The City of Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department is holding a second public meeting to gather public input on plans for a future Westside Park. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31 at the Community Center at 445 E. Morrow Street in San Gabriel Park.
The primary focus of the meeting is to review possible amenities suggested at the previous public meeting on January 22, as well as through input from the MindMixer site. Additionally, a preliminary concept of the park will be presented to show possible program areas within the park.
The new 90-acre park will be on the northwest side of Shell Road near Shell Spur. The property is currently undeveloped. The City purchased the 90-acre property in 2013 for $1.35 million in order to develop the land into a park on the west side of the city. Revenue from the 2008 voter-approved parks bonds was used to purchase the land.
The City also encourages you to join an online discussion at georgetownwestsidepark.mindmixer.com. The westside park could include uses such as fields for soccer and baseball, playgrounds, nature trails, picnic pavilions, and natural areas.
The Parks and Recreation Department will incorporate public input in the design of a master plan for the westside park. The master plan process is expected to take approximately six months. The construction timeline for the park will depend on utility and development projects in the area, as well as future funding.
The City of Georgetown and Capital Metro will hold an open house meeting on April 1 to get public input for a fixed-route bus system for Georgetown. The open house will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hewlett Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. A short presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The Transit Development Plan Study, initiated by the City of Georgetown and Capital Metro, will help define service plan needs for fixed-route bus service in Georgetown, including routing, service hours, frequency, and boundaries. The study will help to determine the most appropriate services and requirements for providing bus service in the community, accounting for the varied needs of the area’s population and employment markets. This study also will include recommendations for connections to potential future high-capacity services that are currently being evaluated through the Project Connect North Corridor Study.
Key Transit Development Plan Study components include:
- Reviewing relevant area studies and collecting additional data as required
- Assessing transit needs and identifying potential transit markets
- Evaluating and selecting transit alternatives for implementation
- Developing appropriate transit service and system alternatives
- Conducting public outreach activities
- Preparing a short-range operations plan
- Preparing a financial plan to support the operations and implementation plans
Georgetown has grown by more than 46 percent since 2000. In 2010, the city became part of the Austin Urbanized Area, allowing for opportunities to partner with Capital Metro to provide transit service. The outcome of this study will provide a comprehensive understanding of Georgetown’s transit needs and options. This study will include recommendations for local fixed-route service in the city and connections to potential future high-capacity bus or rail services that are currently being evaluated through the Project Connect North Corridor Study.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a plan for the Georgetown Fire Department to upgrade their capacity to provide advanced life support and conduct EMS transport. Starting on October 1, the Fire Department will become the primary EMS provider in Georgetown and in the Emergency Services District covered by the department.
According to the plan, the Fire Department will hire six additional positions later this year. The Fire Department hired 12 paramedics in February, including those with experience from cities in Texas and other states. By October 1, the Fire Department plans to have 32 paramedics on staff.
The department also will purchase two more Transitional Response Vehicles in addition to the two TRVs delivered last month for a total of four TRVs. These dual-purpose vehicles carry equipment for fire and rescue response as well as EMS equipment for medical calls and transport of patients. In addition, Georgetown will transition its fire engines to be fully advanced life support vehicles with capability and function similar to a rolling emergency room.
In addition, emergency dispatch for fire, police, and EMS in the Georgetown area will be through the City of Georgetown 911 center. Providing emergency dispatch for EMS calls will reduce delays and call transfers and improve operational efficiency.
Changes for EMS in Georgetown are the result of two years of discussions between the City and Williamson County. The City of Georgetown initially proposed an integrated response in which the Georgetown Fire Department and Williamson County EMS shared 911 medical calls in the area. However, the City and County could not come to an agreement on such an integrated response.
“As we do every day, we will continue to work cooperatively with Williamson County,” says Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan. “For fire or medical calls to 911 in the Georgetown area, 75 percent are medical. The percentage of medical calls is even higher in areas like Sun City. This transition to an enhanced EMS response for Georgetown makes sense in providing the best emergency care for our residents. Additional paramedics and TRVs will enable a faster medical response with more responders that have a higher level of medical training than the current system.”
Georgetown has an aging population that is unique to Williamson County and Central Texas. Nearly 30 percent of the population is older than 60 years of age and the demand for pre-hospital medical services is expected to grow in the future.
David Morgan from Richardson was selected by the City Council to serve as the next city manager for the City of Georgetown. Morgan attended the regular meeting this evening at which the City Council cast a unanimous vote to hire him.
“We ultimately selected David from a strong pool of highly-qualified candidates,” said Mayor Dale Ross. “David is an accomplished professional and dynamic leader who will embrace the community and provide a strong vision as we continue to grow. I am confident he will be a valuable asset to the city.”
Morgan was one of four finalists chosen for the position following an extensive national search including 71 applications from candidates in 25 states. A two-day comprehensive interview process took place on March 13 and 14 including panel interviews with community members, department heads, and City Council members. Strategic Government Resources was hired by the City to conduct the recruitment and interview process.
