Development agreements for a 220-room Sheraton hotel and conference center at the Rivery were approved by the Georgetown City Council on January 14 and finalized this week. The Summit at Rivery Park project near Interstate 35 will include a 16,000 square-foot conference center. Construction on the hotel and conference center is slated to begin this fall and be complete by the end of 2015.
Plans for the Summit at Rivery Park project include future phases with retail stores, restaurant sites, single-family homes, and multifamily residences for a total project investment of $150 million, including $65 million for the hotel, conference center, and public parking garage. Private investors will fund most of the project cost. Novak Brothers, the developer for the Summit at Rivery project, has already constructed several brownstone residences at the site. Hines, an international real estate development firm headquartered in Houston, is a partner in the hotel and conference center.
Rivery Park will see major improvements in access and parking. The existing parking lot will be expanded and resurfaced and new park amenities will be added such as a new pond with fountains, new trails, and boardwalks with a shade structure and seating. Improvements also will be made to the disc golf course. In addition, a new 336-space public parking garage will be constructed and will be available for Rivery Park visitors at no charge. The public parking garage will be owned by the City, but its use will be shared with the hotel and conference center.
The City, the 4A Georgetown Economic Development Corporation, and the 4B Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation will contribute approximately $13.25 million for construction of the new public parking garage, improvements in Rivery Park, and public roadway and utility infrastructure. The City and GEDCO will issue debt and the GTEC contribution will be made from cash on hand.
The City, GEDCO, and GTEC each will be reimbursed for their contributions over time from the tax increment fund that was established for the property in 2007. Monies in the tax increment fund consist of 100 percent of the City’s property tax increment generated from the land in the Rivery Park Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, and 80 percent of Williamson County’s property tax increment generated from land in the zone. It is anticipated that the tax increment fund will be sufficient to provide reimbursement of $12.5 million to the City and GEDCO as well as $750,000 to GTEC and $3.5 million to the developer.
The City will remit half of the 1 percent City sales tax generated in the Rivery Park TIRZ to Williamson County in consideration of Williamson County’s participation in the tax increment fund.
The Summit at Rivery Park project on I-35 will serve as a northern gateway to the Austin metro area and an anchor for future retail, office, and residential development in the center of Georgetown.
Officials with the City of Georgetown joined the Texas Department of Transportation yesterday at a ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the new Lakeway Drive Bridge in Georgetown. The new bridge opened to traffic last week.
The construction project replaced the Lakeway Drive Bridge and re-aligned the roadway at Interstate 35 near the Georgetown Municipal Airport. The newly-constructed bridge has two through-lanes and a dedicated left-turn lane in each direction for a total of six lanes, up from the previous narrow two-lane bridge. In addition to the added capacity, the bridge has sidewalks on each side and space to accommodate bicycles. (Click on photos for a larger version.)
”Safety concerns were the primary reason to replace the bridge, which had no sidewalks or bike lanes, and had steep inclines and sat at a skewed angle, creating limited sight distance for drivers,” said Georgetown Mayor George Garver. “Lakeway Drive is the only I-35 crossing in the 4.6-mile segment between Williams Drive and SH 195. With the growth of our city, this new bridge is a very important element, for both mobility and safety.”
The total project cost for the Lakeway Drive Bridge replacement and re-alignment work is $10.25 million, which includes $2.5 million from Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation, which is funded through a 0.5 percent sales tax in Georgetown.
”This project is a great example of collaboration by a number of agencies and we are excited to see this new bridge become a reality,” Garver said.
Work on the project began in Dec. 2011 and is expected to be complete in March. The contractor is Chasco Construction of Round Rock.
“This new bridge will increase capacity at one of the city’s most congested intersections and we’re happy to celebrate its opening with all our partners,” said John Peters, TxDOT Georgetown assistant area engineer. “We strive to achieve excellence in safety every day and this project will definitely enhance safety and mobility for all citizens who travel through the area.”
