Georgetown named as finalist in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayors Challenge

Georgetown is one of 35 Champion Cities selected this week as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to develop innovative ideas that confront challenges facing their cities. Georgetown was selected as a finalist amongst more than 320 applications.

The City now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new application in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria, including vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee co-chaired by former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and former Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.

Georgetown’s innovative idea involves developing the “virtual power plant.” While Georgetown is the first and largest city in Texas to secure 100 percent of its purchased power from renewable sources, there are cost uncertainty and reliability concerns related to transporting that energy over long distances. The City of Georgetown hopes to be able to lease rooftop space on residential and commercial properties to install solar panels that will generate enough energy to offset the need to purchase power from outside sources in this completely renewable energy-powered city.

“The City executed purchased power agreements to cover Georgetown’s energy usage with 100 percent renewable energy, making Georgetown one of the largest city-owned utilities to do so,” Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said. “The media coverage that followed this announcement was seen by more than two billion people. I welcome this opportunity to blaze the next renewable energy trail.”

For more information, please visit bloomberg.org.

Candidates file for City Council election in May

The candidate filing period for the City Council District 1 and 5 elections in Georgetown on May 5 ended today at 5 p.m. Incumbent Anna Eby and Mary Calixtro have filed for District 1, and Kevin Pitts has filed to run in District 5. Incumbent Ty Gipson announced he would not seek re-election in the District 5 race.

To see maps of council districts, go to maps.georgetown.org/council-district-maps.

Georgetown City Council members serve three-year terms representing one of seven single-member districts.

The last day to register to vote in the May election is April 5.

Early in-person voting is April 23 through May 1. In the Early Voting period, voters may cast ballots at any Early Voting location in Williamson County.

On Election Day on May 5, voters may cast ballots at any vote center location in Williamson County. Polling places, dates, and times will be listed at wilco.org/elections.

For details about the city election, contact Shelley Nowling, city secretary for the City of Georgetown, at Shelley.Nowling@georgetown.org or (512) 930-3652.

Georgetown Accepting Proposals to Purchase Downtown Properties

The City of Georgetown is accepting proposals from potential buyers for three city-owned buildings. The buildings for sale are the historic post office at 113 E. Eighth St., the Municipal Court/City Council Chambers at 101 E. Seventh St., and the Visitors Center at 103 W. Seventh St. The Municipal Court and the Visitors Center buildings are located on the historic Square around the Williamson County Courthouse. The historic post office is located one block east of the Square and is currently home to City Hall.

In total, these buildings represent more than 25,000 square feet of commercial space in the nine-block core of downtown Georgetown. All three properties are zoned mixed-use downtown, which allows for a number of uses including office, retail, restaurant, hotel, or event facility.

While purchase price is one consideration, the goal of this process is to connect with buyers willing to provide the best overall proposal for of each property. Proposers must submit a business plan and timeline detailing the intended use of the site.

All three properties are located in the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone or TIRZ. The purpose of the TIRZ is to facilitate the redevelopment of downtown Georgetown, furthering the goals of the city’s Downtown Masterplan to create a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment. Both the TIRZ plan and the Downtown Masterplan call for the use of public property to ensure Georgetown maintains its unique character, maximizes opportunities for thoughtful development, and enhances the quality of life for residents.

Proposals are due by 2 p.m. on May 1. The City will be hosting two open houses for all three properties. The open houses will begin at each building at 4 p.m. on March 1 and March 8.

More information about the process and about each property, including photos, maps, videos, and a virtual tour, is available at realestate.georgetown.org. Visitors to the site also can sign up for regular email updates about the process.

Holt Cat breaks ground on Georgetown facility

Holt Cat, a Caterpillar equipment sales, rental, parts and service dealer, broke ground Jan. 30 on a regional Caterpillar facility at 2101 Airport Road near the intersection of Lakeway Drive and I-35.

The 85,000-square-foot facility is expected to open by summer 2019 and create 130 new jobs with a net benefit to the City of more than $16 million over 10 years.

City Council approved an economic development agreement with the construction equipment company in December that included a rebate of up to $2 million in sales taxes generated by the company over five years if the company meets its expectations. The council also approved a $185,000 Georgetown Economic Development Corp. grant to connect a future wastewater line extension. The line will be able to serve adjacent commercial properties when they develop.