“I am excited about the opportunity to serve the citizens of Georgetown,” said Morgan. “It is an honor to be selected for this position. Georgetown has a rich heritage and distinguishing character that makes the community a special place. I am committed to preserving Georgetown’s unique identity while also promoting quality development positioning the City for long-term success.”
Morgan has more than 19 years of local government experience and is currently the deputy city manager for the city of Richardson, Texas. He joined the Richardson staff in 1998 as an administrative assistant in the City Manager’s Office. He was promoted to assistant to the city manager in 2000 and was promoted to assistant city manager of community services in 2003. Previously, Morgan worked as a management intern for the city of Lubbock in several departments including the City Manager’s Office.
Morgan received a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University. He served on the advisory board for the Texas Tech Center for Public Service and currently is a member of the Urban Management Assistants of North Texas, the Texas City Management Association, and the North Texas City Management Association. He is also a member of the International City/County Management Association and was in the first class of Leadership ICMA.
Morgan, his wife Leticia and two boys are looking forward to making Georgetown their new home. He is expected to begin work in Georgetown on May 4.
Jim Briggs will remain the interim city manager until Morgan’s appointment and will continue to serve as the general manager for utilities and assistant city manager.
A 150-megawatt solar power agreement recently finalized, in addition to a 144 megawatt wind power agreement in 2014, will make the City of Georgetown one of the largest municipally-owned utilities in the U.S. to supply its customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy*. The long-term agreements also allow Georgetown to provide competitive electric rates and hedge against price volatility for energy produced by fossil-fuels.
The City of Georgetown signed a power purchase agreement with SunEdison to purchase 150-megawatts of solar power starting in 2016. SunEdison will provide electricity to Georgetown through 2041. The new renewable power contracts signed by Georgetown provide electricity at a lower overall cost than its previous wholesale power contracts.
“SunEdison is very excited to be working with Georgetown Utility Systems to provide their customers with 100 percent renewable, clean energy,” said Paul Gaynor, executive vice president of North America Utility and Global Wind. “Georgetown is an exceptional city, and by going 100 percent renewable they cut down on pollution, save water, and enjoy stable energy prices. They’re able to accomplish all of this without spending a penny up-front with the SunEdison power purchase agreement. Georgetown is a model for other cities that hope to become powered by clean renewable energy.”
In addition, Georgetown has contracted with EDF for 144-megawatts out of a 194-megawatt capacity wind project—located 50 miles west of Amarillo—that will begin delivery of power next year. The Spinning Spur 3 project is currently under construction. A 20-year contract with EDF for wind power signed in 2014 will provide competitively-priced renewable energy to Georgetown customers through 2035.
The combination of solar and wind power allows the City to provide energy from complementary renewable sources in order to meet demand patterns. The solar power produced in West Texas will provide a daily afternoon supply peak that matches the daily energy demand peak in Georgetown, especially during the hot summer months. Wind power production in West Texas tends to be highest in the off-peak, evening or early-morning hours. This means that wind power can most often fill power demand when the sun isn’t shining.
The City of Georgetown municipally-owned electric utility started in 1911. The City closed its power plant in 1945 and began a long-term purchased-power contract to supply energy to its customers. Ending a long-term power contract in 2012 allowed the City to pursue new power suppliers.
“When Georgetown Utility Systems opted to seek new sources of power in 2012, we were charged with a mission to secure the most cost-effective energy that balanced risk and reward,” says Jim Briggs, interim city manager for the City and general manager for utilities. “Our team took advantage of a unique time in the market place and did just that. By securing these renewable contracts the utility can consider itself 100 percent ‘green,’ but it does so at extremely competitive costs for energy, and it hedges against future fuel and regulatory risks, fulfilling our initial goal.”
The use of solar and wind-produced energy also means that unlike natural gas, nuclear, or coal-fired power plants, energy production for Georgetown will not require water. A power plant that burns fossil fuels or uses nuclear fuel can use large amounts of water each day. The use of solar and wind power in Georgetown will eliminate these impacts on the water supply and the environment. Using electricity that does not consume water is effectively a further reduction in the overall per capita water use for Georgetown. Another key goal of the utility is to become more effective in its use of water resources.
The City’s renewable power sources also may lead to an economic development benefit. Many companies, especially those in the high-tech sector, have invested in green sources of power for their office and manufacturing facilities. Georgetown’s 100 percent renewable power supply can help companies to achieve sustainability goals at a competitive price.
A new group of volunteers is helping to increase the outreach and capacity of the Georgetown Police Department. Sixteen Citizens on Patrol volunteers are driving the streets of Georgetown to “observe and report” and assist in other duties of the department.
Volunteers have completed four weeks of training, which includes learning from officers in each area of the police department such as patrol, criminal investigations, and community resources. Most of the volunteers also are graduates of the 10-week Citizens Police Academy in which they get an education in all aspects of the department.
The COPs volunteers will use a vehicle to conduct close patrols in neighborhoods, observe areas in response to complaints, and work at community events. The volunteers also will serve as eyes and ears for code enforcement, which is part of the police department.
