Leander takes plans for Lakewood Park “back to the drawing table”

The original master plan for Lakewood Park called for a main entrance through the Crystal Springs subdivision and a hike and bike trail entrance through the Cold Springs subdivision.

The original master plan for Lakewood Park called for a main entrance through the Crystal Springs subdivision and a hike and bike trail entrance through the Cold Springs subdivision.

Following comments from citizens during a public workshop Oct. 27 regarding the plans for Lakewood Park, the city of Leander is putting the most recent project plan on hold.

Voters approved plans for Lakewood Park park in May 2014, which is set to be built adjacent to the Cold Springs and Hazelwood subdivisions. Funding for the master plan amenities in the park, including a playscape, splash pad, skate park, trails and a dog park, were also approved by voters in a May 2016 bond election.

During a Leander City Council meeting Nov. 3, Leander Parks and Recreation Department Director Mark Tummons told council members city staff had run into three challenges with the park.

The main vehicular entrance to the park was originally planned to go through the undeveloped Crystal Springs neighborhood, but Tummons said the property owner has run into financial issues. Lakewood Park is planned to be made up of 73.5 acres of city-owned land and about 30 acres from the Crystal Springs neighborhood, so those 30 acres from the developer, Buffington Homes, would not be available.

Leander was also awarded a $400,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the spring, which had to be used on Lakewood Park by Jan. 2018, Tummons said.

“Looking at those things, we tried to bring together potential ideas to move forward,” he said.

Brandon Hay, the project manager with Halff Associates, which is designing Lakewood Park, said they came up with an update to the park’s master plan. The update created temporary vehicular access to the park through the Cold Springs subdivision, which he said would allow the city to move forward on the project.

Since the 30 acres from the Crystal Springs development are no longer available, Hay said Halff Associates also reconfigured the master plan and consolidated all of the amenities onto the 73.5-acres that is owned by the city.

The Cold Springs neighborhood was originally slated to have only a hike and bike trail entrance to Lakewood Park, and more than 20 residents spoke in opposition to the new entrance proposal during the Oct. 27 public workshop. Three residents from the Cold Springs subdivision spoke before city council Nov. 3., including Jeremy Lemoine, who said both he and his wife voted for the May 2016 bond.

“We think that the park is a great idea, however, what we were presented at the time of that bond vote was for something that had walkway access through our neighborhood,” he said. “Had it been something that had a roadway that was intended to have over 400 vehicles driving through, we would not have voted for that.”

Hay said Halff Associates anticipates the Crystal Springs subdivision would be developed in the future. Then the city would remove the temporary entrance from Cold Springs, expand the park and build the main entrance through Crystal Springs, he said.

After the Oct. 27 meeting, Hay said they would continue to find a solution to the residents’ concerns.

“Based off the comments that we received, we are going to go back to the drawing table and will continue to revise this master plan and come up with another version, which we will present at a future date,“ he told council members.

Since the public workshop, Tummons said he spoke with a representative from Texas Parks and Wildlife, who told him Leander can request an extension to the grant for Jan. 30 of 2019.

He said the city is now waiting to hear more about potential new developers for the Crystal Springs subdivision. If plans for the neighborhood move forward, he said he hopes the city will be able to return to the original master plan.

“Hopefully in 60-90 days we will know more about the property to the west of [the park], and then we can proceed forward,” Tummons said.
By Caitlin Perrone
Caitlin covers Cedar Park and Leander city councils and reports on education, transportation, government and business news. She is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Caitlin produced a large-scale investigative project with The Dallas Morning News and led education coverage in the Brazos Valley at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. After interning with Community Impact Newspaper for two summers, she joined the staff as a reporter in 2015.


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