On Thursday and Friday of last week, the founder of the Central Parks Conservancy, Betsy Barlow Rogers and the Historian and Photographer, Sara Cedar Miller, came and spent two days touring a number of downtown parks, giving a photo filled public lecture for 200 people at the Mexican American Cultural Center and meeting with a smaller group of Parks Dept Staff as well as parks advocates from the Austin Parks Foundation and the Trail Foundation to strategize how to increase our collaboration in improving and managing Austin’s Parks. What the Conversancy has accomplished in the past 30 years is incredible! Our $600 Million raised, with over $113 Million in capital projects completed. The Conservancy provides 85 percent of the operating costs of $27 Million per year for Central Park, and Conservancy and City parks staff work side by side to maintain the park. There are a number of lessons for us in Austin and we hope to take what we’ve learned during the visit and incorporate those lessons into current and future plans.