By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
The Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association will propose a bond election Thursday, June 18 to Travis County Water Control & Improvement District 17 for the purchase of 80 acres in Steiner Ranch.
The public is invited to the meeting, scheduled for June 18 at 6 p.m. at the WCID-17 office, 3812 Eck Lane. The public comment period begins at 6:30 p.m., noted Brian Thompto, SRNA chairman.
The proposed bond, totaling $7.5 – $8 million, is for property just off RM 620 and Quinlan Park Road known as MU-14 and owned by MU-14 Investments.
It is slated for construction of 150 duplexes, but SRNA wants to buy the property for development corresponding to community interests, such as a park or ball fields.
SRNA has received “overwhelming support” for purchase of the property, reported Thompto. Specifically, 998 people responded to an online survey, with 88 percent (876) declaring they were “very interested – I’d vote for it today”. Eleven percent, or 110 people, said they were interested, but needed to learn more. Only 12 people said were “not interested”. “Four comments were truly against the issue. I think maybe a few didn’t understand the question because their comments expressed concern about traffic and having green space,” said Thompto.
SRNA has been actively seeking a change as it relates to the property’s intended development for the last two and a half years. SRNA believes a duplex development is a “bad fit” for Steiner Ranch.
SRNA solicited a show of public support for the property purchase following a May meeting with WCID 17, in which board members questioned Steiner Ranch residents backing for the project as well as legality of a bond election for it. SRNA asked residents to complete the online survey in support or opposition of the purchase.
As for the legality, Thompto said, “Based on legal work we’ve done, we don’t see any roadblock. We expect that WCID 17 will pick up the legal questions again and get them resolved fully.”
Last month, Deborah Gernes, WCID 17 general manager, told Four Points News, “District 17 has been working with the SRNA on this issue for the last 10 months or so, and consulting with both our general counsel and bond attorneys to determine both the mechanism by which this could be accomplished and the legality of creating a new defined area specifically for park land.”
“Although the district has consulted with the Attorney General’s Office, a clear answer on the legality of using the defined-area mechanism has not been received,” Gernes said. “Establishing a new defined area is a detailed, time consuming and expensive legal process which would require a general election of the entire district as well as an election within the defined area itself. It is doubtful that the process could be completed in time to call the election in August (for a November election). All of the current voted Steiner bonds have now been issued, and creating a new defined area would increase the tax rate and extend the time that residents would have to pay that tax.”
Regardless, SRNA believes public support is really the dominant question. “We are excited to present the data because it shows overwhelming support,” said Thompto.
It is not too late to complete the survey, he added. To register support or opposition for the purchase of MU-14, go to www.steinerranchna.org/mu14