A vacant lot in Old Town Leander may become a park.
Leander City Council directed city staff Nov. 7 to find possible design firms to complete a project that would create a park on the 0.82-acre lot next to City Hall. The space has been the site of several city events, such as the Old Town Street Festival, the Leander Christmas Festival and Movies in the Park.
As it stands now, though, the lot is not a particularly favorable gathering spot, as it lacks shade, irrigation to keep grass alive and adequate sitting areas, according to city documents.
The project would help improve Leander’s Old Town District by attracting other restaurants and businesses, Mayor Troy Hill said.
“There are few things that we do other than giving incentives to bring businesses directly that can effect economic output and revenue coming into the city, but this is one of them because of where it is,” Hill said. “It’s an investment, but it has a clear return.”
Recently, several new businesses have opened in Old Town, including AJ’s Bar and Grill and Patchouli Joe’s Books and Indulgences. The city also recently renovated a main road in Old Town, North Brushy Street.
City staff will begin the request for qualifications process so interested parties can submit proposals for the design and engineering of the park, according to Parks and Recreation Director Mark Tummons. Council voted 5-1 to have city staff do so. Council Member Christine Sederquist was opposed, and Council Member Michelle Stephenson was absent.
Sederquist said she is in favor of beautifying this part of Old Town but wanted to keep the space available for a possible expansion of City Hall. While the city has talked about putting a new City Hall in the future Northline development, she said, Northline is years away from completion.
“I think the responsible thing to do is plan for our future first,” Sederquist said. “The park is nice, but where are we going to have our staff in two years when we’ve outgrown the space we have?”
Council Member Marci Cannon said she thinks an Old Town park will benefit businesses and homeowners in the area.
“They know it’s going to immediately give them a sense of place, which is very important as we’re trying to develop this into a kind of creative, little historic Old Town,” Cannon said.