Austin Parks Foundation's It's My Park Day Spring - A Morning of Reuniting Friends of Parque Zaragoza / Amigos de Parque Zaragoza
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
This Austin Parks Foundation’s City-wide It’s My Park Day Spring 2020 for Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park really transformed into a truly special occasion as some of Parque Zaragoza's longest neighborhood park advocates and organizers attended and reminisced about the park, shared their stories and its history which dates back over 90 years.
For the morning's setup and gathering I deliberately picked the swimming pool and old recreation center/caretaker cottage location I now refer to as 'the heart of our park' because for at least 65 years up until 1996 all the community's activities and traffic flowed in and out from here.
We enjoyed breakfast tacos from Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop (a local business supporter of the park for decades) and discussed some shared goals for Parque Zaragoza's future including the next ACL Festival grant application for adding a new amenity to the park as well as historical preservation grant application opportunities. We also are aiming to bring back some older neighborhood park traditions too.
A heartfelt thank you to Austin Parks Foundation, City of Austin Parks and Recreations Department and the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center team for their ongoing support through facilitating our events. But especially all who made it including returning volunteers from our previous It's My Park Day, Fall and also City Council Member Pio Renteria, his wife Lori and our District 3 first dog, Hija (Spanish for daughter).
I'm truly grateful and blessed that by learning about the history of this neighborhood park and its surrounding community who cares about it, I have found my own extended East Austin familia / family.
"Parks and Playgrounds are the soul of a city." - Marty Rubin
Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park Recipient of an ACL Music Festival Parks Improvements Community Grant; Funds to improve public health and usability
We are honored to announce that Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park is an Austin Parks Foundation ACL Music Festival Parks Improvements Community Grant recipient of $50,000 for the park's 'Historic Pool' to receive canopy shade installations.
Built in 1933 during the Great Depression and beginning of the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park’s Pool is one of the City of Austin’s earliest man-made pools. At the time of the pool’s construction, the accompanying bathhouse/caretakers cottage was built, and was then expanded by the National Youth Association and community volunteers in 1941 to become a two-room recreation center, used until 1996.
Though Parque Zaragoza is known for its heritage Oak Trees, shading around the Pool area is almost nonexistent. This much needed park improvement will help protect the community-stakeholders, including Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center Summer Camp children and Aquatics staff, from life-threatening and other sun exposure health risks. Such risks from the sun and UV radiation exposure include Skin Cancer, Immune Suppression, Eye Damage, such as Cataracts and premature aging.
Parque Zaragoza is one of five community grants totaling $199,000 that the Austin Parks Foundation is giving for parks and green spaces this 2019 fall cycle. The others are:
About Austin Parks Foundations Grants Program
Austin Parks Foundation’s ACL Music Festival Park Grants Program, Community Grants are intended for larger community-initiated physical park improvement projects that require between $5,000 and $50,000 in funding like signage installations, trail building and planning, physical improvement, and park maintenance. The grants have been awarded since 2006 but became offered twice a year in 2017. Since inception, APF has donated over $3 million to Austin’s park system through our Park Grants Program.
By Jackson Papillon, Chief Scoop Blogger, #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
In East Austin we have a park that knows all the old families of our community for she was the first before all others, making this park one of the ‘mothers’ to the others in our neighborhood. Zaragoza Park, or as she prefers, Park ‘Z’, has been giving her unconditional love through the decades from the late 1920s until the present.
And like all ‘Giving Mothers’, Z was hostess through the ages for many of our community’s fiestas, holiday and special celebrations. Always available for every occasion. As a ‘Hostess with the Most-ess’, many recall her two and three-day fiestas, community Thanksgiving celebrations, annual neighborhood reunions, amateur league baseball and softball tournaments, summer days swimming and nights dancing to Tejano and Conjunto music performed on the bandstand.
A very proud mother, she remembers all who have come to visit her, to climb her trees, run and roll on her grass, swing and play on her playground, walk or bike her trails, swim in her pool, play basketball or baseball, BBQ and picnic, perform on her bandstand or simply escape rest in her shade.
If you listen very carefully at dusk and at dawn, you can hear through the rustling leaves in the wind, birds singing and crickets chirping a Z singing the praises of all the names of our community’s families whose hearts and feet have touched her.
Return home to Mother Park Z and show her a little TLC this It’s My Park Day. Register via GivePulse here: https://givepul.se/ypka00
Jen Massing Harris, President, Co-organizer, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Assn. & Park Group
Jen Massing Harris, PZNA Neighborhood Nose Contributor
Found this historic photograph of our Parque Zaragoza neighborhood and park.
