Lakeway, TX, USA: Parks & Trails
The Next Golden Years!
We can only hope the future will bring a new beginning of Golden Years in Parks & Recreational Development!
Before planning for the future we must first do an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the City regarding parks. This assessment will help us determine the needs of the city going forward.
Most glaring of the City's problems is a lack of a City Parks & Recreation Commission; most cities, large and small have a Commission. A strong Parks and Recreation Commission is essential in gathering citizen input, planning, and shaping future park and recreation programs and additions. The City of Lakeway had a Parks and Recreation Commission from 1991 until 2012; this Commission was responsible for many of the park and recreation additions in the City in its Golden Years! Through the first ten years this Commission thrived as it was strongly supported by the City and endowed with strong leadership; individual members were encouraged to take initiative; as a result great progress was achieved for Lakeway's Parks and Recreational programs. The latter years of the Commission were hindered by lack of support from the City and weak leadership; initiative was lost, meeting dates and times were constantly changed, member attendance waned, and the Commission was changed to a Committee; sadly the citizen component of Parks and Recreation was abandoned in the City of Lakeway in 2012. If a new Golden Age of Parks and Recreation in the City of Lakeway is to be reattained, a new and strong citizen Parks and Recreation Commission is the first priority.
The most compelling physical weaknesses of the City of Lakeway Parks is the lack of neighborhood parks. Lakeway City Park is a wonderful park waterfront park with a beach with Lake access, very scenic natural features, excellent walking trails, plentiful picnic tables and park benches, a very accessable dog park, a basketball court, a pavilion, two playscapes, and a wide variety of native plants and trees. However City Parks location makes it time consuming for many citizens to reach its location, particularly citizens residing across RR 620 or citizens residing in the far west of the city. For citizens residing on the east side of RR 620 to reach City Park, these citizens must first cross RR 620, travel down Lakeway Blvd, Lohmans Crossing Road, and Hurst Creek Road to reach City Park.
Similarly for citizens residing on the far western areas of the City, these citizens must travel a long distance on either Highlands Blvd or Serene Hills, then Lakeway Blvd, Lohmans Crossing Road, and Hurst Creek Road to reach City Park. Not only does this result in long commute times to City Park for the citizens living on the periphery of the City, traffic is increased on major arteries within the City. To alleviate these problems, additional parks are needed in the City, particularly on the eastern edge of the City across RR 620 and on the western edge of the City near TX 71. A natural physical barrier such as a park, preserve, or greenbelt on the western edge of the City is consistent with the City's 2003 Comprehensive Plan and Parks Master Plan. The terrain near Mt Lakeway and the Serene Hills Preserve is especially scenic and pristine, filled with many natural features and abundant native trees, flora and plants, many not seen elsewhere in Lakeway. The 366 acres in the Lakeway Highlands irrigation tract encompasses Mt Lakeway and vast surrounding scenery; borders the Serene Hill Preserve, connecting this beautiful land in it original native state, with the Canyonlands. Click on the link below to see a Topographical Model of this land.
A favorite recreational amenity of the citizens of Lakeway is the pedestrian walkway in the median of Lakeway Blvd., yet this trail has two major breaks. The first break is at the Yaupon Creek crossing; the second break is between Lohmans Crossing Road and Lakeway Drive. The latter break is easily remedied with a short concrete trail. The Yaupon Creek crossing is more difficult to remedy, requiring a long pedestrian bridge supported by large concrete abutments at each end. An alternate fix is to move the west bound lanes to the north by approximately 8 feet and install a raised median to support the trail between the east and west bound lanes. Both options are approximately equal in cost, regardless, fixing both of these discontinuities in the trail will provide a significant improvement in recreational and pedestrian transportation opportunities in the City.
The Lakeway Blvd Median Trail can further be enhanced by connecting the north end of the Median Trail with the sidewalks along Rough Hollow Drive. The sidewalks along Rough Hollow Drive have spectacular views of Lake Travis, Rough Hollow, and the canons below. The connection would translate the Lakeway MUD water treatment plant property. Right-of-way access for the trail has already been secured for the MUD property and other small adjourning properties. The terrain on these properties is relatively flat, this proposed trail connection would be rather inexpensive.
Rebel and Sailfish Parks are two small waterfront parks located in the oldest sections of Lakeway, protected by strong deed restrictions. Sadly these parks were never developed by the developer, the Lakeway Civic Corporation (LCC), or the City. Title to these parks passed from the Lakeway Company to the LCC and then to the City of Lakeway. At one time the LCC and the City allowed illegal private boat docks on these properties; fortunately these boat docks have now been removed. While these parks are small with rugged terrain, there is room for small parking lots and minimal improvements such as trails, park benches, and picnic tables. The rugged terrain almost certainly limits lake access, however both provide excellent vistas of Lake Travis. Both of these parks should be developed and opened to the public to increase the rich and varied tapestry of parks within the City.
Once the Parks and Recreation is reestablished, its first task should be to hold multiple town hall meetings to gather citizen input concerning the recreational needs of the City. After completing the town hall meetings, the commission should develop a Parks Master Plan based on input from the meetings as well as input from the commissioners themselves, additionally the City Staff should contribute. The Master Plan should highlight unmet parks and recreational needs in the City; the Plan should prioritize these needs. In consultation with the City Council, the plan should be approved and an implementation program established. The citizens should be kept apprised on the progress of the plan and the plan should be updated on a periodic basis to meet changes within the City.
Recently there has been an effort by some citizens to get the City to purchase the 35 acre Stratus tract behind the Lakeway Oaks shopping center. While this land does hold two spring fed ponds, this tract is not ideal park land because of it close proximity to the Oaks shopping center, in fact the land around the pond stares directly into the back of the HEB store and the four-story LaQuinta hotel. Even more of a negative against this tract is that the right-of-way for Main Street cuts right through the middle of this tract, bisecting the parkland into two small parks. Unfortunately the current asking price of $5 million, if purchased this means that no other far deserving park project will get funded for years. The land around Mt Lakeway described above is 350 acres versus the 35 acres of this tract. The land around Mt Lakeway is immensely more scenic and native than this tract. We should not let our desire to save land from developers cloud our judgment in selecting parkland or decimating our park budget for years to come!