Mayor Sandy Cox delivers first State of Lakeway address of 2020

Topics included transportation projects and the city's comprehensive plan. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Topics included transportation projects and the city's comprehensive plan. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Topics included transportation projects and the city's comprehensive plan. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Since her election to office in May 2018, Mayor Sandy Cox has increased the number of "State of Lakeway" addresses she delivers each year, giving one in 2018 and four in 2019.

Cox appears primed to continue that trend, giving her first address only three weeks into 2020.

The Jan. 23 address centered on transportation, the city's comprehensive plan and a potential May bond request for several million dollars.

A transportation strategy

Regarding needed transportation projects for Lakeway, Cox said the short term plan has been to increase safety on the city's main thoroughfare, RM 620.


"We're going to be putting some of the slotted curbs all along the center of RM 620, and we're going to be doing it this summer," Cox said, adding that infrastructure improvement will also help with the massive RM 620 widening planned to begin by 2023.

The city is also working with the Texas Department of Transportation on that widening project that runs from where RM 620 begins at Hwy. 71 and ends well north of Lakeway.

For the long term, Cox stressed the importance of focusing on transportation projects leading up to 2045; he also said city officials are working with TxDOT to find feasible solutions for the area's growing population.

The city of Lakeway has spent the last five months working with an engineering firm and a transportation committee on a wide-ranging transportation study in order to determine projects the city could benefit from more immediately, Cox said.

"It was great data to understand our patterns," she said. "Main Street is a very important road for us to get finalized ... And then, we have a Lohmans Crossing Road connection, which Legend Communities is responsible for."

Cox said other important road projects include Medical Drive and Serene Hills Drive, and much of the data from the study will be used to work with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to help complete projects not initiated through the citywide study.

The Comprehensive Plan

Cox also discussed the city's comprehensive plan, which looks 20 years into the future to determine the city's needs into 2040. She said the city should have a final report on the plan by Feb. 3 and noted that the city's Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee has been working on the document for the last 18 months.

"This Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee are rock stars," City Manager Julie Oakley said, adding the bulk of the plan is now under review with the Lakeway Planning and Zoning Commission.

Following the Feb. 3 review of the final draft, Oakley said, the city will hold an open house Feb. 5 for the public to weigh in on the plan, and final adoption will happen by March or April.

Cox said another key reason for the updated plan centers on the fact that Lakeway is close to being built-out, so it is crucial to reexamine what the city's needs might be as buildings and infrastructure age, ushering in redevelopment.

"It's really important to say now what we want," Cox said.

More Recreation square footage

Another big topic of discussion recently for Lakeway officials and citizens has been the city's need for a recreation center.

Parks and recreation are important to Lakeway residents, she said, and for the last two summers, council has been talking about the need for more capacity to fulfill recreational needs.

The city recently reached out to the YMCA, and officials are now amid discussions about the benefits of the public/private partnership that facility could bring.

"We have made zero decisions. I want to make that clear," Cox said. "We're in the early, early stages [of] looking at doing a facility. And this came out of feedback from our community."

Cox said there are other options, including expansions of Lakeway's existing recreational facilities, but the need is there.

A possible May bond

City Council continues to pursue the calling of a May bond to address improvements for roadways, infrastructure, facilities and recreational needs, and Cox said officials will see a list of projects Feb. 3.

Front-runners for a potential May bond include a renovation of the city's old Justice Center, roughly a $13 million asset; Cox said the renovation would constitute about a $2.5 million project.

"Ideally, if we have all the information we need [by Feb. 3], then, we could possibly make a decision in time for the Feb. 14 deadline for a May bond," Cox said.

Communications

Cox closed with a look at Lakeway's new communications strategy. The city hired Jarrod Wise to serve as its new communications director in 2019, and Cox said Wise is central to the city's evolving public outreach approach.

Lakeway has reinvigorated its focus on its website, news flashes, calendar alerts, weekly newsletter and social media, Cox said.

Wise discussed the city's new website during the State of Lakeway address, stating the new design is intended to be user-friendly and display the "lake community" brand of Lakeway.
By 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. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.