Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Weather, Activity Center, State of Lakeway and a Birthday!

*****Weather*****

Did you know we had a thunderstorm last night?  It woke me up about 2:45 a.m. with a BOOM!  I haven't seen any damage yet - I'm sure there was some somewhere.  Hopefully not a home.  We received almost half an inch of rain - here's a link to current conditions at the 15th Tee of Live Oak.  If you haven't, click the link and check out the current conditions.  Pretty mild temperatures for January, a chance of rain Thursday and Friday and a nice weekend.

*****Activity Center*****

Lots going on at the Activity Center - here's a link to all the goings on.  They are also asking you renew your membership before Feb. 1 so they won't have to send a written request and spend money on stamps and supplies.

*****Mayor's Update*****

Last Thursday, Mayor Cox presented another "State of Lakeway" report.  9 residents attended, but I'm sure there were some watching on the video stream - at least one asked a question.

Lots of talk about improving the safety on 620 including the median scheduled to be put in this summer.  The 620 expansion project is scheduled to start in August of 2022 - although some delay is expected.

Talked a lot about internal roads - Main and Medical.  Still no info about when Stratus will build their part of Main (required) and money will have to be added to Legends part of the road because the city turned down the project that included the 4 lane blvd.

Talk of the Comprehensive Plan committee finishing up, looks like there is lots of wording changes but not much real change to the map.  Looks like the officials over the years have done a pretty good job.  There will be a public showing in the near future.  They keep talking about an economic development plan.

Talked some about the "Rec" center.  Translation is YMCA.  The city would be on the hook to supply the building and land, ($20 Million Up),ugh.  One issue I have with this is the percentage of residents that would use this from our community.  It will also draw significant subscribers from outside the community that means more traffic.  How many of you use the YMCA and would use one here?  Up to this point, the clubs took care of the overflow, do we want to change?

Talked about the justice center remodel.  Now it is up to about $2.5 Million, originally we felt it could have been done for $500K - haven't seen any details.  Originally the Parks and Rec. Dept. would go there, now they want Building and Development to move there.  Previous administrations felt like BDS should stay close to administration.

Talk of it being a good time to borrow money.  That's true, but I feel like it needs to be really necessary to borrow, not just to spend money because it is cheap to borrow.  

Questions about Serene Hills Project - from Flintrock to Lakeway Blvd. there are three players, Travis County, The Village of the Hills and Lakeway.

Question about Wildfire Project.  City is already spending significant funds on a prioritized process to work on the worst areas.  This is another expense that costs a lot but only affects a very small percentage of the population.

Question about the Deer situation, nothing this year - we will have more next year to deal with.
*****

Gerald Daugherty
Charlyn Daugherty
Nancy and I were honored to attend Commissioner Daugherty's 70th birthday party Sunday.  He has been a real asset to the city of Lakeway for many years and is retiring from the office of County Commissioner this year.  I'm sure he will continue to work for the community, he has a real passion for transportation and knows the in's and out's of mass transit and roads.  He certainly helped me to get the money for the 620 expansion project from CAMPO.  Thanks Gerald and Happy Birthday!  He's also a partner in Jack Allen's Kitchen and Salt Trader - if you haven't tried them yet, I suggest you take the time - good food and great service!

If you're interested in the Lakeway Church Construction, here's a picture of the work getting ready for the slab to be poured.

I also have a picture of the Hospital Campus you might enjoy.  



That's all for today!  Hope you enjoy the blog.  If you would like to be added to my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get you added.

Don't forget to think about Sky Pictures if you need aerial photo's.  The weather has bee pretty good lately!

More as I find out!

Joe Bain







Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Weather and Council!

*****Weather*****

Well, they promised rain and believe it or not we have received about half an inch!  If you want to keep up withe the current conditions here's a link to the weather station on the 15th Tee of Live Oak Golf course.

*****Council*****

Here's a link to the agenda and here'a a link to the video.  It was a short one, ended at 11:40 p.m.

First on the list was the Consent Agenda.  No Citizen Participation.  After a moment of hesitation, it was passed unanimously.

12)  Financial Report given by Shereen Gendy.  Property tax and sales tax make up more than 70% of the budget for the 2020 fiscal year.  As the end of December the city has collected about 50% of the property tax and 27% of the sales tax.  YTD revenues were $4.5M which has a favorable variance from budget primarily from increased sales tax.  Expenses were under budget primarily because of timing issues.

13)  Status of Previous business - none

14)  Proclamation to Yound Mens Service League mainly for gift of labor to the Hamilton Greenbelt Clean-up.  The Mayor proclaimed January 21 as "Young Men's Service League Cavalier's Chapter Day" in Lakeway.