Photograph of Fiesta Patrias, the group who planned patriotic activities for Parque Zaragoza. Seated L to R: Macrino Ortiz, Ignacio Orriaga, Frank Morales, Ignacio Acosta. Standing L to R: Pedro Cortez, Severino Guerra, Frank Prado. Comite Patriotico Mexicano at Parque Zaragoza, photograph, 1930~; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth124550/m1/1/: accessed May 5, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Though this holiday isn't widely celebrated in Mexico, it dates back in the United States to 1863 originating from California to celebrate Mexican American culture and educate first generation Mexican American youth about their history and has spread across the globe and is now celebrated in several countries.
On June 7, 2005, the United States Congress issued a concurrent resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Many mistaken Cinco de Mayo for the Mexican Independence Day which is The Cry of Dolores or Grito de Dolores on September 16th.
Photographed are some of the original East Austin Fiesta planners! Happy Cinco de Mayo All!
Founded 90 Years Earlier By Community Advocacy, East Austin’s Parque Zaragoza Park Turns A New Page By Repeating History
Jen Massing Harris, PZNA Neighborhood Nose Contributor
Though Parque Zaragoza was officially founded in 1931 when the City of Austin purchased 9.3 acres of land, it was in 1929 when the local hispanic community petitioned the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department for a park of their own.
In learning more about our community park's history, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association follows a very long line of Community Advocates:
🦋1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] - advocate for employment, civil rights, and better education for Hispanic citizens
🦋1931, Zaragosa Park Board - 1st Members: Severino Guerra, Amador Candelas, and Miguel Guerrero
🦋1931, Mexican baseball league - before play field, teams played on a concrete slab with the bases painted onto the concrete.
🦋1932, Comites Patrióticos, Austin Branch - to promote Mexican patriotism and foster good relations between the two nations, largely through the celebrations of the #fiestas #CincodeMayo and Diez y Seis. First President was Amador Candelas.
🦋1933, Bathhouse and Pool built.
🦋1941, National Youth Administration, built on Bathhouse a community recreation center.
🦋1956, the Community starts Sunday afternoon baseball games and improves baseball field with wooden fence and bleachers in current baseball field location today.
🦋1981, The Zaragosa Recreation Center Advisory Board established petitioned for a new recreation center.
🦋1980's: City of Austin increases acreage of park
🦋1988, City renamed to reflect the proper spelling of Zaragoza.
🦋1996, #CityofAustin opens today's Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center on Cinco de Mayo.
🦋2017, Austin Parks Foundation awards $50,000 for Parque Zaragoza play field and park improvements.
🦋2017, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park was designated a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS)
🦋2018, #ParqueZaragoza receives Ga Ga Pit thanks to City of Austin voters, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Disney and the National Recreation and Park Association.
🦋2018 Park receives new playscape and play field improvements with help of Austin Parks Foundation, St. David's Foundation, RBI Austin, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
There's still a lot of history missing from above. I hope to learn more. But I also hope that we as a community today can band together to make new park and shared public places improvements. This East Austin neighborhood's legacy shows us the roadmap and raises the bar for what we can next do.🦋💚💃👨👩👧👧🌳🌺🌈
East Austin Kids Activities Confirmed for Parque Zaragoza's Ribbon Cutting Celebration on April 27th
By Jackson Papillon, Chief Scoop Blogger, #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
Join Austin Parks Foundation, Austin Parks and Recreation, St. David’s Foundation, RBI Austin, and the City of Austin in celebration of the new Playground and Field Improvements at Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park.
Confirmed activities include:
🎉Austin Public Library Bookmobile
🎉Austin Police Department Bike Raffle - 6 bicycles
(2 small girls, 2 small boys & 2 middle school age)
🎉Large Checkerboard Station
🎉Bean Bag Toss Station
🎉Clay Seedball Making Station
🎉Little Hummingbird Society Introduction Station
Breakfast tacos from El Chilito, Starbucks coffee and pastries from Joe's Bakery & Coffee Shop will be served at 10:00 AM.
The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be between 10:20-10:30am. Speakers include: City of Austin Parks and Recreation, City of Austin, Austin Parks Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, RBI Austin and the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association.
