Over the last five years, the city of Leander has completed several 2016 bond-funded projects including road and park improvements. But several large developments remain in planning including the city’s first senior and recreation centers.

Next steps for these centers could depend on an upcoming city facilities study, which Leander City Council requested in May with results anticipated in November.

The bond program was approved in May 2016 with four propositions: $22.8 million for street improvements, $26.65 for parks development, $18 million for a recreation center and $4.19 million for a senior center.

Both centers were added to the bond project list in 2016 based on a city task force recommendation in which the senior center was a top priority, and a third-party survey showed public support for a community center, according to previous •Community Impact Newspaper• reporting.

Finished road projects that used bond funding include South Street and West Street improvements in Old Town Leander near City Hall and the Metro Drive extension, which will connect Leander’s Capital Metro station to the under-construction Northline mixed-use development.

Completed park projects include turf fields at Bledsoe Park, Veterans Park and the city’s largest park, Lakewood Park. Leander Mayor Christine Sederquist said Lakewood Park has become “the gem of Leander” as it is now a community meeting spot and has hosted city events.

“When you look at the east side of town, they didn’t have a city park previously,” Sederquist said. “So we went big on this one.”

Future projects include the San Gabriel River Park and Trail, a sports complex with multipurpose fields and a trail along the river; intersection improvements at West Street and South Street; and two more San Gabriel Parkway extension phases.

Another planned project is improvements to Raider Way and East Woodview Drive near Rouse High School and Knox Wiley Middle School to relieve congestion on the narrow road. Construction is expected to begin next summer and continue through the beginning of the school year. Flood plain plan changes caused the project to be redesigned and delayed, Sederquist said.

Senior center

Progress has stalled on the proposed senior center as a result of increased construction costs and site location considerations.

The proposed senior center will include administrative offices, a game room, a fitness room, a gathering area for up to 100 people, a commercial kitchen and an outdoor courtyard.

Leander has a large retiree population who wants somewhere to congregate, Sederquist said.

“They want a community. They want to feel connected,” Sederquist said. “We just don’t have a location.”

The project was paused in 2020 after a city committee wanted to reconsider the site of the senior center, which is planned at 709 Municipal Drive, to a site near Sonny Drive and Bagdad Road. The final location may be determined by the facilities study.••Other current delays are due to increased construction costs, and Sederquist said council members are currently waiting for a cost update on the project. In 2018, a cost estimate was provided at over $5 million.

“There’s a potential that it could be pushed off a little longer because of the market forces and the availability to have it funded,” Sederquist said.

Recreation center

As for the recreation center, the city has no current plans to begin the project for which progress hinges on selecting a site. ••Voters approved $18 million for the 50,000-square-foot recreation center, though no bonds have been sold for it yet. This will fund the design and construction of the project.

In an update to council in August, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Tummons said the community is in need of a recreation center because current programs are held in the library annex or other small rooms.

Tummons said the location of the recreation center is a major concern and topic of discussion. Site locations under consideration are near Glenn High School and near the Austin Community College campus.

“We’ve got the opportunity to really do something special with the recreation center if we can locate a site,” Tummons said. “I think our community is very much in need of a center.”

But until a land agreement is made, it is a nonstarter, Sederquist said.

"The bond is not going bad anytime soon. We have 10 years total to issue it, so it’s one of those things that we could do if the opportunity presents itself,” Sederquist said.•