Waterloo Greenway Conservancy is a non-profit municipal and environmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Waller Creek and the enhancement of green spaces surrounding the creek for community use. Waterloo Greenway is a 1.5-mile park system in Austin, Texas managed by Waterloo Greenway Conservancy in partnership with the City of Austin.
Project Description & History
Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, previously known as Waller Creek Conservancy, has been restoring Waller Creek and organizing community use of creekside land for over a decade. Following the establishment of the Conservancy in 2010, an international design competition for the park and creek restoration was launched- Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and Thomas Phifer and Partners’ designs were selected by the Austin City Council. To engage the community in the upcoming park initiative and the area’s cultural history, the Conservancy organized events such as the annual Pop-Up Picnic and the Creek Show, an art installation along Waller Creek that has grown over the years, attracting more than 60,000 people in 2019. Waterloo Park, the first development phase of Waterloo Greenway, opened for community use on August 1, 2021.
This innovative project seeks to highlight and preserve the natural beauty of Waller Creek, Austin’s flora and fauna, and add highly functional green space to Austin’s unique urban landscape. Native plants surround the park trail, which connects Waterloo Park to Symphony Square and Moody Amphitheater, the park destinations currently open. Three additional park destinations are slated to open in the coming years.
Waterloo Greenway is funded both privately and publicly; public funds from the City of Austin and Tax Increment Funding (TIF) are supplemented by fundraising organized by Waterloo Greenway Conservancy.
Creek restoration is an integral part of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy. To combat the environmental degradation that has resulted from intensifying development around the creek, the Conservancy is implementing restoration initiatives including vegetated graded slopes to provide habitat around the creek and control erosion and a focus on native perennial vegetation with deep roots.
Waterloo Greenway integrates art into the park design and community events. From Creek Show to the upcoming creek-themed mural from artist Arturo Herrera, the Conservancy seeks to drive community engagement in nature through art.
Waterloo Greenway Conservancy is committed to community and equity in the present and through educating the public about the history of the park land. The Conservancy acknowledges that the land where the park sits was the historic territory of the Coahuiltecans, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, and Comanche Tribes, and in the present seeks to make the park accessible and inclusive, including in employment opportunities associated with Waterloo Greenway.
In 2022, we partnered with incredible Austin non-profits and businesses to provide venue space and host programming in collaboration with over 200 organizations already doing amazing things in our community. We’re proud to bring accessible, all-levels, all-ages, and abilities activities to anyone who visits the park.
Jesús Aguirre, CEO of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy at the 2023 Center for Health and Nature Symposium