15)  Council passed a resolution suspending the effective date of the requested increase to allow further time to study and negotiate the new rate.  Passed unanimously.

16)  Council Meeting Schedule.  30 minutes of discussion about how to spend less time....  Discussion on having agenda out a week before the meeting, putting more items on the consent agenda, evening meetings for those working, concern for staff and scheduling staff time.

Decision was two meetings a month, 1st and 3rd Monday at 6:30 p.m.  Passed unanimously.

17)  Update on the new website.  Easier and quicker to get to information.  

18)  General election ordinances:
Little discussion, Mr. Kilgore spoke requesting council rethink suspending the charter and moving back to 3 year terms.  Approved 6-1 with Council Member Vance voting no.

19)  Resolution accepting parkland in Serene Hills.  Presentation given by Andra Bennet (Parks & Rec. Director).  Carried unanimously.

20)  Lakeway Estates Parkland update.  

21)  Tabled until February 28 meeting.

22)  SUP for 2300 Lohmans Spur, passed unanimously except for Kumar who abstained because of a business relationship.

23)  Council had much discussion on several projects.  When the discussion was opened to the public, council learned not only did the Preserve not know about the proposed road extension (Farris)  but they are completely opposed to that.  Who requested the extension of Farris?  Do not include Clubhouse to Clara Van.  Do not make the right lane Southbound at CVS right turn only.  No action taken.

24)  Presentation from Bond Attorney.  $31.5M bond debt outstanding and it drops off in 2028.  Bond rating is AA1 - AAA is best but city's our size have a hard time getting AAA.  Interesting comment by Bond Attorney, said values are increasing so if the council doesn't do something there would be pressure to lower tax rate - exactly!  Lakeway's net debt is low compared to other cities - this is because of the conservative management over the last 60 years.  Talking in terms of borrowing 20-50 million dollars for projects.  

May bond will have to be have to called by February 14.  Before the next regular council meeting - August 17 for the November election.
Possible Project Costs:  Blue - items put off, Orange Unsure, items on current list.
  • 2 Lanes on Main ST $3.7M?
  • Sidewalks   $3.5M
  • Shared Use Path     $4.5M
  • Possible Rec Center    $30M
  • Justice Center Reno     $2.1M
  • City Hall Reno     $307K (This does not include enlargement
  • TxDOT     $5M Pledge for 620, Possible ROW $2.5M
  • Bury Utility on 620 -     $20M 
$63M total for possible projects.

This discussion was confusing and had many twists and turns.  Until they make more solid decisions, the above is just a swag.

No decision made.

25)  Amendment to smoking ordinance to add Vaping.

26)  No citizens left to participate in Citizen Participation.

Executive Session at 10:44 p.m.

Return 11:37

32)  Allow Mayor to offer contract for City Manager to Julie Oakley.

Adjourned 11:38 p.m.

**********

That's all for right now, more as it happens!

Thanks for the support!  I look forward to serving on the Charter Review Committee and getting it back in order.

If you would like to be added to my email list, please send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get you added.

Joe Bain








Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Special Edition - Rain Coming / Report of Altercation Death at Lakeway Resort

*****Quick Weather*****

In case you haven't heard, rain tomorrow, up to an inch in the area.  Sorry about the traffic commute if you have one, but we really need the rain.  Sprinkles Thursday morning and nice after that!

*****Lakeway Resort Death*****

You won't hear it from the city, but there was an altercation at the Lakeway Resort Parking garage that resulted in the death of Frank Terlip a 66 year old male.

There was a 911 call reporting a fight in the garage and when officers arrived they found Houston on top of Terlip - after they were separated, Terlip was unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

Evidently Houston left the Dallas / Fort Worth area with Terlip's adult daughter to escape an "abusive" relationship.  Terlip found them and confronted Houston and an altercation started.

Houston claimed he instituted a choke hold on Terlip with the intent of getting him to "pass out".

Based on the interview with Houston and the witness statement, investigators felt Houston's actions "exceeded the necessary force necessary to defend himself".  

Henry Thomas Houston, 54 is charged with second-degree felony manslaughter for the death.  

**********
Expect another post tonight or tomorrow with the results of the Council meeting.

Joe Bain


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Weather and City Council Agenda

*****Weather*****

OK, it's time for a change.  Either rain or clear up, I'm getting soggy.  Over the last week we've had a high of 80.2°, a low of 45.5° and about .15 inch of rain.  The good news is the forecast is for clearing sky's this afternoon and a little sun until Monday.  It's going to cool off for a couple of nights and the clouds move back in Tuesday and a chance of rain through the middle of the week.  Not too bad for January!


