Bee Cave City Council meeting sees decisive majority of commenters speak against proposed county bridge

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More than 20 residents of the Homestead neighborhood in Bee Cave spoke passionately at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting against a proposed county bridge. The bridge is the most recent offering from Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty regarding a solution to what some officials call a dangerous low-water crossing in the area.

The public comment period was largely a declaration against the proposed bridge on Great Divide Drive. Though at least one Homestead resident said he is in favor of a bridge, for the most part the nearly hourlong train of commentary exhibited a unified front, causing attendee applause after several people spoke.

Resident outcry to city officials came following the Jan. 5 issuance of a memo from Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty informing residents they will be choosing whether or not the county should allocate what is now up to $6.2 million for the bridge from a $185 million 2017 bond package.

Daugherty said last week the cost of the bridge, which is not final, has climbed so high due to recommendations based on data recently issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through a historical rainfall study called Atlas 14, which has redesignated 500-year flood plains as 100-year flood plains.

Morgan Bender is a member of grassroots committee Don’t Bridge the Great Divide, which is canvassing Homestead residents ahead of a Feb. 5 Travis County Commissioners meeting that could see action on whether or not to proceed with the bridge. On Jan. 22, Bender said residents such as her are still for a solution to the low-water crossing, but not the one proposed by Daugherty.

Many Homestead residents have already spoken out against the one-size-bridge-or-nothing option with which they’ve been presented, saying it is too invasive, and the public comment session showed no deviation from that sentiment.

Homestead resident Katie Clawson said she owns a home the proposed bridge would pass alongside.

“I want to let it be known that I absolutely do not want that huge overpass next to my home,” Clawson said, adding the vast majority of homeowners in her neighborhood share her feelings on the matter.

Other residents said the proposed bridge feels overwhelming, and it would be like driving over a highway and therefore antithetical to neighborhood’s spirit of rural living. Another resident said it seems like there are other influences at play for officials advocating for the bridge, and it is not a pressing need.

Homestead residents also spoke about safety concerns, worries about their property devaluation, possible damage done to the natural flora and fauna habitat of the area, misappropriation of county funds for an unwanted and unneeded bridge, and even potential ice hazards that could emerge from the new infrastructure.

Still other residents said the data provided by Atlas 14 that helped inform the scope of the proposed bridge are overstated, and there hasn’t been one traffic-related injury in 40 years at that low-water crossing.

Of the 22 people who spoke before council, Homestead resident James Cook was the only one who said he is in favor of a bridge, and whether homeowners like it or not, Travis County still owns the land where the low-water crossing sits. This is an issue to take up with the county, Cook said, not the city of Bee Cave.

“The fact is you’re going to get this bridge, accept it for what it is and live life,” Cook said, adding the best option right now is to work with county officials to get the best option possible.

Council Member Marie Lowman, speaking as a private citizen, took the podium during public comment and for much of her address spoke directly to Mayor Monty Parker. Lowman urged Parker to redirect his traffic advocacy on more dangerous traffic areas nearby.

“May I suggest you direct your efforts toward making the most dangerous intersection in our city: the intersection of Hwy. 71 and Hamilton Pool Road, the scene of 66 accidents in 2018 alone, a mere 4,200 feet from this accident-free low-water crossing, the focus of your safety efforts?” Lowman said. “That will benefit all residents and the 40,000 vehicles who pass through our city every day.”

Homestead resident Morgan Bender spoke before Bee Cave City Council Jan. 22 against a proposed county bridge at a low water crossing near her neighborhood. (via Brian Rash)

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  1. While I have no issue with Marie Lowman speaking as a citizen, the vitriol that she directed at Mayor Parker was uncalled for and she even used personal digs comparing the polling was better against a a bridge than for his Mayoral race. She came across as an unprofessional person and for her to treat a fellow member of the council the way she did showed those in attendance her true colors. There are places for conversations and she could have easily discussed her grievances offline. It’s good she will not be running again because our city doesn’t need double faced politicians like her.

    • Marie Lowman spoke against the proposed bridge as a resident concerned for her neighborhood.
      More than 20 other citizens also spoke against the proposed bridge.
      Her views we’re consistent with all those people.

      Ms Lowman received a round of applause from the audience when she finished speaking

      The only person to speak in favor of the bridge received a visit from the chief of police.
      Both Mayor and the Bee Cave Police appear to have been more concerned about that person’s conduct than Ms Lowmans

    • Carrell Killebrew

      “Vitriol” is an inflammatory and incorrect description. Nothing Ms Lowman said meets the two qualities which define a vitriolic statement, to be BOTH cruel AND bitter. She was neither in her comments, so your description is incorrect, and obviously along with the remainder of your comment, meant to be inflammatory, tactics typical of a troll.

      Ms Lowman has every right as a private citizen to address members of Council in that capacity. No-one surrenders their rights as a citizen by virtue of being elected. She gave Mr Parker some measure of grace in her criticisms by NOT making them from the dais as a member of Council.

      Her comparison of the results which elected the Mayor with votes against this monstrosity was illustrative of the irony of Mr Parker’s behavior in this matter. For those who aren’t informed, the Mayor used his office in an unsanctioned way to express his personal opinion to the County Court to the detriment of his own constituents. Ms Lowman pointed out that the number of Homesteaders who have a diametrically different view from Mr Parker is more than the votes he received in the last election. Ms Lowman’s example was usefully illustrative and served well to make her (and everyone except Roberts) points on this matter.

  2. Email dated 11/16/2018 12:05 PM from Marie Lowman to Homestead residents.

    I do not believe we will be getting anything other than the largest structure 4.2 million + will provide. Anything short of that is full of liability, not to mention political suicide.

    So she admits it’s full of liability not to build the largest structure in Nov 2018 then changes her position that the money should be used on the HPP and Hwy 71 intersection. I wonder if she’s contacted TXDot yet since she’s so worried. My money would say no.

  3. Once again homestead residents are on the digital warpath behind their keyboards. Attacking the Mayor with Facebook conspiracies and on their neighborhood email system. If the Mayor was so wrong then why don’t they do something about it? Mr. Killebrew spouted out a bunch of codes broken by the Mayor but will he put his money where his mouth is and hire a lawyer to remove the Mayor? Of course not. Neither will any of the other homestead residents because they like to talk and don’t have the stomach for action. Most likely the money either to stand up for a wrong they feel was committed. What a bunch of fake patriots.

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Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.
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