City staff will return to council after making adjustments to their proposal based on council feedback received at the May 25 meeting.
Deciding whether to phase in a system of roads and build out more than 300 parking spots at an estimated cost of more than $3 million is the first of many decisions to come for the city’s master plan that will guide the long-term development of Bee Cave’s 60-acre Central Park, which lies just west of RM 620 and Bee Cave Parkway.
A draft master plan presented May 25 to council shows additional future access points to the park, including at Hwy. 71 and RM 620. The idea from city staff is that these access points and accompanying roads running across the park would create greater connectivity to different amenities that would be built in the park over many years. Currently, there is only one entrance to Central Park, and that entrance is at Bee Cave Parkway just west of RM 620.
While Council Member Andrea Willott opened the discussion by saying she was opposed to building any additional roads through the park, most council member discussion that followed centered around a proposed entrance off RM 620 near the current Discount Tire store, which sits along a long drive that leads west to a dead-end at Central Park.
An entrance and road at this spot might encourage northbound motorists on RM 620 to avoid rush hour traffic on the state highway by making a left and cutting through the park, Mayor Kara King said during the meeting.
King said she wanted to find a compromise between her initial opposition to the city staff recommendations for additional park roadways.
“[RM] 620 concerns me the most,” King said during the meeting. “That area of 620 is very congested. Would somebody cut through that area to get to Bee Cave Parkway? Possibly, yes.”
Council Member Jon Cobb said he agreed with the mayor that protecting the park from traffic was a concern, but he said the proposed construction of a major thoroughfare, currently known as Willie Way, on adjoining property to the west as part of The Backyard multiuse development would siphon traffic away from park roads.
“There is no way I would agree to this in any shape or form without Willie Way being there because if Willie Way isn’t there, people would cut through [the park],” Cobb said.
When discussing the southwestern edge of the park, King also said she is opposed, at least in the near term, to a proposal from staff to build a roadway that would connect motorists in Central Park to The Backyard.
“We are not saying ‘not ever.’ We are saying not now,” she said.
Council Member Courtney Hohl said after speaking with staff, she supported increasing the number of roads within the park.
“Just from a usability standpoint and having small kids,” she said. “I feel this plan is going to bring so much to our community from different uses. What I see now are walkers and kids playing sports and the playscape, and that’s pretty much it. There’s so much usable space there that is not being used.”
One other item to likely change in the park designs staff has been working on with consultant MWM Design Group is a proposed traffic circle on the western edge of the park that would be used to slow motorists down as they drive through the park. As proposed, that traffic circle would rival the size of Columbus Circle in New York City, according to consultant David Cazares. Council members said such a circle would take up too much space.
During the meeting and prior to voting to delay a decision on the road plan, council heard from several residents of the nearby The Homestead neighborhood. Residents said while they would support additional parking along the edges of the park, they were against additional roads being built in Central Park because of safety concerns for children in the park and concern about motorists using the roads as shortcuts to avoid traffic on RM 620 and Hwy. 71.
Resident Carrell Killebrew said he takes his grandchildren to Central Park and does not want to ever see traffic flow through the park.
“They have a ton of energy and quite frankly they will go from one end of the park to the other end of the park, to the other end of the park,” he said. “I’m not worried about whether people can get around the park.”