City of Dripping Springs declines Town Center purchase agreement after school district's approval

Dripping Spring's Town Center Project would create a new city hall facility as well as city library, parking and a town square. (Concept plan courtesy the city of Dripping Springs)
Dripping Spring's Town Center Project would create a new city hall facility as well as city library, parking and a town square. (Concept plan courtesy the city of Dripping Springs)

Dripping Spring's Town Center Project would create a new city hall facility as well as city library, parking and a town square. (Concept plan courtesy the city of Dripping Springs)

Updated: April 29, 5:50 p.m.

In a joint statement released by the city of Dripping Springs and Dripping Springs ISD, both entities said the decisions to terminate the latest Town Center Project sales agreement were made "after thorough and exhaustive consideration."

In the statement DSISD Board President Barbara Stroud said that the district still supports the Town Center Project.

“As noted by our continued partnership efforts with the city, despite the termination of the interlocal agreement on the Town Center Project, trustees enthusiastically supported the sale of property for the development of the Town Center Project,” Stroud said. “This innovative program envisioned first by the city had and continues to have the potential to serve our community in a significant and positive way."

According to the city, the next steps for the Town Center Project's planning will be discussed on May 10 at the next meeting of the Tax

Increment Reinvestment Zone Board.

Original post: April 28, 9:32 p.m.

The city of Dripping Springs has declined the most recent sales agreement from Dripping Springs ISD to purchase the district’s Mercer Street administrative property for the future Town Center Project.

City Council unanimously voted against the proposal at a special meeting April 28, stating that the agreement too strictly limited future development plans for the property.

As designed through preliminary planning, through the Town Center Project the city would build a new city hall, as well as a Dripping Springs Community Library building and small-town square or park on land currently owned by DSISD. The proposal would also add parking to the city’s downtown.

“I am disappointed in the agreement that we received back from the school,” Mayor Pro Tem Taline Manassian said. “For the last four years, we with the county and the library and the district have been planning the Town Center on the school site. The ask of the district was always that they sell us the land.”

According to City Attorney Laura Mueller, the proposed agreement—which was approved by DSISD trustees on April 26—would restrict the city from selling off part of the land for private development. If the city were to offer part of the land to a non-governmental entity, through the agreement, the school district would have the ability to purchase back the land at fair market value.

“I can't support an agreement that restricts our ability to develop that property as we deem appropriate,” Manassian said. “Right now, we have every reason to think that the city and library will be on that property, and we anticipate if that happens, that there would be a very limited amount of commercial development on that land. But, we’re a city and we need flexibility to adapt should our needs change, should the economy change.”

In past proposals, she said the city has offered to pay fair market value for the property and to take on the financial responsibility to demolish current structures and to prepare the site for development. The city also has stated in writing its commitment to the Town Center Project concept, and that it would sell the land back to the district if those plans were abandoned, she said.

“All of that was not enough to convince the district to move forward with the sale without restricting our ability to develop the Town Center as we deem appropriate,” Manassian said. “I can support an agreement that allows the city to buy the property back if our plans change, but I cannot support one that has a use restriction.”

In March, DSISD trustees terminated an interlocal agreement with the city regarding the Town Center Project, citing insufficient assurances that the property would actually be used for Town Center purposes.

However, negotiations between the parties continued through April, leading to trustees approving the new sales agreement April 26. Board President Barbara Stroud said the board’s vote signified the district's ongoing commitment to the project.

"We support a Town Center Project. We have supported it for a long time, and we continue to support it," Stroud said April 26.
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


Tacodeli co-owners Roberto Espinosa and Eric Wilkerson opened their first location in 1999. The seventh location for the local chain in Austin will open this summer in Circle C. (Courtesy Tacodeli)
Tacodeli to open a Circle C location this summer

The new location will be the seventh in Austin for the locally based chain, which first opened in 1999.

The city of Austin's Smart Mobility Office has partnered with Ford on self-driving vehicle initiatives. (Courtesy Ford Motor Company)
Austin's transportation department paving the way for rise in autonomous vehicle traffic

Several private companies are working on autonomous vehicle initiatives in Austin in addition to the city's own smart infrastructure planning.

Goodfolks plans to open in late July to early August. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
New restaurant coming to Georgetown; new Hutto community to have nearly 1K lots and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

COVID-19 precautions such as a masking requirement remain in place at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
'Signs of hope' on the horizon at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after year-plus dip in air travel

Rising passenger counts, new airline operations and an increase in vaccinations could all support the airport's recovery in 2021.

Capital Metro bus
Capital Metro announces increased transit services for Austin FC games this season

Capital Metro has increased the frequency of several bus routes for Austin FC game days at Q2 Stadium.

CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Students at Norman-Sims Elementary School and Austin ISD's 124 other schools across the district will now be allowed to remove masks during outdoor physical activities with the permission of a parent or guardian. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD makes outdoor masking optional, eases other health, safety restrictions

Students engaging in outdoor physical activity will now have the option to remove masks.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin's phased process for moving people experiencing homelessness out of unregulated encampments will roll out through the summer. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
City officials detail homeless education and enforcement plan with Proposition B ordinances now in effect

The process that will eventually remove the city's homeless encampment begins this month with outreach and warnings and will stretch until late summer with full enforcement.