Development delayed for Williamson County park; amenities to be added

New county park planned between Leander, Liberty Hill River Ranch County Park will be located between Leander and Liberty Hill with an entrance off Bagdad Road.[/caption]

The opening date for a future Williamson County park planned between Leander and Liberty Hill has been delayed due to surveying until 2018, but the state-level park will now receive more facilities.

The first phase of River Ranch County Park, which is proposed to cover 1,011 acres of land, was originally expected to open in July 2017. Randy Bell, Williamson County Parks and Recreation senior director, said Phase 1 is now expected to open in spring or summer 2018.Development delayed for WilCo park; amenities to be added

“We remain extremely excited about this project and know that the public is going to love it,” he said. “We’re not alarmed by the delays because we want to get this right.”

Phase 1 of the park will cost about $8 million and include about 320 acres. The county would fund the construction of an equestrian center, more than 100,000 feet of trails, an entrance, a day-use facility, camping utilities and grounds, internal infrastructure, a park residence and a maintenance facility.

The county is working with Austin-based Design Workshop to design the master plan for the park. Steven Spears, a partner with Design Workshop, said the plan would place many of the park amenities in the southern portion of the land, leaving the northern portion to be more natural for trails and to take advantage of the landscape and scenery.

“One of the most dynamic things about the park is just the massive size and scale that it is,” Spears said. “Nobody can deny that that part of Williamson County continues to grow with more suburban development.”

Bell said the county wants to make sure the large-scale project is safe for public use while preserving the natural aspects that make the land unique.

“We want to build facilities in the environment, not just bulldoze a line from point A to point B,” he said. “We want to work with the terrain and the geological aspects. You try to make it so things don’t stick out, so to speak.”

Spears said in 15 years, the park could be seen as an oasis of nature.

“The most amazing thing is that the county has the foresight to go purchase this land to ensure that nature is still part of Williamson County as we continue to grow,” he said.

The county purchased the property in 2008 with $10 million in bond funds approved by voters in 2006. County officials planned to fund the project with the $40 million in park bond funds approved by voters in 2013.

Bell said the county received a grant in March from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to add an interpretive center to the park. The $750,000 matching grant will result in $1.5 million available for an interpretive outdoor education center, which Bell said will enhance the county’s goal of turning River Ranch into a state park-like experience.

“We can have buildings to help support that, classrooms, office space,” Bell said. “It would be similar to a center you might see at a national or state park or nature center. It’s outdoor education to help people learn more about the park.”

According to the proposal, the developments would include a 3,100-square-foot building with a classroom, exhibit space and displays; interpretive signs; an outdoor classroom with a fireplace on the porch; meeting space; a reference library; an office; and restrooms.

Bell said the development has seen delays in several places, though topographical, tree and environmental surveys are mostly complete. The county has been waiting to conduct a study on the golden cheeked warbler, an endangered bird species, which Bell said should take this place in April.

The county changed the location of the entrance, which was originally proposed to be off of CR 282 in Liberty Hill.

“There’s challenges turning in and out, especially with the sight line. There’s bends in the roadway,” he said. “When you have people puling trailers, you need turn lanes, acceleration and deceleration lanes.”

Instead, Bell said the county worked with a neighboring landowner and gained property on the east side of the park, off Bagdad Road, to construct the entrance.

Bell said the current goal is to have construction documents for the park completed and ready for advertising in September, and the construction schedule for Phase 1 could last about eight to nine months.


Travis County has added 3,069 new confirmed cases over the past week from July 6-12. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County adds 3,069 new coronavirus cases over past week

Travis County has added 3,069 new confirmed cases over the past week from July 6-12.

A sign directs voters inside Ridgetop Elementary School in North Central Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
11.8% of voters in Travis County have voted early since June 29, exceeding 2018 primary numbers

More than 97,000 Travis County residents have voted in person or by mail. The turnout far surpassed the combined early and Election Day totals in the 2018 primary run-off election.

A photo of the potential Tesla property
Travis County updates Tesla incentive package, pushing for $1 billion-plus investment from the company

Poised for a possible July 13 vote, Travis County has released a refined incentives structure proposal with electric carmaker Tesla.

The Williamson County and Cities Health District confirmed 37 additional coronavirus cases July 10, bringing the total to 3,654. (Community Impact Staff)
37 new cases of coronavirus, 1 death confirmed in Williamson County on July 10

Currently, 103 patients are hospitalized, 32 are in intensive care and 16 are on a ventilator.

The species that tested positive for West Nile Virus is Culex quinquefasciatus, or the southern house mosquito. This species has a flight range of about one mile. ​(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus near southwest Williamson County Regional Park

There have been no reported human cases of West Nile Virus in Williamson County since 2017.

Williamson County sees 844 new coronavirus cases this week

Between July 4 and July 10, Williamson County also reported 9 additional deaths.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

DATA: Leander sales tax revenue jumped 40% in May; Cedar Park stayed steady

Leander sales tax revenue spiked 40% in May 2020 compared to May 2019 data.

Cedar Park OKs $61.5M in 3 ordinances for bonds, certificates of obligation

The bonds and certificates of obligation will fund the planned library, parks, street improvements, drainage projects and the Brushy Creek wastewater plant expansion.