By KIM ESTES
Four Points News
Proposed projects in Travis County — including ball fields in Steiner Ranch, sidewalks in Westminster Glen and a turn lane at the intersection of Bullick Hollow and RM 2769 — were discussed at last week’s Travis County Citizens Bond Advisory Committee held at Vandegrift High School.
About 25 people attended the session, one of six held in June throughout the county to gather public input on a potential referendum.
Ron Wattinger’s remarks opened a public outreach meeting on June 27 and the CBAC chairman says they will most likely recommend that Commissioners adopt a bond package totaling $145 to $195 million because anything smaller is “not realistic.”
The county Planning and Budget Office estimates that the impact per $100 million in long-term debt on the average taxable homestead of $285,152 is $13 a year. The anticipated bond is expected to be for a span of two or three years, depending on the total value of it, said Travis Gatlin, Travis County budget director.
Initially, commissioners gave the CBAC a range of $50 to $150 million for a small, medium or large bond package to fund projects for parks and land conservation and transportation, such as roadway capacity and safety, bridge improvement and pedestrian access.
Meeting since March, the CBAC has reviewed the proposed county “Consolidated 2017 Bond Project List” and participated in on-site tours to observe the context, challenges and scope of many of the possible projects. They have prioritized the currently recommended list, but Wattinger said priorities are flexible based on public input.
At last week’s meeting, there were several Four Points residents with specific requests for ball field space at Steiner Ranch and a sidewalk in Westminster Glen.
Bullick Hollow turn lane
However, as currently drafted, the most direct impact that passage of the bond would have locally is the construction of a 400-foot right turn lane at Bullick Hollow and RM 2769.
The project is considered a top priority. “It was ranked first by (county) staff for transportation projects,” said Brian Thompto, the only Four Points resident on the 15-member CBAC.
Thompto said traffic at Bullick Hollow and FM 2769 backs up during peak afternoon travel time, and adding a turn lane will improve access for vehicles turning right, subsequently decreasing congestion. Estimated cost of the Bullick Hollow project is $1.1 million.
Westminster Glen sidewalks
Sidewalks for Westminster Glen are also now on the potential projects list under the pedestrian category. “Residents have spoken at more than one meeting and expressed interest in a sidewalk along Westminster Glen Avenue where through traffic comes from City Park Road to River Place and beyond. Their request was added to the project list for consideration,” Thompto said. The estimated cost is $1.7 million, but it is considered a lower priority.
Westminster Glen resident, Erin Burgess, addressed CBAC members saying, “We know this is ‘small potatoes’ in the scheme of things, but for our neighborhood, it would be a very big improvement.”
Currently, neighborhood school children wait for buses in the roadway, and at least one resident and fitness enthusiast believes it is unsafe for all others as well. She walks the road for exercise, and one day avoided being hit by an oncoming truck when a friend pushed her into a ditch. “There is nowhere to go. You are either on the road or in the ditch,” said Jody Branson.
Steiner Ranch ball fields
As for ball fields in Four Points, Steiner Ranch resident, Amanda Teodecki, told CBAC members that there are 5,000 to 7,000 children in Steiner Ranch but no nearby ball fields. Parents take their children to Cedar Park or Lakeway to participate in youth sports.
She noted that there is undeveloped property at the entrance of Steiner Ranch called MU 14 that could be made into park space. She asked that county officials explore purchasing the land.
Thompto particularly encourages local residents to submit requests for the purchase of land for sports complexes. “Presently, Northwest Travis County lacks ball fields and the ability to support little league, girls softball, etc. I was surprised to find out that ball fields are plentiful or already proposed in other parts of the county.”
“Land in Northwest Travis County, especially near the RM 620 corridor, is disappearing due to development, and soon there may be no good locations remaining for ball fields. Specific land or general proposals to allocate money for the purchase of land for this purpose may be possible,” Thompto said.
Other project updates
There are a couple of projects of interest to Four Points residents that are not under consideration for inclusion in the bond package, Thompto noted.
The first is the low water crossing on Fritz Hughes Park Road, near Montview Acres. “This project was removed from the list and is not in the CBAC scope for consideration since it has been funded by the Commissioners Court as part of emergency egress improvements planned for Steiner Ranch and Montview Acres,” Thompto said.
Also, improvements to RM 620 and RM 2222 are absent as they are under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation, he added.
Cynthia McDonald, Transportation and Natural Resources chief deputy, says the public can file requests and concerns regarding the bond up until Aug. 8, when commissioners are scheduled to vote on it. To send a comment or read about current proposed projects, go to https://www.traviscountytx.gov/cbac