The designation of zones that would protect water quality around springs and streams that are Georgetown salamander habitat will be considered by the Georgetown City Council December 10. The ordinance would apply to areas in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone in the Georgetown city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction, which extends up to 3.5 miles beyond city limits. (Click on graphics to see a larger version.)
The proposed rules were developed by Williamson County and the City of Georgetown as a result of the potential listing of the Georgetown salamander as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If the ordinance is adopted, Fish and Wildlife may decide not to list the salamander as endangered. The ordinance would protect certain springs and stream areas that are identified as salamander habitat from certain kinds of activities.
- Red zones that are within 80 meters upstream or downstream of a spring habitat would be no-disturbance areas. Maintenance of existing development would be permitted in red zones, but no new construction.
- Orange zones that are from 80 to 300 meters upstream of a spring habitat would be minimal disturbance areas. Parks, wastewater lines, and some residential development would be permitted in orange zones.
- Spring buffers, which are 50 meter circular buffers around a spring that may be a habitat for the Georgetown salamander, would allow for very limited construction such as parkland development or wastewater lines.
- Stream buffers in the 100-year floodplain would be areas in which development would be limited to wastewater lines, parks, utility line crossings, flood control measures, and road crossings.
A total of 14 red zone sites in the Georgetown city limits and ETJ have been identified. Eight of these sites are on City parkland or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property around Lake Georgetown. Six sites are on private property.
The ordinance also includes a water quality management plan for areas in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The plan would include public education and outreach, hazardous waste education, a voluntary inlet marker program, creek clean-up efforts, integrated pest management, illicit discharge detection and elimination, and runoff control measures.
Another element of the proposed ordinance would establish a management committee to review environmental data on a regular basis, make policy recommendations, and make recommendations to the City Council regarding requests for variances from development guidelines. The proposed management committee would include City of Georgetown appointees and representatives from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgetown development community, and the Williamson County Conservation Foundation.
The City Council will consider the first reading of the proposed ordinance at their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 10. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers and Courts Building at 101 E. Seventh Street.
A group of volunteers called Trail Tamers has been working for the past three years to remove invasive species alongside the city’s hike and bike trails. Cutting down nonnatives like ligustrum, nandina, Chinaberry, and Chinese tallow allows for the restoration of parkland with native plants and trees.
Using limb saws, loppers, and other hand tools, the group meets each Tuesday at 1 p.m., says Heather Brewer McFarling, urban forester with the Parks and Recreation Department. Trail Tamers have been working along the San Gabriel River Trail near Rivery Park and also along the Pickett Trail at Blue Hole and Chautauqua parks.
McFarling says she is looking for more volunteers for the group. Volunteers should bring bottled water and wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and gloves. Tools will be available, but people also can bring their own loppers and hand saws. No power tools are used. Volunteers can work with the group as they are available and no prior knowledge or skills are required.
Those who would like to volunteer should contact Heather Brewer McFarling at (512) 930 – 6113 or firstname.lastname@example.org. McFarling will communicate with those who contact her to let them know of meeting locations and other details.
The Georgetown Main Street program recently presented checks for matching grants for new signs and building façade work at the Center for Cognitive Education and at J. Paul Aubin Real Estate. The Main Street Façade and Sign Fund is a matching grant program for commercial buildings in the historic downtown area.
The Center for Cognitive Education at 503 S. Main Street offers counseling and assistance programs to help people develop and maintain responsible patterns in living. The center received a $7,345 check for a portion of the cost of building façade improvements and signs.
Pictured (left to right) in the photo are Marcy Urban, Jim Wilson, David Kellerman, Dean Eddy, Cindy Harrington, Linda McCalla, and Shelly Hargrove.
J. Paul Aubin Real Estate at 810 S. Main Street is a real estate office with nine agents serving the Georgetown and Austin metro area. J. Paul Aubin Real Estate received an $8,133 check for a portion of the cost of renovating the building façade and new signs.