*****Council*****

Get ready, here we go again.  Here is a link to the agenda / packet - give it a minute, it's a big one.  In all, there are 32 items (if you don't count the adjournment, including six (6) executive session items.

Lets start with the Consent agenda.  Item 6 is appointing members to the Charter Review Committee. Here are the nominee's:

Dave DeOme (Chair), Nominated by Mayor Cox
Todd Buikema             Nominated by Laurie Higginbotham
Jim Powell                   Nominated by Doug Howell
Terry Rishel                 Nominated by Sanjeev Kumar
Tim Collins                  Nominated by Louis Mastrangelo
Joe Bain                       Nominated by Steve Smith
Tom Kilgore                Nominated by Gretchen Vance

I think it's interesting that a person that is suing the city over the charter (Tom Kilgore) is nominated to the Charter Review Committee.  I guess it's legal but seems a little strange.  The council can choose to accept or deny appointments, it should be interesting.

14)  Proclamation recognizing the Young Men's Service League for their work on the Hamilton Greenbelt Clean-up Project.

15)  This is a resolution suspending the effective date of Texas gas service company's requested rate increase.  This only affects the Serene Hills folks that actually have natural gas service in our city.  Looks like they want more time for negotiation.  Generally the large cities handle the negotiation.

16)  This will be a discussion of the coouncil meeting schedule for 2020.  As indicated by this agenda, they expect the meetings to continue to last into the wee hours of the night.  They are scheduling a "Special" meeting each month, why a Special?  Sounds like a regular meeting to handle the load....

17)  In case you haven't noticed yet, they've changed the website.  It's different and so far looks pretty good.  The Communications Director will make a presentation.

18)  This is an ordinance calling the General Election for 3 council members.  Looks like so far 3 incumbents are running for re-election, we need some folks to step up and work for the city instead of against it!

19)  Trying again to accept parkland for Serene Hills, LTD.  They probably have all the kinks worked out this time.

20)  Update on the Lakeway Estates parkland dedication - there were lots of questions the last time this came forward.

21)   Zoning change for 704 Serene Estate Dr.  making .45 acres a private park.  This was tabled by ZAPCO until their February 5th meeting and I suspect no action will be taken.

22)  SUP to allow a pet grooming and grooming training facility in Ste. 192 of the strip center where Chair King is.  Because they back up to residential property (new homes on Lohmans Spur) they have to get a Special Use Permit.

23)  Council will review "potential" transportation projects and funding sources.  This will be interesting, "funding" probably means "bond" and they will be talking about the projects the Mayor has been pushing along.  

The 620 project was moved ahead because of a promise that Lakeway would contribute $5M toward the project.  The city is also on the hook for some part of the purchase of Right of Way, haven't seen any public info on this, seems it is going on in the executive sessions.... Hopefully this won't be significant, but with the 10 feet of mixed use (walking and bicycle) on each side of RR620, this could be an issue.   Can you picture walkers and family bicycle riders on the side of 620?   Me either.

24)  Of course, once you talk about funding, we now hear from the bond attorney and financial advisor on how much we can spend an what it will cost.

25)  Amendment to Chapter 10, to add vaping to our smoking ordinance.  

26)  Citizens Participation - what time will it be?  Any guesses?

27)  Executive Session - Lakeway MUD Property Request and 620 Widening Project - maybe ROW purchase costs?

28)  Executive Session - Looks like they are talking about the Cherry Knoll case.  I guess an update - I have done my deposition - about the most thrilling 5 hours I've spent lately.  It may actually go to trial, it was dismissed twice and appealed.  For a project where the city had an agreement that neither party would sue, this has become expensive.

29)  Executive Session - Update on Project Granite?  Economic Development Negotiations?  This has been going on for months, when is something going to be said about what it is?

30)  Executive Session - More discussion on Real Estate issues relating to the Oaks PUD / Stratus Properties.  

31)  Executive Session - Looks like they are looking at the Development agreement  done in the Lakeway Highlands and Rough Hollow.

32)  Executive Session - Apparently they are not finished with the City Manager Position.  That's taken longer than expected since they didn't do a search as was planned nor even opened that position for applicants as far as I can tell.

That's it - what time will it end?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Remember, this is after the Special Session last Monday that went from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.

**********
The City has a lot of SS (Secret Stuff) going on, more than I can ever remember.  I'm sure it will all come out in the end.  As always, I'll answer any questions I can and love to hear your opinions!

That's all for right now, I'll let you know if anything else pops up.  I'll be taking pictures this afternoon if the weather will permit.  Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend!

