Lake Travis - Westlake Edition | June 2021

CITY& COUNTY

News from Austin & Travis County

City buying land off Bull Creek in Northwest Austin for continuous nature trails, added parkland

CLOSERTOACONNECTION

The city of Austin is negotiating for two plots along Bull Creek. If completed, it would connect Bull Creek District Park and St. Edward’s Park.

BY IAIN OLDMAN

trails. These trails will help connect the existing trail systems between the 47-acre Bull Creek District Park and the 80-acre St. Edward’s Park to create one continuous Bull Creek trail and greenbelt. Though delivery of these trails is years o, local parks advocates say this 7-mile stretch of trail network will add much-needed access to green space for Austin residents. The land features accessible blus that could one day provide a scenic overlook across the rolling hills of Northwest Austin, according to Randy Scott, park development coordinator with the city of Austin. About 1,900 linear square feet of Bull Creek runs through the Hough trust property and the adjacent

11 acres, formerly known as the Spicewood Lodge property. The two properties also directly neighbor the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, an urban nature and wild- life preserve that covers about 50 square miles of land across western Travis County. Bull Creek Foundation President Rachel McGill said direct contact with a nature preserve comes with a responsibility to be extra vigilant as stewards of the environment. On the eastern side of Spicewood Springs Road across from the Hough trust property, a plot of land called the Stenis Tract serves as a water quality site, according to McGill. The Stenis Tract is so sensitive that dogs are not allowed on the property.

AUSTIN Members of the Austin City Council voted March 22 to begin negotiations on a 10-acre plot of land o Bull Creek in Northwest Austin that is among the last plots of land needed to create a continuous Bull Creek Greenbelt. This parcel of land is near Spice- wood Springs Road and Loop 360, and according to council documents, the city will spend up to $3.51 mil- lion—funded through bond funds and parkland dedication developer fees—to purchase it from the T.E. and Juanita H. Hough Living Trust. The city plans to use this property, combined with an adjacent 11-acre plot of land currently under eminent domain proceedings, to build nature

APPROXIMATE BOUNDARY OF AFFECTED AREA

183

SPICEWOOD SPRINGS RD.

360

2222

SPICEWOOD SPRINGS RD.

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Read the full story at communityimpact.com .

Toxin levelsdeclinebut blue-greenalgaestill present inHighlandLakes

Central Health to re-examine homestead exemptions

BY AMY RAE DADAMO

after swimming in the lake. Every sample collected since February has contained the toxin, according to the LCRA. However, current toxicity levels are not as high as earlier reports. The LCRA will conduct additional lab testing following days of heavy rainfall in late May and early June. “These samples were collected before the recent rains, and we are eager to see the net eect of the rainy weather will be on the algae,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president for water.

TRAVIS COUNTY Harmful blue- green algae, or cyanotoxin, continues to be present in the Highland Lakes, according to a June 2 statement from the Lower Colorado River Authority. Algae samples collected May 25 from the Travis Landing region of Lake Travis tested positive for dihy- droanatoxin-a—a type of cyanotoxin that can be dangerous when ingested by animals or humans. LCRA rst reported cyanotoxins in Lake Travis in February after receiv- ing reports that four dogs became ill

BY IAIN OLDMAN

TRAVIS COUNTY Following a period of soaring growth in the total value of taxable properties in Travis County, ocials at Central Health said they are looking at the organization’s homestead exemptions. Je Knodel, vice president and chief nancial ocer at Central Health, told the Central Health board of managers May 26 that his oce will work with Travis County through June to examine property tax homestead exemptions, particularly for residents over 65 years of age or homestead exemption is capped at 20%, the maximum allowed by law, according to documents from the health care district. Further, residents over 65 or residents with disabilities who pay property taxes to Central Health can currently utilize homestead exemptions up to $85,500 annually. The district is currently looking at those gures and could adjust them to give further tax relief. residents with a disability. Central Health’s general

Cyanotoxin is a toxin produced at times from cyanobacteria, often described as blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria can produce harmful algae blooms.

Swimming suspended at Hamilton Pool Preserve for foreseeable future

BY AMY RAE DADAMO

TRAVIS COUNTY Recreational activity at Hamilton Pool Preserve will be limited for the foreseeable future due to falling rocks, according to an announcement from Travis County Parks. The well-utilized natural swimming hole at 24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, was impacted by Texas’ February winter storm. Preserve visitors may use the beach but cannot swim below the 50-foot waterfall or any of the overhang. Travis County also closed the trail underneath the cli. Saturday guided hikes are also suspended.

The Hamilton Pool waterfall and clis are currently o- limits. (Mel Stea/Community Impact Newspaper)

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LAKE TRAVIS  WESTLAKE EDITION • JUNE 2021

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