Perry Park & Friends of Perry Park
Perry Park is located at 4900 Fairview Drive, behind Highland Park Elementary. It is the only official City of Austin park within the HPWBANA boundaries. Because it is behind Highland Park Elementary, it is used frequently by children at the school, but is also enjoyed by adults and their pets. The neighborhood association and PTA uses Perry Park for various events as well, including the HPWBANA Spring Egg Hunt and Movie in Perry Park.
The park contains:
• Two large areas with playground equipment
• A soccer field and baseball field
• A kid size soccer field
• A running track (appr 2 1/4 figure 8 loops per mile)
• A large natural wooded area with trails
• Two tennis courts with lights (activated by switch on pole outside the courts, on a timer)
• A basketball hoop
• Picnic tables and drinking fountains
• A pavilion for gatherings
• Natural geological aspects (see images below)
Perry Park was once a quarry and is part of the Balcones fault zone.
It is maintained by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department with help from Highland Park Elementary. Many of the improvements over the years were initiated, funded and coordinated by interested residents. Major improvements that resulted from resident involvement and contributions include resurfacing the tennis court and installation of the running trail and an irrigation system. Much of the playground equipment was donated by the school’s PTA. This is significant because the playground area has many amenities that are not typically found at AISD schools. Some improvements were the results of hard work by local Eagle Scout candidates, including development and marking of the natural trails, installation of picnic tables, and planting of some of the trees.
Access: The parking lot for Perry Playground Park is behind Highland Park Elementary.
Friends of Perry Park (FoPP)
Who We Are
Friends of Perry Park is a collaborative effort between the community and organizations in the overall preservation and improvement of Perry Park. FoPP formed in 2005 and focuses on both the PARD and AISD areas of the park. There is a lot of community interest in the park and FoPP provides a platform to discuss and implement improvements.
Involvement includes the following groups:
• Highland Park Elementary (AISD)
• Highland Park Elementary PTA
• Interested Residents and Businesses
• City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department
To improve the overall safety, usability and quality of Perry Park through community involvement and feedback from residents, the school and PARD. Our goal is to make Perry Park a great neighborhood park.
Summary of Recent Projects at Perry Park
Non-native plant removal
There have been many large passes of non-native plant removal at Perry Park since early 2005. Huge amounts of ligustrum, bamboo, vines and dead wood were removed from the wooded area of the park and the park is much more open and groomed. Native plants are growing and sprouting up throughout the park. This has become a yearly focus by the neighborhood association to maintain the health of the Perry Park forest. The PARD forestry department started removing the larger Chinaberry trees in the spring of 2011. There will be a continued effort to remove invasive plant saplings.
Playscape Bucket Swings
In 2009 a HPWBANA Board Member worked with PARD and Austin Parks Foundation to install the two bay bucket swing set in the playscape near the tennis courts. It took a lot of time and hard work to accomplish this project.
HPWBANA 2007 Board Members took on the project of repairing the sandbox at Perry Park and upgrading it to a discovery sandbox. Dinosaur shapes were attached under the sand so kids can do a dinosaur dig right in their neighborhood park but these didn’t last long as kids dug up the parts and took them home.
In the spring of 2011 a Life Scout created new permanent dino pit forms, secured them and added a bench as an Eagle Scout project. It is now called a discovery dino pit with three distinct areas of buried dino bone forms, along with other surprises.
The tennis courts were updated with new windscreens and benches in the 2005 timeframe and new sun shelters in 2007. A more recent improvement involved repairing the tennis court entryway with new pavers and putting in a stone pathway (an Eagle Scout project). PARD has discussed resurfacing the courts.
Perry Park entrance near the tennis courts
The park entrance near the tennis courts was improved in 2007 with the planting of yaupon trees, mountain laurels and crepe myrtles. A Life Scout also installed a stone pathway in that area for the children. Large boulders replaced old wooden pylons. All these improvements soften the overall entrance welcoming visitors to the park. In 2009 the HPWBANA funded a nice trash receptacle for the court area.
A large scale tree planting was completed in the spring of 2007 at Perry Park. The trees were provided by PARD as part of their tree replacement program and Perry Park was fortunate to have made the list. The HPWBANA and HP PTA worked with PARD to identify where the trees were planted and the type. Areas include the park entrance, the quarry area, the fence near the soccer field and the sidewalk area on the Balcones side of the park. These 50-60 trees were seriously stressed during the drought/heat of 2009 and many didn’t survive.
In the winter of 2011 another park wide tree planting occurred. Hundreds of bare root saplings were provided by PARD and Treefolks. It was a great volunteer effort to help our local urban forest..
The Perry Park running track had serious erosion problems and it’s permanent repair was the focus of the HP PTA during the fall of 2006. The PTA formed a Track Committee specifically for this project with Wes Amberboy leading the effort. The repair was completed in the winter of 2007. This was a large, expensive project and many people and groups worked together to make it happen.
Background: The rock surfaced running track at Perry Park was installed in the mid 1990 by the AISD with funds from the Highland Park PTA. Most of the track is on PARD property and PARD gave permission to allow the track installation with the understanding that all maintenance and repair would be the responsibility of the AISD or the Highland Park PTA. The running track is used heavily by the school for exercise classes.
Nature Trail through the woods
The trail through the wooded area of the park which includes a nature trail was put in years ago with the help of Highland Park Elementary teachers, cub scouts and the community. Over the years it has been difficult to maintain so there has been recent activity to restore the trail system. Starting in 2005 volunteers have cleared overgrowth and removed invasive plants. In 2006, Pack 59 Cub Scouts really updated the trails by adding crushed granite to the surface. This was hard, hard work and it made a huge difference. The trail system now has a very groomed look and comes complete with native plant markers. Keeping this nature trail clear has been a yearly neighborhood task.
Perry Park has four new park benches thanks to HPWBANA and Austin Parks Foundation. Volunteers helped build the platforms and PARD installed the benches in the spring of 2006. This is in addition to five other benches that have been installed over the last several months. Here is a summary:
• Two benches were installed in the Hobby Playground area in late 2005
• Two benches were installed inside the tennis courts in 2005
• A bench near the pavilion playscape was installed early 2006
• HPWBANA and APF funded 4 benches for the quarry and woods area in 2006
Playscape near upper Soccer Field – Hobby Playground on AISD property
The Hobby Playground received a new outdoor fitness center in 2005-6 timeframe. The fitness area includes a climbing wall, three-level chin up bars and overhead bars. The fitness center was dedicated to Kristin Shelton and funded by a generous gift by her parents to the Highland Park physical education department.
In 2008 thanks to a generous donation from a neighbor the soccer field was improved. The field was leveled out, irrigation installed/fixed, and the entire area received new grass.
Old Bamboo Area behind the woods
Believe it or not, part of the Perry Park wooded area was solid bamboo. With the help of neighbors and volunteers we were successful in eradicating this bamboo grove by continually cutting it back and digging up the roots.
Old ragweed area near quarry soccer field
Ragweed in the large area near the large soccer field in the quarry was pulled up and removed. Ragweed and weeds will continue to be removed until the area fills in with Bermuda grass and native plants. This area is prone to flooding.
To volunteer or donate to the Friends of Perry Park, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org