Tucked away in East Austin is a rare thing – a piece of undeveloped land, complete with panoramic views of the city that surrounds it.
For years, residents of the nearby Springdale-Airport and Hog Pen neighborhoods have been pushing for it be cleaned up (part of it had been used an illegal dump site) and turned into an official nature preserve.
Now the issue has finally come to a head. City Council will likely be discussing the future of this piece of land, known as Red Bluff, at a Council meeting at the end of the month.
But first, a little background…
Led by the Springdale-Airport and Hog Pen neighborhood associations, the Sierra Club, Pete Rivera (president of the Springdale-Airport Neighborhood Association), Ali Ronder (president of the Hog Pen Neighborhood Association), and many others, the push to turn Red Bluff into an official piece of parkland has been going on for many years. At first, Pete began leading nature hikes and inviting people from throughout Austin to see Red Bluff in person and recognize its beauty and potential. The land has been owned by several different city departments and had suffered from years of neglect.
Eventually this coalition of neighborhood associations and environmental activists were able to lead the effort to get city boards and commissions, as well as City Council, to pass several resolutions in support of the preservation of Red Bluff.
So what’s happening now?
City Council will likely take up this issue at its April 25th meeting, where it will discuss whether or not affordable housing should be built at the Red Bluff site as well. In an interview with the Austin EcoNetwork, Ali explained that while they support affordable housing, the neighbors and activists who have been pushing to save Red Bluff do not want it be developed.
“To be clear, we the residents also support affordable housing. We support a future that is healthy and sustainable for all residents…We urge the City Council to seek alternative sites within Districts 1 and 3, as well as consider sites in city districts outside of East Austin. In the same breath, we encourage the City Council and residents across the city of Austin to explore the stunning beauty and appreciate the precious vulnerability of the Red Bluff green space.
We are unified to save Red Bluff and will not allow City politics to pit housing against parkland and divide us. They are separate issues and we will treat them as such. ” – A letter from Springdale-Airport, Hogpen, and East MLK communities in response to proposals to develop the Red Bluff tracts of land in East Austin and turn portions of them into housing developments.
In her AEN interview, Ali expanded upon this, explaining that preserving such a beautiful piece of parkland in its entirety is critically important, especially in a part of town that has very little access to green space.
How to get involved
If you’re interested in learning more about Red Bluff and its future, here’s what you can do:
- Attend a Tree Mapping event at Red Bluff with Keep Austin Beautiful and Creative Action – Friday, April 12th from 10am to 1pm at the 5900 block of Harold Court
- Attend the “Save Red Bluff Community Dialogue” event at the Earth Day ATX festival – Saturday, April 13th from 1:30pm to 2:30pm at Huston-Tillotson University (inside the Changemaker Cafe and Bookstore)
- Read this public letter the from the Springdale-Airport, Hog Pen, and East MLK communities posted on ActionNetwork.org
- Attend the “Hands Off Red Bluff” party at Austin City Hall on April 25th at noon