We hope to see you there at 10:00 AM! 🎀
By Jen Massing Harris, Co-Founder/President, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association
PZNA’s East Austin Community Outreach survey reveals neighborhood pride, love of parks and social good rank top for desired community activities
A resounding majority of survey participants, 72.73% to be exact, who participated in the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association’s [PZNA] Neighborhood and Parks Community Survey, agree that the future is very promising for their neighborhood. Last year, from July through November (2018), the PZNA conducted an open neighborhood and parks survey so that the organization could better assess which activities and issues were most on the minds of community stakeholders*.
A whopping 95.46% of respondents have ‘eastside pride’, 73.92% love City of Austin Parks and 90% want activities that brings the community together for fun or social good.
When asked “Q4: What types of community activities would you participate in if they were available in this neighborhood?” some 75% of respondents say they want to engage in park related activities, including cleanups, picnics, stage programing, dog meetups and gardening. Other activities by popularity included: 30% are interested in block parties while a three-way tie for 15% want exercise or sports; volunteering with kids and seniors; or festivals, fairs and street parties. Note participants were allowed to select multiple answers.
These park activities ranked as the Top 10 when asked about what would bring people to the park. This information helps the PZNA plan future community events or identify park improvements for grant applications.
Survey also shines spotlight on City’s rapid growing pains when participants asked about sense of community, public safety and neighborhood upkeep around East 7th Street
Though 73.91% answered in the range of ‘Very Satisfied’ to ‘Extremely Satisfied’ when asked “Q14: How satisfied are you with your experience living in this neighborhood?” the survey also reveals room for improvements too. For example, for “Q5: How strong is the sense of community in this neighborhood?” the combined result from respondents for ‘A Little Strong’ and ‘Somewhat Strong’ totaled 77.28%. As the survey asked deeper questions, respondents weigh in with their reasons for this.
For starters, gentrification, public safety, construction ‘noise pollution’ and homelessness are the top things that respondents dislike the most when asked “Q16: What do you like least about this neighborhood?” It should be noted this question allowed for a ‘fill in the blank’ answer.
Some 38% had answers related to gentrification, even though 65.21% had lived in the East Austin area for less than 10 years. Not too far off, public safety and crime ranked 29%. Related to Austin’s growing pains or gentrification, new construction’s noise pollution ranked third at 24%. Homelessness, at 19%, came in 4th. In total there were 21 different answers, two skipped this question.
Respondents put park activities again at the top (32%) with “Q17: What changes would most improve the neighborhood?” A surprising second was ‘older home restoration’ (21%). It should be noted this question was also a ‘fill in the blank.’ Several respondents suggested restoring older homes and not demolishing them. Finally, there was a third place three-way tie around public safety issues with: increase in police resources, park lighting and improve East 7th Street appearance maintenance and create better commercial influx (11%).
Asked “Q9:How satisfied are you overall with Parque Zaragoza - the park and facilities itself, recreation center and baseball field activities?” 42.86% of respondents said they are satisfied with another 9.52% very satisfied.
Asked “Q10: How well are the streets in this neighborhood cleaned and maintained?” the respondents included ‘Not well at all’ to ‘Not so well’ with a combined total of 52.17% and ‘Somewhat Well’ to ‘Very Well’ with a combined total of 47.83%.
Asked “Q11: Overall, how safe do you feel in this neighborhood?” respondents answered ‘Little Safe’ to ‘Somewhat Safe’ with a combined 60.87%, compared to ‘Very Safe’ to ‘Extremely Safe’ with just 39.13%.
Luckily for the City of Austin, this survey reveals a community eager to get involved, volunteer, get engaged and have neighborhood fun. However, most survey participants say they want to get involved but are not currently doing so. For question “Q2: How often do you participate in community activities in this neighborhood?” ‘Not so often’ to ‘Not at all’ combined took the lead at 69.57%.
The primary reason for this contradiction is revealed in “Q3: If you do not participate in community activities in this neighborhood, why not?” Some 69% who answered stated they didn’t know how to find out about neighborhood activities.
So, relatedly the PZNA has recently created a new Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Discussion Board on Facebook so that residents and people working in the community can share information and better inform each other. This new group allows people in the community a way to meet and to organize with others. You don’t have to be a member of the PZNA but must live or work within the association’s boundaries to join.
Fortunately, the survey takeaways are bright for the PZNA. The community’s desire to engage in more interactive activities and events is a great start to gaining a stronger sense of community. The neighborhood pride is already strong. With popular support for activities that will bring the community together – including park clean ups, picnics, festivals, block parties and park stage programming through the arts – the PZNA has no doubt that a safer and stronger community will result.
