In November, the city of Leander postponed plans for Lakewood Community Park, but in January city leaders said there is hope to return to the original park master plan.
Leander voters approved plans for Lakewood Park in May 2014 and funding for the park amenities in a May 2016 bond election. The park is set to be built adjacent to the Cold Springs and Hazelwood subdivisions and would include amenities, such as a playscape, a splash pad, a skate park, trails and a dog park.
The city previously ran into challenges with the park when the property owner of the Crystal Springs neighborhood, Buffington Homes, walked away from developing the neighborhood after funding fell through, said Mark Tummons, Leander Parks and Recreation Department director. The original developer of Crystal Springs had donated about 30 acres of property for the park project, and the main vehicular entrance to the park was originally planned to go through the undeveloped Crystal Springs neighborhood.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department last spring awarded Leander a $400,000 grant, which had to be used on Lakewood Park by January 2018, Tummons said. In order to move forward on the park, the firm designing Lakewood Park—Halff Associates—updated the master plan to fit the amenities onto the city’s remaining 70 acres. The new design also created a temporary vehicular access to the park through the Cold Springs subdivision.
The Cold Springs neighborhood was originally slated to only have a hike and bike trail entrance to Lakewood Park, and more than 20 residents spoke in opposition to the vehicular entrance proposal during a public workshop in October. Three residents from the Cold Springs subdivision also spoke before City Council on Nov. 3.
Possible return to Original master plan
Tummons said he has been speaking with a representative from TPWD who told him Leander can request an extension for the grant until Jan. 30, 2019. Although the city has not received an official approval from the state, Tummons said the city has been given verbal confirmation of the extension.
Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis also said the city is in discussions with Century Communities, which is considering purchasing the Crystal Springs property. He said no issues have been raised with returning to the original park plan, which involves dedicating roughly 30 acres back to the park.
As of Community Impact Newspaper’s press time, representatives with Century Communities had not responded to requests for comment.
Scott Calame, a resident of the Cold Springs subdivision and former board member of the Cold Springs HOA, was one of three residents who spoke against the revised plan during a Leander City Council meeting Nov. 3. He said he was relieved to hear the city could possibly revert back to the original plan.
“Given how the parks bond measure was sold to residents, [this] should have never been a question,” he said. “This was a good lesson for city management that it can’t waver from its promises and an example of how residents can fight City Hall and win.”
Tummons said a new owner of Crystal Springs would have to go through an approval process with the city, and if all goes well the parks department would revert back to the original master plan with a few small changes. He said the department is working on moving a parking lot closer to Lake Lakewood, the lake at the south end of the park, to allow those with kayaks and paddleboards easier access to the water.
“Basically everything else would stay the same, aside from that minor revision to the park,” he said. “We would revert back to the original master plan, which is what we were hoping for to begin with.”