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AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) – Parks officials and Austin city leaders gathered at the Onion Creek Metropolitan Park Sunday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony unveiling the new Yarrabee Bend. The new part of the park features nearly 190 acres of natural parkland and recreational space for all to enjoy.
On Saturday Tom Herrera joined dozens of people for the unveiling.
Herrera has already utilized the park and says he looks forward to taking his morning strolls on the graveled paths. “I really think those benches that were put in here are just great because when you’re walking you need to a place to rest. They’re great they look nice they look like they’re going to last a long time and survive a future flood,” said Herrera.
Austin city officials along with U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett attended the ribbon-cutting. “The park now is officially open for public use and a great place for people that find Zilker Park crowded to come out and try a new one,” said Rep. Doggett.
The area is part of the Onion Creek Metropolitan Park and features 190 acres of parkland converted to its natural state and 100 acres designated for recreation.
“This area will have parties, picnics, and all sorts of gatherings,” said Rep. Doggett.
It also includes 30 pavilions, a large gathering pavilion, and a number of picnic tables and grills. However, Herrera says the area wasn’t always a place of absolute stillness.
He says at one point hundreds of people called this home.
“Many of the mobile homes began to flood and every time we had the flood the water would go higher and many homes were affected,” said Herrera.
Throughout the years, storms have destroyed homes and forced residents living along floodways and floodplains to move. “The aftermath was horrible,” said Herrera.
Back in 2013, rescues were rampant after rain came pouring in causing major flooding.
Several people and animals lost their lives.
The city has spent millions of dollars buying out homes and properties near Onion Creek. “When we first moved in there were more homes still not a full neighborhood,” said Amanda McCann.
The southeast Austin neighborhoods were later turned into a park to reduce the flood risk.
“Super awesome spot for it. I can’t think of a better way for them to have used it.” Herrera says the walk through memory lane will always remind him of what once was but says he will enjoy the new as well. “Some of the beauty has to be preserved,” said Herrera.
This area will join the additional 400 acres under development to the south as part of the Onion Creek Metropolitan Park.