was instrumental in the St Johns property becoming a park and securing the master planning funding. She has worked tirelessly for this site, and Highland Neighborhood Park exists because of her dedication, selfless donation of time, and cheerful persistence. The move is temporary, so we will look forward to celebrating her return at Highland Neighborhood Park!
  • Seventh, Richard Sommer is new Vice Chair for Highland Neighborhood Park Committee. Rich volunteered for the park committee multiple times over the last year, attending Board Meetings to support the park, and filling many, many, many map making needs for the poor committee Chair (me, Marla) who didn’t even know how to draw a radius on a map. We are so grateful to Rich for his help the past year and look forward to working with him in his new role!
  • Eighth, (very long overdue post, I know) If you would like to volunteer on the committee please contact me at Things are quiet now, but when master planning begins I am sure we will find something to do. I can personally say that the past year and half has been an amazing experience getting to know my neighbors all across Highland and seeing what can be accomplished through working with HNA and the City. If you want to have a hand in shaping a new park in central Austin and your own neighborhood I invite you to join us!

Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who has helped along the way, from speaking at Council to organizing presentations to donating money to sending an email, you made a difference! We have a park to prove it!

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By now you know what I want, more emails to City Council . . .

So they discussed our park funding in City Council today and it wasn’t great, but we are still holding out hope. Tovo introduced the item and they approved $10,000 from the general budget to provide annual maintenance on the site as it is (mow and empty trash). The 3 Million budget surplus that we were hoping to draw the rest of the money from was already allocated to other items at this point.

Here is where Laura Morrison stepped up in an attempt to save our bacon. She asked the others to go back tonight and look at the their own budget items from that 3M and find ways to shave it, just a little bit. If they can all cut just a little bit, they can redistribute funds to come up with a paltry sum of $67,575 for the park.

Below is another template urging council to make these cuts, and find the money for us in the next two days of work sessions. Let’s flood them with so much public support for this that they can’t say no. Your friends, your family, your dog, we need all of their emails! WE CAN DO THIS!!!

Thank you for your emails and dedication!
Highland Neighborhood Park Committee

Subject – Funding a Park at 401 W. St. Johns

Dear Council Members and Mayor,

Thank you for recognizing the amount of effort our neighborhood has put into getting a park at 401 W. St. Johns, and for voting to allocate funds to annual maintenance of the site.

We know that on Monday, September 8th you debated how to fund the additional $67,575 we are requesting. With that amount, we are not asking you to build this park, only that you allocate seed money for site preparation, the very necessary master plan, and fencing needs. If each of you could find $11,000 of the funds already allocated to redistribute to this effort, our hands would be untied and we would have the ability to write grants and collect donations that we can actually use toward building park amenities.
This park will benefit not only Highland neighborhood but all of North Central Austin. The site is intersected by 3 bike lanes and is within 1/2 mile of two train stations and North Lamar, one of the busiest travel corridors in Austin. With the severe lack of amenities and large amount of development in North Central Austin, this park will serve so many Austinites. We beg you to find a way to provide $67,575 for a park at 401 W. St Johns.
Thank you again for recognizing the hard work of our neighborhood and the desperate need for parkland to serve the community of North Central Austin.


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