The Pease Park Conservancy has been hard at work now for four years trying to bring this special place in our neighborhood back from the brink. It has achieved a lot in that time, including 462 new shade trees, an automated irrigation system, a repaired Tudor cottage and restored retaining walls, entrance arches and picnic tables. But, it recently reached perhaps its most significant and long-lasting milestone with the establishment of a permanent financial endowment for the park with the Austin Community Foundation.
Austin philanthropist Bill Dickson made the endowment a reality with a generous $50,000 donation payable over the next five years. No funds can be withdrawn from the endowment until it reaches $100,000 and then five percent of the funds on hand will be available to the Conservancy for park maintenance and improvements that the Austin Parks and Recreation Department cannot afford. This special valentine to Austin was kicked off in a press conference at Pease on February 14, 2012, featuring special heart-shaped cupcakes from “Hey Cupcake,” balloons and attended by large crowd of neighbors, friends and well wishers. Jill Nokes, past president of the Austin Parks Foundation, made the announcement of the endowment and City Councilpersons Chris Riley and Laura Morrison symbolically accepted the gift on behalf of the City. Ms. Nokes emphasized that the “sustainability” of park improvements is the key to the long-term health of Pease Park. As the endowment grows, it will act as a “safety net” under the park to insulate it from City budget problems and economic downturns. This will help Pease avoid the typical pattern of renewal, slow decline and subsequent renewal seen in so many public spaces over time. In this regard the endowment follows the example of the Central Park Conservancy in New York City in trying to ensure that all of its hard won progress in beautification, amenities and improvements last.
You too can be a part of the endowment Plant the seeds of your legacy in Pease Park by including the endowment in your annual giving and including it in your estate planning. Governor and Mrs. Pease had remarkable foresight and vision to create a great park in the center of Austin in 1875. You can exhibit similar foresight today and ensure that Pease’s beauty is enjoyed by future generations of Austinites. Just send your check payable to “Pease Park Endowment” to the Austin Community Foundation, 4315 Guadalupe Street, Austin, Texas 78751. If you have questions, you can contact the Austin Community Foundation at 472-4483 or the Pease Park Conservancy at 925-5306. You can also donate to the Pease Park Endowment online at www.austincf.org Donations for the ongoing operations of the Conservancy can be mailed to Pease Park Conservancy, P.O. Box 50065, Austin, Texas 78763 or made online at www.peasepark.org