Lakeway, TX, USA: Parks & Trails

April 9, 2019

25 Year Anniversary of the opening of Lakeway City Park!


Circa 1998 Lakeway was bordered or buffered to the Northwest by Lake Travis as illustrated by the first map below. Lakeway was  also bordered on our East by the Balconies Canyonlands Preserves (BCP.) The vast acreage in the BCP created approximately 5 years prior to 1998, were extremely fortunate for Lakeway in that the establishment of these tracts prevented the future development of this land. We can only imagine the traffic on RR 620 had these tracts been developed with residential housing. Lakeway owes a vast debt to the City of Austin and Travis County who funded the purchase of these lands. Additionally there were vast tracts of "Undeveloped Land" to our west, south, and east that buffered Lakeway from TX 71. Equally important there were no road connections to TX 71 from Lakeway. 
In 2003 the City Council recognized the important of buffers on our borders; quoting from the Mission Statement of the 2003 Comprehensive Plan, "We will attempt, where possible, to maintain natural physical buffers on our borders, in order to preserve the separate identity and character of Lakeway." In 2003 the city council recognized the physical barriers that helped to give Lakeway an identify separate from any of the other Austin area suburbs. Then as now all central Texas small towns were threatened by Austin's urban sprawl. Because of the sprawl, one could not tell when one left Austin and entered Round Rock, similarly true when one left Austin for Pflugerville , similarly when one left Austin for Manor, or Austin for Buda, or Austin for Manchaca. Today Austin's sprawl threatens Dripping Springs, Kyle, Bastrop, Lockhart, and other small Central Texas Cities. These physical barriers around Lakeway are very important in maintaining our physical identity and separation from Austin's sprawl. 
In 2003 the Council recognized that Lakeway could not maintain indefinitely the "Undeveloped Land" on our Southern and Southwest borders. At that time Lakeway lacked the financial resources or the political will to purchase the land in the "Undeveloped Land" tracts. Lakeway could have refused to annex the new developments in the "Undeveloped Land," however this failure to annex would not have prevented development in these areas; probably to a quality much below Lakeway's standards. The 2003 Lakeway City Council did include the previously cited sentence in the Mission Statement of the 2003 Comprehensive Plan hoping that the advice of this sentence would guide future councils.
As illustrated in the second map, all of this changed by 2018, with the rapid development in the area. Lakeway has expanded rapidly to west, south, and east; Highlands Blvd and Serene Hills Drive now connect Lakeway with TX 71 and the ever growing sprawl along this corridor.
Fortunately today, 2018, some buffers are already in place; the LTISD Middle School plus two LTISD raw land tracts combine with the new Baseball Field Tract to form a buffer on our Southwestern border. On our southern border the Serene Hills Preserve / Greenbelts / Parks and the Bee Cave Primitive Park form a buffer in this area. However all of these tracts are still in the hands of the developers or WCID #17. While it is unlikely that these tracts will be developed, this cannot be ascertained until these properties are transferred to the City of Lakeway or the City of Bee Cave respectively. On our Southeastern border the Alta Vista Greenbelts in combination with the LTISD High School provide a buffer in this area. Fortunately the Alta Vista Greenbelts are now owned by the City; it is puzzling why the City does not own or control the Serene Hills Preserve / Greenbelts / Parks!
To continue this goal of adding physical barriers to maintain Lakeway's identity, it is very important that the City prevent residential development of the Highlands Irrigation Tract when development of Lakeway Highlands concludes. Hopeful through negotiations Lakeway can acquire this especially scenic land. The Highlands Irrigation Tract contains the Mt Lakeway and other natural scenic sites such as the Hidden Grotto, the Peninsular Plateau, unnamed canyons, and many native plants, trees, and flora not seen elsewhere in Lakeway. The Mt Lakeway Trail is enjoyed by a vast number of Lakeway Mt Bikers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. The Highlands Irrigation tract also connects Lakeway's Canyonlands natural area with the Serene Hills preserve which contain its own natural beauty with its overlooks from high above of TX 71 and the Bee Creek valley. The Serene Hills Preserve and Greenbelts connect with the Bee Cave Primitive Park to provide a vast 10-15 mile network of nature trails. 
All we need is imagination and initiative to secure this vast network of nature trails and scenic lands for future generations and provide a barrier from the urban sprawl in the area, protecting Lakeway's identity.

Lakeway Natural Barriers & Buffers