Pictured (left to right) in the photo are Marcy Urban, Linda McCalla, Jim Wilson, Joseph Aubin, Dora Aubin, David Kellerman, Cindy Harrington, and Shelly Hargrove.
The Main Street Façade and Sign Fund provides reimbursement grants to business owners in the historic downtown area for a portion of improvements made to building facades and new signs.
Sign matching grants are for up to $500 and façade matching grants are up to $10,000 for exterior work on a historic building.
Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Division of Downtown and Community Services.
Learn more at mainstreet.georgetown.org.
A recent analysis of 75 cities in the top 25 U.S. metro areas ranked Georgetown third on the list. The top ten list of America’s Best Suburbs, placing Georgetown at no. 3 in the country, was done by Movoto, a real estate company in California. The ranking was based on several factors including shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings as well as cost of living, low crime, education, and employment.
The article notes that Georgetown’s crime rate is 45 percent below the national average and that the cost of living is nearly 9 percent lower than the national average. The article also cites Georgetown’s low student-to-teacher ratio.
Movoto provided an explanation of the appeal of the major metro cities on the list. “These smaller cities and towns offer proximity to everything their larger neighbors have to offer, while oftentimes being safer and less crowded.”
“This ranking is a wonderful tribute to our history, our vitality, our values and our fantastic citizens,” says Mayor George Garver. “Good schools, good public safety personnel, and a great living environment make this city very desirable. We take pride in this ranking knowing that others have discovered what we already know about Georgetown—it’s a great place to live.”
The ranking was based on an analysis of data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To see the list of the 10 best American suburbs, as well as the full ranking of metro 75 cities, go to http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/best-suburban-cities-in-america.
The City of Georgetown will limit outdoor watering to two days per week starting on Monday, October 14.
Last week the Brazos River Authority, which manages the water in Lake Georgetown and Stillhouse Hollow Lake, notified the City of Georgetown that they are enacting a stage 2 drought warning for Lake Georgetown. The river authority is requesting that the City reduce water use due to persistent drought conditions and the declining level of Lake Georgetown. Lake levels throughout the region are lower than they were in the severe drought year of 2011.
Based on the request from the river authority, water utilities that rely on Lake Georgetown will enact phase 1 of their Drought Contingency Plan on October 14. Those four water utilities—City of Georgetown, City of Round Rock, Chisholm Trail SUD, and Brushy Creek MUD—will enact a two-day-per-week watering limit.
The following water use limits will go into effect on Monday, October 14 for City of Georgetown water customers.
For irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers, landscape irrigation will be limited to a schedule based on the last digit of your address number:
Odd addresses may irrigate on
Tuesday and/or Saturday
Even addresses may irrigate on
Wednesday and/or Sunday
No sprinkler or irrigation system use is permitted on Mondays, Thursdays, or Fridays.
No irrigation Noon to 7 p.m.
Watering with a sprinkler or irrigation system is not permitted from 12 noon to 7 p.m. each day.
Watering with a hand-held hose or bucket can be done any day and at any time. Other outdoor water uses such as vehicle washing or filling a swimming pool can be done any day at any time.
Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines.
For assistance in programming your irrigation controller, call (512) 930-3640, or email email@example.com.
The librarian-and-driver for Georgetown’s colorful bookmobile will now have a helper, thanks to a state grant and the popularity of the little library on wheels.
The Georgetown Public Library received a special projects grant for $75,000 from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to support the operation of the library’s bookmobile in the next fiscal year. This is the third and final year of funding from the State Library, which has funded the operation of the WOW!mobile since it started rolling through the community two years ago.
During the first two years the grant covered the salary of the community outreach librarian and equipment and books for the program. This year, because the bookmobile service has expanded so dramatically, instead of books the grant will fund a part-time assistant for the librarian.
Michele Harber, the community outreach librarian who drives the bookmobile, is pictured at a recent stop at the Mariposa apartment homes on River Bend Drive. (Click on photo for a larger version.)