If you would like to be added to my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get you added.

Joe Bain




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Little Weather, Special Council Update and a Little More!

*****A Little Weather*****

.01 inch of rain yesterday, just mist and fog.  Much warmer for a few days (75° forecast for today) with a chance of rain.  Cooler this weekend.  January?

*****Special Council*****

Comprehensive Plan Update

Larry Harlan, Chair
the Comprehensive Plan Committee has done a great job of investigating and putting together an update of the Future Use Plan.  
Carolyn Nichols, Don Kotrady
  • The commercial and residential areas stayed pretty much the same as in the original comprehensive plan.  There was some movement on some properties but predominently the same.
  • Questions on reasons for low occupancy in commercial areas.  I have some data (and some opinion) on that.  The strip center North of Lakeway Blvd.  (Well Fargo and North) has significant vacancies.  The owner has significantly raised the rental rates and has actually driven out tenants.  If you compare that with the strip centers on 620 on either side of Lohmans stays nearly full and that has to do with the owner seeing the issues and adjusting to them.

    I also feel like many of the business that leave were very specific to the type of customer they attracted and many found there was not enough support from the population of Lakeway to keep them in business.
  • A lot of emphasis was put on increase of income to the city for better amenities.  <The city was built as a rural area and the founders wanted an area that had good amenities but a continued rural setting. Should that change?  The city became a very desirable (more than any other in the area) because of the original design.>
  • There will be a loss of income from development.  <These fees are designed to pay for the permitting and inspections, not for use as general income - as those fees go down, the need for those expenses will also go down.>
  • The median age has Increased from 43.8 in 2010 to 47.7 in 2017 - that is really a huge increase in the median age for a short period of time.
  • Property Tax has increase 70% from 2007 and Sales Tax has increased 266% in that time period.
  • Once again, the council significantly disagreed with many of the results of the analysis done by the hired consultants.  Are we wasting our money?
  • No Citizen's spoke.
Transportation Study Update
  • The Committee had not met since the last meeting.
  • They tried to analyze the time savings and improvements and made estimates of possible traffic increases to show value to the expense of the city building some roads.
  • Once again, council disagreed with many of the findings of the consultant. 
  • Roads are really expensive.  That is why the city generally forced those costs to developers.  This was disrupted when the development on the MUD property was turned down instead of tabled.  Now the city is in a bind and will most likely have to build the extra lanes and distance on Main. 
  • There was also much discussion on extending Medical Drive to Lohmans.  This is also an area that will be developed and a developer will be forced to build these roads if the city doesn't do it.  Is it worth a bond to get these done sooner than when a developer does it?
  • Discussion about the shared use path in the area of where Crestview and Rolling Green intersect.  This is a bike / walk path.  Where will people come from to use this?  No parking.
  • North / South Shared Use Path (SUP) and sidewalks could be done over time.  I question who will use this?  As stated before, this was designed as rural.  Who will walk (or ride bikes) on the North / South SUP?  Will this be like the bike lanes that don't get used everywhere else?  Remember, the average age is going up, not down.
  • Taking out the county / other entities - roads / improvements  would amount to about $23/24 M bond.
  • Serene Hills was discussed.  Very pricey, would have a significant portion not in the city of Lakeway and even a component in The Village of the Hills.  Issues with the school traffic.  Issues with Right of Way to widen Serene Hills from Flintrock to Lakeway Blvd.  There is already ROW for the new part, but you need to do all of it to have it work.

    FYI, the county (Gerald Daugherty) attempted to widen and expand Serene Hills from Flintrock to Lakeway Blvd. before the new part of Serene Hills was built.  The residents in that area threw a fit and many others opposed it.  He took that money and built out Bee Creek (Highlands Extension) instead.
  • There were several projects that were dropped off the list.
Unfortunately, this rushed and was not planned well - it is too big and has too many twists and turns and has too big a funnel on projects.  Trying to get it ready for a bond in May the council voted to hire a consultant without really having good boundaries and it was done even before the committee was formed.  They should have had input on the initial study boundaries.

Policy Issues with Vaping

Mayor Pro Tem Higginbotham brought the subject of Vaping by school students to the council to see what could be done by the city to enact ordinances and effect a change in the issue.  She of course has kids in school and is concerned with what is going on in our schools.

Most council members felt a change to the city's smoking ordinance to include vaping would be fine.  There was push back on going any further because of liability issues plus freedom issues and the slippery slope on getting into social ordinances. 

Our City Attorney said she looked into ordinances passed on the West Coast - sure don't want to go there!

They also felt that education and parental oversight would be a better direction.