* About the Survey Methodology:
The survey was announced to the community through multiple in-person and digital methods, including reminders at all 2018 meetings and inclusion in member emails. The PZNA reached out to the greater community using multiple social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor. In total there were 23 participants from July through November 2018.
While the survey sampling provides valuable insights, it should be noted that based on “Q19: How long have you lived in the neighborhood?” the responses highlighted a split between native/more than five years (totaling 34.79%) and more recently relocated residents (totaling 65.21%). The PZNA believes both senior and multigenerational community stakeholders did not substantially participate in the survey and therefore are not well represented in these findings. This is surprising as gentrification and development – generally considered as hot issues only among long time residents – was mentioned multiple times by those who did respond. To request a complete copy of the Parque Zaragoza & Neighborhood Community Survey PDF, email.
About The PZNA
Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association (PZNA) – A voice for the East Austin Parque Zaragoza Community
The PZNA focuses on community engagement, public safety, historical preservation, sustainable growth and urban wildlife conservation. The guiding belief of the PZNA is that the combination of neighborhood heritage and smart, sustainable, respectful development is required to provide a safe and rewarding environment that can be enjoyed by all community stakeholders. Free to join the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association visit the website and complete membership form www.zaragozaparkneighborhoodassn.org.
By PZNA's Neighborhood Nose's Chief Scoop Blogger
It is a common myth to believe that Poverty or Homelessness only effects 'other' people, you know, the mentally ill, drug addicts, lazy bums or ex-convicts that no one will hire. This makes it easy to not identify with a rising population of people who many were just like you, but had some bad luck. Yes, bad things do happen to good people too.
You only have to think back to November 2018, when the Nation witnessed all the residents of Paradise, California lose their homes to a wildfire. And here closer to home, at least 55,000 Texas residents are still displaced from of Hurricane Harvey which happened in 2017.
15% of all American families in homes struggle each year to provide coats for their families because it's a budget 'extra' out of reach. In other words, one in five children lives in poverty.
In fact, recent studies suggest that the average American is serving paycheck to paycheck and is only one tragic event from going under not able to put money into savings. What could that unfortunate event be for you? a car accident, a six week flu that forces you to lose work, made redundant from the start-up you moved to Austin for because it ran out money before it took off?
Winters are getting longer and colder. Even a 2-degree drop in body temperature results in reduced heart rate, loss of coordination, and confusion. And life threatening Hypothermia can set in when temperatures are between 32F and 50F.
Austinites - Do you have coats in your closet you no longer wear? Help our One Warm Coat drive which starts tomorrow, January 28th through February 18th. Drop-off your gently worn coat, hat, scarf or pair of gloves to 1 of the 3 collection locations: Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, South Austin Recreation Center or Turner-Roberts Recreation Center. Learn more here: http://www.zaragozaparkneighborhoodassn.org/coat-drive.html
By Chief Scoop Blogger
About the PZNA's East Austin Coat Drive - Spreading Warmth
The Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association (PZNA)’s East Austin Coat Drive – Spreading Warmth’s mission is to provide new or like-new coats, gloves, scarfs and hats during Austin’s winter months to youth and adult homeless shelters, women and children's domestic abuse safe houses and/or anyone in need.
In recent years, Austin has been experiencing longer and colder winters. Life threatening Hypothermia can set in when temperatures are between 32F and 50F. But this is only one of many health risks that occur when exposed to cold weather over long periods of time.
The City of Austin is working to end homelessness and get people living on the streets into housing with the health and human services required to help them remain off the streets. However, this this is not an easy fix, and will take time with projects being phased in over the next several years.
Homelessness has no discretion. In November 2018, the Nation witnessed all the residents of Paradise, California lose their homes and all of their belongings in one of the worst wildfires the State of California has experienced to date. Closer to home, at least 55,000 residents in Texas are still displaced because of Hurricane Harvey.
Fortunately, through One Warm Coat, PZNA members and friends can take actions to make measurable differences to help men, women and children of all ages by simply searching through our closets for that coat that no longer fits or our dresser drawers to find a forgotten pair of gloves, a scarf or hat. .
Together, our East Austin community can spread warmth to our most vulnerable members in need. Let’s ensure that everyone in our community is healthy and warm. Drop-off your like-new coat, hat, scarf or pair of gloves to one of the three locations to be announced prior to drive kickoff on January 28th. Note that each location has different operation hours of business.
All coats will go to East Austin shelters and those in need for free including:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer or have questions.
Chief Scoop Blogger
I'm Jackson Papillon, an East Austin Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood [#PZNA] Canine. I have a good nose for news and will cover two regular beats: