Neighbors: New St. Edward‘s facility encroaching on residential streets

Sherwood Oaks resident David Swann (left) addresses Tyler Patrick, a principal with Sasaki Associates Inc., the architecture firm working on St. Edwardu2018s Universityu2018s master campus plan.

Sherwood Oaks resident David Swann (left) addresses Tyler Patrick, a principal with Sasaki Associates Inc., the architecture firm working on St. Edwardu2018s Universityu2018s master campus plan.

St. Edward's University began working on a new campus master plan this week, and when the architecture firm designing the plan asked the neighbors for their opinion on it, what the firm got instead were complaints about school facilities encroaching on residential property and street parking.

The meeting was marked by interruptions, raised voices and, at times, clapping, as a crowd of around 30 people—many of whom live in the Sherwood Oaks neighborhood, which borders the catholic liberal arts university off South Congress Avenue and Woodward Street to the north—asked why they weren't considered when the university decided to build its new operations building on St. Edwards Drive.

The neighbors say they have a problem with the new facility because once it's built, delivery trucks will park, unload and turn around in the street—about 84 feet from a residence's property line, according to site plans.

"We're fresh off what we consider a huge insult to our neighborhood," said Joe Farley, who lives across the baseball field on St. Edwards Drive.

He said the Sherwood Oaks neighborhood had no opportunity to voice its concerns regarding the new two-story operations building, which is slated to open in January and will house several campus support services, including the university police department as well as copying, facilities and postal services, according to the university’s website.

St. Edward's applied for and was granted a right-of-way waiver with the city of Austin to allow delivery trucks to turn around at the dead end on St. Edwards Drive. The university said it was not possible to build a truck turn-around area "due to existing site constraints and topography," according to permitting documents.

The operations building will sit at the intersection of St. Edwards Drive and Carnarvon Lane.

Mischelle Diaz, director of communications for St. Edward's, said the university is "well aware" of the concerns raised by Sherwood Oaks about the operations building. She said the university has tried to address some of the speeding and parking concerns by initiating conversations with the Austin Police Department about increasing patrol and installing speed monitoring signals.

The university also redirected athletics buses to a different part of campus after receiving complaints that the buses were idling in front of residents' homes, which sit across from athletic fields, Diaz said.

Other concerns raised included students parking on their streets, which has sparked a neighborhood discussion about the unwanted need for residential parking permits, or RPPs; lack of sidewalks around the edges of the university and speeding along Eastside Drive.

"It's really a public safety issue, and that's what we're trying to get across," said Elloa Matthews, who has lived in Sherwood Oaks since 1994 and serves as the area liaison for the South River City Citizens neighborhood association.

She said she wished there was a way for the delivery trucks to enter the university through another path and deliver the goods—such as toilet paper, office supplies and mail—to the operations building through smaller vehicles on campus.

Matthews said she also wanted to know the rationale behind choosing this location for the operations building.

"[The residents' input] wasn't asked for, but now [St. Edward's doesn't] want to explain why it wasn't asked for," she said.

Matthews said she is also upset with the city of Austin, which approved the facility and the right-of-way waiver without consulting Sherwood Oaks residents or going to the site of the new operations building.

The new operations building is under construction on St. Edward's Drive near the dead end. The new operations building is under construction on St. Edwards Drive near the dead end.[/caption]

Tyler Patrick, a principal with Sasaki Architects Inc., who conducted the meeting Wednesday, said his firm was briefed on the ongoing neighborhood issues before the meeting, but that his job was to focus on the future and gather input for the master plan.

"The most important thing is that the meeting happened, that there was open dialogue, and that people were honest," he said. "Any frustrations that they had aren't going to be abated with one meeting."

Diaz said the Sherwood Oaks residents' assertion is correct: the involvement of the community during the development of the current master plan that involved the operations building was not the same as it was for other aspects of the master plan.

This time it will be different, she said.

"The meeting on Wednesday was held specifically for the neighborhood groups, and we did that because the university is interested in moving forward in receiving their input as we move through the master planning process," she said. "We're thankful that they attended."

Want to share your input on the St. Edward's University campus master plan? Email [email protected]


By Marie Albiges
Marie Albiges was the editor for the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covered San Marcos City Council, San Marcos CISD and Hays County Commissioners Court. Marie previously reported for the Central Austin edition. Marie moved to Austin from Williamsburg, Va. in 2016 and was born in France. She has since moved on from Community Impact in May 2018.


The Office of Police Oversight released its first comprehensive report detailing its operations though 2019 and 2020 this June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Office of Police Oversight report finds complaints against Austin police officers went up, but discipline fell in 2020

The new report centers on the office's three main functions, including tracking APD officer discipline, reviewing the city's police policies, and engaging with Austin residents.

Dreamland adding a disc golf course to its Dripping Springs outdoor entertainment and arts offerings in June. (Courtesy Dreamland)
Dripping Springs and Driftwood business news: Dreamland gets disc golf, new dog grooming business gets closer to opening and more

The new disc golf course at the outdoor entertainment venue sits on 42 acres and is free to play through June.

Volunteers of Austin Vaccine Angels gathered after becoming fully vaccinated. (Courtesy Jodi Holzband)
Grassroots groups aimed at vaccine outreach look toward the future

For the past five months, grassroots volunteer groups have been working to connect thousands of Central Texans to COVID-19 vaccines.

Washington Prime Group Inc. owns six area shopping centers, including The Arboretum. (Courtesy The Arboretum)
Owner of Austin-area shopping centers files for bankruptcy; entertainment complex coming to Cedar Park and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a woman and girl walking the trail with the Austin skyline behind them
Travis County commits to electrify fleet, doubles down on climate goals

Commissioners directed staff this week to develop a plan to fully electrify Travis County's fleet of vehicles, a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions for the county.

The Bloomhouse—an 1,100-square-foot home in the hills of West Austin—was built in the 1970s by University of Texas architecture students for fellow student Dalton Bloom. It was featured in the Austin Weird Homes Tour of 2020. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Weird Homes Tour ends; Z’Tejas to close Arboretum restaurant and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Project Connect's proposed Orange Line will run from Tech Ridge, through downtown Austin and to Slaughter Lane. (Rendering courtesy Project Connect)
Project Connect Orange Line design reveals proposed locations for rail stations in North, South Austin

The latest Orange Line design shows potential elevated rail line over I-35, as well as options for the Drag.

Photo of a weird home
Austin's Weird Homes Tour says goodbye—for now

The tour's founders say they are open to a new local operator taking over the event.

The former hotel off I-35 had most recently been used as a COVID-19 homeless Protection Lodge. (Courtesy City of Austin)
East Cesar Chavez encampment residents move into former South Austin hotel

Through Austin's HEAL initiative, residents of an encampment near East Austin's Terrazas Branch Libarary were relocated to a South Austin shelter before that camp is cleared away.

The regional blood bank appealed for further donations in the wake of the June 12 shooting in downtown Austin. (Courtesy We Are Blood)
We Are Blood appeals for blood donations following weekend shooting in downtown Austin

The Central Texas nonprofit also said its blood supply remains depleted due to decreased donations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of a man holding robotic equipment
Tesla teams up with Austin Community College for manufacturing training and hiring program

The Tesla START program will hire and train ACC students to work with robotics and other advanced manufacturing equipment.

Austin City Council's Housing and Planning Committee met virtually June 15. (Screenshot via City of Austin)
Austin City Council members, city Realtors talk housing market increases and affordability

The median sale price of Austin homes surged past $500,000 through the first five months of 2021.