This discussion took over an hour, the public left and there was no citizen participation.

The meeting ended at 5:50 p.m.


*****Decoration Clean Up*****

Credit where credit is due!  I saw a group of folks that got together and cleaned up the mess of decorations around the city last weekend.  I suspect these weren't the ones that put the decorations up, they just cleaned up the others mess.  Thanks for taking the time to do this civic service.  

That's all for now, more as I find out!  If you want to be added to my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get it done.  Thanks for all the continued support!

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Special - Eck Lane Fire

*****Fire on Eck Lane*****

From Lakeway 
Wonder what the smoke was off to the North East?  There was a  three alarm major structure fire on Eck Lane Sunday - vacant buildings next to Vintage Villas.  This was caused by a  unapproved control burn on the same property.

There were no injuries or fatalities reported.  It was a mess for the residents, Eck lane has access / egress issues when there is a road closure.

Thanks to the Lake Travis Fire and Rescue for keeping this from spreading and keeping everyone safe!'
Courtesy Frank Cooley
Courtesy Frank Cooley
Link to a video of some of the fire - this is the full video, parts of which were seen on KVUE.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Texans 31, Chiefs 51.....

Joe Bain

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Weather Update, Special Council Meeting, Area Construction and More!

*****Weather*****

We pretty much skated on the severe weather Friday!  Although we did have a lot of wind - gust of 39 mph at my house and we got some pea size hail also.  We actually got about seven tenths of an inch of rain with a correction - the wind blew so hard earlier that it shook my rain gauge and added .17 inch that I subtracted.

It's going to be a little cooler through the weekend and a warming trend starts quickly - highs Tuesday and Wednesday will again be in the 70's with more clouds and a chance of rain through the week.  Enjoy the Texas weather!

*****Special Council Meeting*****

Council will meet in Special Session on Monday, January 13 at 2:00 p.m., here is the agenda / packet.

3)  Update on the Comprehensive plan - Although they have not published an addendum yet, I expect it will be significantly like the report published at the last presentation.  Should be a lively conversation although that will depend on attendance.

4)  Also an update on the "Transportation Study".  This should also be interesting.  The Council will be working on determining if a bond election is warranted to build roads that will in some cases make developers land significantly more valuable.

The attached packet has lots of information on the different areas of interest.  From maps of the areas studied, evaluation criteria, potential investment criteria, roadway congestion metrics, costs  and priorities.

There is a lot of DATA but very little agreement between the different parties and significant expense that needs to be born by parties that will benefit from road construction.  There are ways to direct those costs - taxing districts, etc. but they are sometimes hard to establish and get parties to agree to.  They also in most cases are expensive and disproportionately impart costs to future residents. 

Some parts of the study are areas that are not in the city - this means the entities that "own" these areas including the County and The Village of the Hills should be on the hook for costs.

There will already be a road bond on the ballot to pay the $5M promised to TxDOT for the 620 improvement.  There will also be some monies needed for possible Right of Way acquisition for 620.  The City is required to contribute some funds but I have no idea how much it will be.  I'm sure the city is in negotiations with TxDOT on that but it has not been publicized. 

5)  Discussion of Policy Issues Relating to Vaping Ordinances.  Ms. Higginbotham has been involved in vaping discussions in the community and the schools.  It appears that now the city might want to get into Vaping Ordinances?  Slippery Slope!  

All items are noticed for discussion and action - more after the meeting.
*****Area Construction*****

Ladies of Charity 1-11-2020
The Ladies of Charity building near the Baylor Scott and White Hospital is moving along.  They have the foundation up and most of the steel framework installed.  It's a GREAT organization, here's a link to more information

I'm told the Springhill Suites near BS&W is also moving forward.  Current forecasted opening date is sometime in March.  We'll see how that forecast holds up...

The La Quinta is moving on too - they even have drapes in the rooms.  They are forecasting end of February.  We'll have to watch that date too!

*****Area Closings*****

Another store in the Galleria is closing - Victoria Secret.  827 Rays that changed to Texas Street Grill a few months ago also shut down.  They are changing the venue type and will be open soon again.  No word yet on what's going in at Tai Spice's location - there were some negotiations with a possible Cuban Restaurant but nothing final.  There will be something there soon, nothing stays vacant there long!

That's all for right now.  More after council meets Monday - it should be over before midnight since they are starting at 2:00 p.m.

Call me for aerial photo's - joe@skypcit.com and be sure to visit the website Sky Pictures for examples of what's available.

If you would like to be added to my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get you added - please forward the blog to your neighbors and friends in Lakeway and share on Facebook!

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us