The bookmobile now makes more than 70 stops per month at Georgetown’s retirement communities, assisted living and nursing facilities, Head Start, preschools, charter schools, apartment complexes, and even some neighborhoods. During the past year more than 23,000 items were checked out from the mobile library.
The Georgetown Parks Department began deconstructing the Creative Playscape at San Gabriel Park last week. The City is in the process of redesigning and rebuilding the play structure.
But before the work on the playscape started, its tight spaces served as a survival training facility for the Georgetown Fire Department. Last week, Georgetown firefighters completed a multiple-day survival training exercise in which the confined spaces and maze-like configuration of the playscape simulated a collapsed building.
In full bunker gear with boots, helmets, air tanks, and breathing masks covered in translucent wrap to simulate smoke, firefighters followed 200-feet of fire hose that snaked up stairs, over walkways, down a slide, and under confined spaces to get out.
A firefighter’s air tank holds a maximum of 30 minutes of air. If they are breathing hard, they may have less than 10 minutes. A green light on their air pack tells them they are OK. A blinking orange light means they have half of a tank. Blinking red means they have less than 10 minutes before they run out.
Battalion Chief Carl Boatright gives a briefing to a group of firefighters before they each put on their bunker gear and crawl through.
Firefighters must follow the length of hose and are trained to “read” the hose with their hands. At each hose coupling, they can feel “smooth, bump, bump, to the pump” which tells them they are heading the right direction to get back to the fire truck and out of the structure.
A firefighter navigates a loop of hose. This can be an especially tricky place to get turned around and head the wrong way.
A firefighter following the length of hose emerges from a tight spot on the playscape.
Another tight spot.
Wearing an air tank and holding an axe, each firefighter had to pull himself under a cargo net feature while on their back.
Firefighter Price Inman, having made it to the end of the hose and finishing the course, takes off his breathing mask and shares a laugh with Captain David England.
The training was conceived by the fire department after hearing of the impending disassembling of the playscape. The Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department agreed to let the fire department use the structure for training before it was taken down. The training did not damage playscape features like the art wall and murals that are being preserved and repurposed in the new design.
Tragically, firefighters in Texas have attended many funerals this year for firefighters who were lost in building collapses, explosions, and other deadly structure fires. Training may not have saved all those who were lost, but it may save some lives in a critical emergency. That is why the whole department participated in the survival training at the playscape.
Georgetown firefighters and police officers will participate in a memorial stair climb at Georgetown ISD football stadium on Wednesday, September 11. The climb is done each year as a tribute to first responders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Participants will climb the equivalent of 110 stories—the height of the World Trade Center towers.
The event begins at 8 a.m. with comments from Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan and Georgetown Assistant Police Chief Cory Tchida. An honor guard will post the colors before the climb begins. The flag posted will be the flag of heroes, which contains the names of all the first responders who died on 9/11. Battalion Chief Jeff Davis, a piper with Georgetown Fire Department Pipes and Drums, will play as the climb begins.
FDNY Rescue 4, a fire truck that responded with a crew of firefighters to the World Trade Center on 9/11, will be at the beginning of the Georgetown memorial stair climb event. FDNY Rescue 4 is currently based in Taylor.
The firefighters on the climb will be wearing firefighting gear including boots, helmets, protective pants and jackets, and air packs. Police officers will carry extra tactical gear on the climb. Participants will pause for a moment of silence at the times that each of the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
Georgetown Battalion Chief Carl Boatright, who is coordinating the event, says he expects 30 to 40 climbers to participate, including firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians. Participants will climb the stairs to the top of the football stadium 16 times.
Later in the day on Wednesday, Georgetown firefighters will participate in the annual September 11 commemoration and parade in Taylor.
The Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex, where the stair climb will take place in the morning, is located behind Georgetown High School at 2211 N. Austin Avenue in Georgetown.