Another duty involves placing four radar boxes at various locations to track speeds on city streets. The radar boxes collect data that is used to adjust speed limits, but is not used to issue citations.
Lt. Jim Seals says that using trained volunteers to serve in some of these non-emergency roles allows sworn officers to devote more time to respond to emergencies, solve crimes, participate in training, and interact with the community.
The Citizens on Patrol vehicle has a radio that allows volunteers to communicate with 911 emergency communications operators in order to request an officer or report information. The volunteers will not carry weapons. Dennis Barbeau, who is the volunteer director of the program, says they are trained to be non-confrontational and avoid situations that could put them in danger.
The Citizens on Patrol volunteers are among more than 160 total volunteers who assist the Police Department in many ways, including the Blue Santa program, Park Rangers program, at the Animal Shelter, and in other areas.
The sixteen volunteers have been logging 100 hours per week for the past several weeks. They provided security for the new Public Safety Operations and Training Center while contractors worked to finish the facility and while police employees moved in.
Lt. Jim Seals, who leads the community resources program for the department, says that they are not currently recruiting any additional volunteers for the Citizens on Patrol program. Lt. Seals does expect that the program will expand in the future as the demands of the department grow.
The Georgetown Citizens on Patrol program is modeled after similar programs in other communities says Police Chief Wayne Nero. The Georgetown Police Department Citizens on Patrol program is supportive of, but not affiliated with, a similarly-named citizen group in Sun City.
Pictured in the photo (left to right) are Citizens on Patrol volunteers Dennis Barbeau, Myra Chevalier, Paul Chevalier, Randy McDonald, and Jeff Justice, Lt. Jim Seals, Police Chief Wayne Nero, Assistant Police Chief Cory Tchida, and volunteer Michael Corse.
Georgetown Public Library is hosting a kickoff event on March 16 to begin a yearlong celebration leading up to the 50th anniversary in 2016.
The kickoff begins at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the library, located at 402 W. Eighth Street. Refreshments will be served and all ages are welcome at this public reception.
A year-long celebration with programs and events is planned to celebrate the Georgetown Public Library’s opening on March 21, 1966. These events will lead up to a grand finale party in March of 2016 when the library turns 50.
The City of Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department would like your ideas as they begin a master planning process to enhance San Gabriel Park. A public meeting to gather ideas from the community will be at 7 p.m. on March 18 at the Community Center, 445 E. Morrow Street in San Gabriel Park.
The San Gabriel Park Master Plan aims to protect natural resources and improve gathering spaces at the park. Meeting attendees will have the chance to identify current park features and uses that should be retained, as well as new features that could be added. Participants also will have the opportunity to comment on ideas for play features, picnic structures, plazas, natural areas, or other possible features at San Gabriel Park. Planning and design firm RVi is assisting the Parks and Recreation Department on the San Gabriel Park Master Plan.
Design work should begin this fall on the first phases of redevelopment of the park. Parks bond funding authorized by Georgetown voters in 2008 is available for the redevelopment project.
Public input for the master plan will be used to guide the Parks and Recreation Department in determining amenities to be included in future renovations.
The City seeks public input on proposed revisions to the regulations that govern the City’s historic resources at a public meeting on March 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the City Council Chamber, 101 E. Seventh Street. Changes would affect items reviewed by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission.
The proposed changes to the Unified Development Code affect property in the Downtown and Old Town Overlay districts, as well as certain property listed in the City’s Historic Resource Survey.
Primary changes to the existing regulations include:
- Designation of local Historic Landmarks
- Clarification of regulations that apply to contributing versus non-contributing historic structures to a Historic Overlay District
- Clarification on review processes for alterations, removals , demolition, and new construction, as well as certain site features such as signage and fences, to include review by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission and historic preservation officer
The proposed revisions are listed at georgetown.org/udc/harc-amendments.
The proposed UDC amendments have been presented at a HARC workshop last year on October 23, at a City Council workshop on October 28, at a public meeting on January 22, at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on February 3, at a City Council meeting on February 10, and at a HARC meeting on February 26.
Future steps include a workshop with the City Council on March 24, first reading of the amendments ordinance at City Council on April 14, and second reading of the amendments ordinance at City Council on April 28.
Public input is invited at each of these meetings, and online at cityofgeorgetowntx.formstack.com/forms/proposed_harc_udc_amendments.
The City of Georgetown is holding a Historic Tax Credit Workshop for commercial properties on March 17 at 5:30 p.m. The workshop will be in the training room at the Georgetown Communications and Technology building at 510 W. Ninth Street.
Learn about tax credits that provide a preservation incentive for the rehabilitation of commercial properties. Valerie Magolin, Texas Historical Commission tax credit program specialist, and Steph McDougal, principal with McDoux Preservation, will speak about federal and state rehabilitation tax credits for commercial properties.
For more information about the tax credit program, go to the Texas Historical Commission website at www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/projects-and-programs.