Moody Foundation gives $9.7 million gift to enhance Pease Park

Family charity gets the ball really rolling for the Pease Park Conservancy.


Highlights

Official: “The gift is absolutely the most transformative thing that’s happened at Pease Park since 1875.”

“It is truly is the ‘people’s park,’ a place for day-to-day enjoyment and respite,” Moody Foundation trustee says.

The Moody Foundation is donating $9.7 million to the Pease Park Conservancy to overhaul the Kingsbury Commons area alongside Shoal Creek at the southern end of Pease Park.

“The gift is absolutely the most transformative thing that’s happened at Pease Park since 1875 when Gov. and Mrs. E.M. Pease donated 23 acres of their land to the city of Austin for use as a public park,” said Andy Gill, outgoing executive director of the conservancy, a nonprofit that pushes enhancements to one of the city’s oldest parks. “Since that time, others like (civic leader) Janet Fish have shown great commitment to improving the space. The generosity of the Moody Foundation pays tribute to their legacy and allows Pease to live up to its amazing potential.”

Kingsbury Commons is a popular gathering spot near Kingsbury Street and Parkway within an interconnected network of green spaces that includes Pease Park and the Shoal Creek Greenbelt network. The network fills 84 acres along the western edge of North Lamar Boulevard.

While commuters stuck on Lamar from West 15th Street to West 34th Street might be most familiar with the volleyball sand courts or the dog park, the extended green space includes all sorts of trails, springs, cliffs, wooded areas, historical sites and a recreational lawn best known for Eeyore’s Birthday Party, an almost sacred Austin rite of spring.

A Pease Park Master Plan, put together with the help of Clayton & Little Architects at the behest of the conservancy, formed in 2008 and was adopted by the Austin City Council in 2014. That plan includes new trails, more trees and picnic shelters.

A restoration project along the creek’s banks was also started in 2014. The conservancy will select a design firm to execute the master plan in the next months.

The gift from the Moody Foundation, which recently gave $15 million to help the Waller Creek Conservancy’s plans to transform Waterloo Park and add an amphitheater, will help launch a capital campaign for additional funds.

Projects within Kingsbury Commons, to be executed in partnership with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, will include increased accessibility and an improved experience at the entrance of the park. More children’s play features — including nature-based playscapes, a new water feature and a treehouse — will be added.

Also high on the agenda is an enhanced role for the whimsical 1920s Tudor Cottage as a space to accommodate birthday parties, family reunions and other activities, as well as the addition of a stone terrace to the north of the cottage. Perhaps the biggest departure will be a new multiuse facility, the Kingsbury Pavilion, to be built immediately north of the Tudor Cottage and to serve as an additional area for community activities, with modern bathrooms and new picnic facilities.

“Pease Park is a beautiful and very treasured asset for the city of Austin,” said Ross Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation and president and CEO of National Western Life Insurance Company. “It is truly is the ‘people’s park,’ a place for day-to-day enjoyment and respite, and this gift complements the Moody Foundation’s efforts to enhance parks and green spaces across Austin.”

According to its website, the Moody Foundation was established in 1942 by William L. Moody and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody. It has donated more than $1.4 billion in grants across the state “to build a bigger, better Texas.”

Conservancy director Gill said, “I think the Pease family — all who have cared for Pease Park over the past 142 years — and everyone who will use it in the future will enjoy the park’s new life thanks to the opportunity the Moody Foundation has provided.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Traffic report for May 21, 2018

Interstate 35 (Hays County): Reduced to one southbound lane between FM 2001 and RM 150 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights. Interstate 35 (Travis County): The left lane on the southbound access road will be closed between Blackson Avenue and St. Johns Avenue until 9 p.m. July 5. The southbound two right lanes will be closed between...
Party boat company returns to Lake Austin dock after legal cease-fire
Party boat company returns to Lake Austin dock after legal cease-fire

At least one Lake Austin party boat company will be able to pick up passengers off of Lake Austin Boulevard this summer, after a reprieve in the legal tussle over the use of a public dock there. Austin Party Cruises sued the city of Austin and Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley in January after the parks department declined...
PolitiFact: In governor’s race, abortion divides Democrats
PolitiFact: In governor’s race, abortion divides Democrats

Houston investor Andrew White says he’ll protect abortion rights if elected governor despite personally believing abortion to be wrong. During the debate for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor, White declared that a national abortion rights leader, Cecile Richards, said there’s room for people like him in “her movement.&rdquo...
Southern Methodist University removes cultural survey from public view
Southern Methodist University removes cultural survey from public view

Southern Methodist University distributed a survey last fall that asked students to rate how much they wanted answers to such questions as “Why are black people so loud?” and “Do black people hate America?” The survey, distributed by SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative and posted online, was taken down Thursday after...
Cedar Park police, detective arrested wrong Nathan Cook, lawsuit says
Cedar Park police, detective arrested wrong Nathan Cook, lawsuit says

An Austin man is suing Cedar Park and one of its police detectives over a case of mistaken identity, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week. Nathan A. Cook was arrested on a charge of felony theft of services, and escorted out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in August, according to the lawsuit. It names the city of Cedar Park and...
More Stories