Woods of Westlake calls for closure of its greenbelt access, citing public safety hazards

The Woods of Westlake homeowners association has reported public intoxication and other safety hazards at its Barton Creek Greenbelt trailhead. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact)
The Woods of Westlake homeowners association has reported public intoxication and other safety hazards at its Barton Creek Greenbelt trailhead. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact)

The Woods of Westlake homeowners association has reported public intoxication and other safety hazards at its Barton Creek Greenbelt trailhead. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact)

When the Barton Creek Greenbelt’s “Trails End” access in the Wood of Westlake community was established by the city of Austin in the 1980s, it was never intended to serve as a permanent trailhead, according to Christie Schultz, the interim president for the Woods of Westlake neighborhood association.

More than 30 years later the narrow entrance on Scottish Woods Trail sees about 1,000 daily visitors, which Schultz stated it is severely unequipped for. From neighborhood disputes to public intoxication and littering, Schultz and her neighbors said they have witnessed what they call the unfortunate results of housing a trailhead with little to no supporting infrastructure.

A petition approaching 1,000 supporters was drafted by the Wood of Westlake homeowners association in early June, which seeks to characterize what the document describes as years of dangerous behavior and potential ecological damage. The group also sent a letter to Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar to request metered parking, routine patrolling and increased signage.

“While we support public access to the city park, there has to be some kind of compromise and solution,” the letter states.

Following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, city officials indefinitely closed primary greenbelt access June 2, which included the Trails End access, but Schultz said the greenbelt issues will proceed once it reopens.


Due to the lack of public parking, restrooms and policing, Schultz said the entry point poses several safety hazards, and she has witnessed public nudity and frequent public intoxication. Neighbors have even opened their mailboxes to find empty beer cans, she said.

“We just don’t go outside,” Schultz said. “The neighbors don’t send their kids to ride bikes anymore; there’s just too much traffic.”

One proposed solution has been the implementation of a new pilot parking program on Scottish Woods Trail, near Camp Craft Road, which is set to launch as early as mid-July, according to Sam Haynes, a public information specialist for the transportation department.

Haynes said the department has been working closely with residents and will conduct stakeholder outreach prior to rolling out the program, which experienced delays due to the current greenbelt closure.

Further details have not been released, but Haynes said the program will not include the installation of parking meters.

While Schultz said she believes this will deter some visitors from entering the trailhead, traffic is not the only issue.

The neighboring Lost Creek community in the Westlake area has reported similar concerns regarding its greenbelt access, leading the Lost Creek Limited District to vote May 13 to charge nonresidents utilizing the entrance point.

Schultz said Lost Creek residents have seen some success from this initiative; however, Wood of Westlake is not a limited district and would be unable to enact a similar fee system.

“We’re part of Austin,” Schultz said. “Technically, the city of Austin is supposed to be maintaining that trail. ... We don’t own anything with regard to that entrance.”

According to Schultz, the HOA is open to possibly contracting private security to ensure residents’ safety but would require a method for recuperating costs as well as further information into the legality of private patrolling.

In the event the situation does not improve, Schultz said the HOA believes the access point should be relocated to an area better equipped to handle the influx of visitors.

“It’s not about a privileged neighborhood wanting the trail to ourselves. ... It’s not about making it exclusive for the neighbors, and it’s certainly not about closing down access,” Schultz said. “It’s about making it safe so that everyone can coexist.”
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Body20 is now open in the Hill Country Galleria. (Courtesy Giant Noise Public Relations)
New tech-focused fitness studio opens in the Hill Country Galleria

The studio offer tech-enhanced workouts using electro-muscle stimulation suits.

Santa meets with children at the city of Lakeway's previous Lights On! event. (Courtesy city of Lakeway)
Holiday events happening this weekend in Lake Travis-Westlake

The city of Lakeway and Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce are putting on two holiday events in Lake Travis-Westlake on Dec. 4.

Consuelo Mendez Middle School has consistently received poor ratings from the Texas Education Agency. (Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: State could take over AISD school board if poorly-rated campus does not improve; new furniture store to open in McKinney and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 3.

Derrick Chubbs is leaving Austin for a food bank in Florida. (Courtsey Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank CEO Derrick Chubbs steps down

Derrick Chubbs is leaving Austin for a food bank in Florida.

Police Chief Glen Koen meets with members of the community at the Lakeway Police Department meet and greet event on Dec. 2. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway Police Department welcomes chief with meet and greet

Lakeway community members met with new police Chief Glen Koen on Nov. 2.

Santa Claus visits with two festival attendees at Westlake Wonderfest. (Courtesy of Westlake Chamber of Commerce)
Westlake Wonderfest holiday event coming Dec. 5

Families can head to West Lake Hills this weekend to enjoy Westlake Wonderfest for free.

Consuelo Mendez Middle School has consistently received poor ratings from the Texas Education Agency. (Community Impact Newspaper)
State could take over AISD school board if poorly rated campus does not improve next year

If the school does receive an improved rating, the state's commissioner of education could replace every member of Austin ISD's school board.

Austin ISD trustee Noelita Lugo argues for breaking down student achievement measures by race in the district's 2021-2026 scorecard, rather than examining only economically disadvantaged students without racial groups. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD considers how to measure equity gaps in academic achievement

Austin ISD trustees are continuing to work out details of the 2021-2026 district scorecard, which measures progress on equity goals.

Austin City Council made changes to arts and library funding among other decisions Dec. 2. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Arts community, homeless health care program get funding, plus other actions

City Council approved more than 50 items Dec. 2, changing the Office of Civil Rights, doling out funding and more.

Council Member Greg Casar speaks at a press conference outside City Hall ahead of a vote to approve an ordinance granting the Austin Office of Civil Rights enforcement power. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Office of Civil Rights granted new powers

An ordinance passed by Austin City Council on Dec. 2 creates additional civil and criminal penalties for discrimination.

The school board will consider whether to call a special election to fill the vacancy or make an appointment. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Hays CISD to hold special meeting on resignation of board member; Montgomery approves plan for downtown and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 2.