The Trail Conservancy (TTC) is a 501(C)(3) non-profit in its 19th year of working to protect, enhance and connect the Butler Hike and Bike Trail which turns 50 this year.
TTC work primarily falls into 2 buckets:
Placemaking capital projects – think Congress bridge, restrooms, water access, the Boardwalk
Conservation and land management – think invasive removals and tree plantings, shoreline restoration
TTC is privately funded by individuals, companies and foundations. Occasionally TTC will receive Parkland Dedication Funds from the city – these funds are acquired by the city from real estate developers as fees they must provide in return for their projects. These fees must be used within a specific geographic area near the development project and are restricted to construction cost.
TTC’s previous organizational model has been to identify a need on the Trail (re: a restroom) then fully fund, permit and construct the project. Upon completion TTC handed over the project to PARD to maintain and moves on to implementing another project.
TTC is currently transitioning into a “conservancy” model. In short, this means that TTC will ultimately become the primary partner and steward, responsible for operations and maintenance of the approximately 200+ acres of parkland on which the Trail sits.
In June 2022 TTC finalized negotiations and signed a Park Operations and Maintenance Agreement (POMA) with the City of Austin, formalizing this transition.This agreement outlines terms for the expanded partnership between TTC and PARD, including:
Liability – The city will maintain public liability, as the parkland will remain public property. TTC will remain liable for any issues caused by our work and/or negligence.
Land management – TTC developed a robust and detailed Operations and Maintenance Plan for day-to-day management and restoration of the parkland including elements such as plantings, mowing, tree care etc.
Programming – TTC will launch an initial and growing/expanding plan for events and programming along the Trail such as music on the Trail, family events, educational activities, and additional activations per community need and interest
TTC’s responsibility for the approximately 200 acre park will expand over 3-10 years to allow for organizational capacity and funding to expand in tandem.
NO! The Trail and the surrounding parkland belong to the City and to our community. This agreement allows us to bridge the gap between public funding and what the Trail deserves. We are phasing into our maintenance and operations role, but the City will always be the owner of the space and have operations within it. TTC will be supplementing their work and will be maintaining and operating TTC-built infrastructure.
There are no payments being made from the City to TTC. TTC’s intent with the partnership is to relieve PARD of most of the costs of maintaining and improving the Trail and adjacent parkland, so PARD can use that money somewhere else. TTC’s sole mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Trail at for the benefit of all, and 100% of the money we raise or generate is dedicated to that mission.
TTC will never close the Trail and never fully close the park. In order to generate revenue (which is restricted to funding park maintenance and operations), our agreement allows us to fence and partially close sections of the park (not more than 50% of a park feature area) so that we may host fundraising events. In 2023 we only expect 3 fenced events in the park.
We plan to launch a comprehensive signage plan in 2022 in order to identify signage needs along the Trail, including replacing the outdated mile markers that are no longer accurate due to the Holly realignment of the Trail, interpretive signage, and wayfinding signage. We will include extensive community engagement into this process as we do with all of our capital projects, and we will be working alongside PARD’s signage committee to ensure that all signage meets City requirements.