Thursday, April 24, 2014

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24-hour trail access carries hefty price tag

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TWC News: 24-hour trail access carries hefty price tag
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Keeping Austin trails open 24-hours a day could cost millions. Right now, there's a 10 p.m. curfew on Austin's hike-and-bike trails, but the city is looking into keeping them open all hours of the night.

Budget planners estimate the Parks and Recreation Department would have to spend at least $325,000 to add park rangers and dispatchers. That number does not include any expense to light the trails along Lady Bird Lake, Shoal Creek or Johnson Creek.

Having all three trails open around the clock could cost the Austin Police Department at least $1.6 million just for the six-month pilot program.

APD Chief Art Acevedo says you could easily double that cost to more than $3 million to keep them open year round.

"If you are going to open it up to this very engaged community that likes using the trails, we have to have a visible, proactive police presence to keep people safe,” he said.

Acevedo says his officers would be racking up overtime because he does not currently have the staff to cover the trails overnight.

The city council will consider the pilot program at Thursday's meeting.

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