Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail was officially renamed Thursday to the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail, after former Austin mayor and UT alumnus Roy Butler and his wife Ann.
The couple played a pivotal role during Butler’s two terms as mayor from 1971 to 1975 in establishing the Town Lake Beautification Committee with former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, cleaning up the lake and laying the groundwork for the 10.2-mile trail that now encircles the reservoir, said Matt Curtis, spokesman for mayor Lee Leffingwell.
“The renaming will be a real compliment to Lady Bird Lake,” Curtis said. “Ann worked the most along with Lady Bird to clean up the lake and established the park.”
Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, daughter of former president Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, told the council she believes her mother would have supported the measure to rename the trail.
“I will not dare put words in my mother’s mouth now, nor did I in her lifetime, but I have no doubt whatsoever that she would be the first person leading the parade saying the trail needs to be named after Roy and Ann, ought to be named after Roy and Ann Butler, because it is the right thing to do,” Turpin said.
Curtis added that renaming the trail will not lead to additional costs to the city.
“Town Lake signage is minimal already,” Curtis said. “As the old signage wears out we will replace it with signage with the Butlers’ names.”
Susan Rankin, director of The Trail Foundation, an organization that advocates for trail improvement at Lady Bird Lake, said Austin would not be what it is today without the Butlers’ work.
“Ann and Roy working with Lady Bird had the vision and shaped the vision of the trail that we have today,” Rankin said. “I think we all know that the trail really is the gem in the heart of Austin.”
City council decided to rename the trail in a five-in-favor, two-against vote that will bypass the customary 90-day public comment period for name changes.
City council members Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison both praised the Butlers during the meeting but voted against the renaming measure because it waived the customary 90-day public comment period.
“I feel it is so important that we have a public dialogue about this, that I will not be able to support this motion,” Morrison said.
Radio-televsion-film junior Christina Toth said she enjoys walking the trail, but doesn’t think a name change will change her appreciation for it.
“I don’t even know the name of it honestly,” Toth said. “I usually use Lake Austin. I don’t think the name will change the way I feel about it much. It’s a nice trail. I’m just glad we have it.”
Simona Tever, 22, of New York City, said she enjoyed visiting the trail Wednesday during her Austin visit but didn’t know its name. She did however know that Lady Bird Lake was the official name of the reservoir.
“It’s Lady Bird Lake,” Tever said. “That’s what was on the map.”
Published on Friday, November 4, 2011 as: Trail remamed, honors former Austin mayor