Lost Creek Limited District to begin charging fee for access at its entrance to Barton Creek greenbelt

The Lost Creek Limited District met virtually May 13. (Screenshot courtesy Lost Creek Limited District)
The Lost Creek Limited District met virtually May 13. (Screenshot courtesy Lost Creek Limited District)

The Lost Creek Limited District met virtually May 13. (Screenshot courtesy Lost Creek Limited District)

During its May 13 meeting, the Lost Creek Limited District board of directors voted unanimously to begin charging nonresidents to access the greenbelt from the Barton Creek low water crossing entrance point.

The board stated the fees, $10 per adult over 12 years of age and $5 per dog, will help defray taxpayer costs for "security and maintenance related to increased use of the Lost Creek Greenbelt."

Information from the limited district states the fee pilot program will begin May 29 and last until Aug. 2, at which point it will be re-evaluated.

During discussion of the fee program, board members said the greenbelt has been overrun with security issues caused by a small percentage of greenbelt attendees. The board also discussed a high volume of trash accumulation, excessive parking up and down Lost Creek Boulvard, dog attacks, nudity, drug use and general drunkenness within the greenbelt as problems Lost Creek residents are dealing with.

"Those are the issues. They are bad," said Megan Marrs, Lost Creek Limited District vice president.

Though the board members see this as a necessary action to help diminish problems with certain visitors to the greenbelt, they also indicated cognizance of the optics of a fee program for nonresidents.

"I want to make sure that we are being fair in the community and particularly, at this time, when people are limited in their opportunities to spend free time that we're not trying to take away one of the things that they can do," Board Member Andy Bitner said.

The board also pointed out during the May 13 meeting the Lost Creek entrance is one of seven other entrances to the Barton Creek greenbelt.

"We have to think about the entire neighborhood," said Leah Stewart, Lost Creek Limited District president, who added that the Lost Creek greenbelt entrance differs from the greenbelt's seven other entrances. "In our case, the water is right there—right next to the country club; right next to the bike path for our children; right next to a number of houses—and so, I think our interest in security is a little different than some of those other entrances."

The plan to implement the pilot policy for fee implementation was initially set at four hours on Friday and eight hours on Saturday and Sunday, but the board landed on a more general phrase encompassing "peak times" that may be subject to change.

During discussion of the fee program, several board members invoked the ongoing River Place fee system as at least partially informing the Lost Creek decision. That program has proven controversial since it was discovered that at least some of the nature trail within the River Place Limited District was underwritten by a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which resulted in that department pursuing an investigation into the legality of the fees.

The Lost Creek board also voted May 13 to contract with the same company that manages fee implementation for River Place.

The next steps involve the board expanding security and hiring ticket takers to implement the program, notifying Lost Creek residents, placing appropriate signage at the greenbelt and solidifying a messaging campaign to notify the public, among other actions.
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.


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