For Immediate Release:
Contact: Steve Wiener- 512-626-4025 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Austin Neighborhood Opposes Western Hills Little League Sports Complex
The Western Hills Little League (WHLL) has signed a long-term lease with the Eanes Independent School District (EISD) to develop a large-scale sports complex in the midst of Lake Austin residential neighborhoods. Substantial opposition and concern has arisen among area neighbors with regard to the potential environmental, traffic safety, water quality and financial impacts to the neighborhood and local governments.
The proposed sports complex is wrong for this location.
- The proposed sports complex is huge; 51 acre with over 800 parking spaces.
- This site is in the middle of single, family neighborhoods with unsuitable access to safely accommodate the significant traffic increases that will result.
The topography of the site is not conducive to the development of the proposed facility, which includes 4 soccer fields, 8 baseball fields, 4 tennis courts and a large gymnasium.
- An earlier feasibility study for EISD notes the topography of the site will require substantial cuts and fills to prepare the site for construction of large, flat surfaces needed for ball fields and parking lots. Significant governmental variances will be required.
Portions of the proposed site are habitat for endangered species and include critical environmental features.
- An environmental assessment undertaken for the district reported three critical environmental features on the site as defined by the City.
- The assessment noted that portions of the site were habitat for endangered species. The proposed sports complex would require extensive clearing, potentially damaging or destroying the habitat.
- EISD’s engineering reports indicate that this tract is in the Critical Water Quality Zone of the Colorado River. The tract is within a Water Quality Transition Zone and Upland Zone. Storm water run-off from the site discharges into area creeksand subsequently into Lake Austin, the source of drinking water for the City of Austin and several water districts.
WHLL is planning to operate the Sports Complex year-round from 6 am to 10:30 pm.
- WHLL has indicated that the Sports Complex is expected to be open every day of the year, including holidays. WHLL will not agree to any limitations for use on the site for youths only.
- This schedule is more appropriate for a facility located in a commercial area, rather than a low-density, residential neighborhood.
- Light and sound pollution will negatively affect neighborhoods that have been in existence for decades.
Existing roads are inadequate to support the additional traffic.
- The proposed site is one mile into the middle of a residential area. There is only one access road to the site, River Hills Rd., a narrow, winding road, with no shoulders or turn lanes and one which has numerous tight curves with very limited site distances.
- The school district’s consulting engineers reported in 1995, as part of a feasibility study for a new school on the site, that the site needed significant road improvements to safely handle expected traffic increase. At peak traffic periods, the Sports Complex would generate thousands of additional vehicle trips on River Hills Road.
- Currently, there is no signal at the intersection of River Hills Road and RM 2244. Signalizing this intersection is problematic from a safety point of view because of the limited sight distances on RM 2244 that result from the hilltop just west of the intersection, and the significant traffic flow at 60 mph on RM2244.
- From a cost point of view, rationalizing the intersection would be very expensive because of the need for property acquisition and substantial cut and fills required.
The Proposed Sports Complex model is not right for this site or this community.
The site limitations described above suggest that the proposed sports complex is not appropriate for this site or this neighborhood. A sports complex of this scale may be suitable for a relatively flat, suburban or rural tract of land, with compatible neighboring land uses, good roadway access, and waste water collection and treatment capabilities. The River Hills site has none of these attributes.