“City council’s vision for Georgetown is ‘a caring community, honoring our past and innovating for the future.’ Businesses like Holt Cat are part of that future,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “Holt’s corporate culture and history of community partnership are a perfect match with Georgetown. We are committed to growing a strong and sustainable commercial corridor, and Holt Cat is a wonderful addition to our business community.”

Before it opens, the company expects to spend a minimum of $20 million in infrastructure and improvements. According to the agreement, the company is expected to have a minimum of $35 million in sales per year starting in the second year of operations through year six.

“Georgetown is one of the fastest-growing cities, not just in Texas, but in the U.S. Investments in construction and infrastructure are driving demand for heavy equipment and services, and with this new location, we can better serve our customers in this region,” said Peter J. Holt, Holt Cat CEO and general manager.

The location will be the company’s largest retail location built in more than 30 years and will be a state-of-the-art facility, said Tony Shedrock, Holt Cat vice president of general services.

Holt Cat expects to hire specialized heavy-equipment mechanics as well as administrative, sales, and marketing positions with an average salary of $48,500.

The San Antonio-based company sells, rents and services Caterpillar machines, engines, generator sets and trucks throughout a 118-county region including South, Central, North, and Northeast Texas.

Citizen Police Academy spring session

The Citizen Police Academy is a 12-week course taught by police officers to educate citizens about all aspects of the Georgetown Police Department. Classes in the spring 2018 academy include code of criminal procedure, accident investigations, use of force, crime scene investigations, hostage negotiations, special weapons and tactics, and victim services. The deadline to apply is March 13.

Weekly classes are on Thursday evenings starting on March 22 through June 7. Class sessions are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The first class will be held in the training room of the Public Safety Operations and Training Center, 3500 D.B. Wood Road.

There is no charge to attend the academy, but seating is limited and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applications are available at the Georgetown Police Department reception desk at the Public Safety Operations and Training Center or by emailing a request to randy.mcdonald@georgetown.org. All applicants will be notified of acceptance via email.

Georgetown Parks and Recreation announces spring break camps

Georgetown Parks and Recreation will offer spring break camps for students March 12-16. Pricing and schedules vary for each program.

Participants can select from four camps:

  • Camp Goodwater (ages 5-12; $140 resident/$175 nonresident) includes a variety of activities such as games, crafts and weird science projects. The week will end with a field trip to Mt. Playmore.
  • Tennis Camp (ages 7-12; $140 resident/$175 nonresident) focuses on stroke instruction, footwork drills, court games and match play.
  • Junior Tennis Academy (ages 11-18; $100 resident/$125 nonresident) is designed for competitive junior players. Each session will include footwork drills, conditioning, fast pace drills, shot selection and some match play.
  • Teen Adventure Camp (ages 12-17; $250 resident/$315 nonresident) takes participants on a rock climbing and paddling adventure near the scenic Palo Pinto Mountains near Stephenville, Texas.

Spring break camp registration begins on Thursday, Feb. 1. For more information and to register, visit parks.georgetown.org/camp or call (512) 930-3596.

2018: A Look Ahead

Two years ago, the Census Bureau found that Georgetown was the fastest growing city in the U.S. with a population above 50,000. Last year, we were the fifth-fastest growing city. Knowing that this trend will continue, many more folks will begin to call Georgetown home in 2018.

Thoughtfully managing growth is always a challenge. We are preparing for the growth that we know will come. We’ve tallied it up and with all the road, park, and utility projects currently underway, we have more than $214 million in new projects under construction. Three new water towers are visual markers indicating how we are expanding key infrastructure to match our population growth.

What’s happening in Georgetown in 2018? Here’s a look ahead at some of the big stories to follow this year.

Economic Development

We started off the year with the opening of the new Randalls store on Williams Drive, providing a new option for groceries here in Georgetown. Wolf Crossing, a 250,000 square foot retail development across I-35 from Wolf Ranch is slated to break ground this spring. Just north of Wolf Ranch, Wolf Lakes recently announced their vision for a mixed-use village concept with office, medical, retail, and residential components across their 164 acres.

Another large employer breaking ground is January is Holt Cat. They will build a sales and service center for Caterpillar equipment on Airport Road. We look forward to this $20 million facility in our city that will result in 129 new jobs.

Mobility Improvements

This year we will open the Southwest Bypass, the largest road project in city history. When completed, the bypass will provide an important new loop on the south and west sides of the city. The City will also begin work on the Rivery Blvd extension and Northwest Blvd bridge overpass.

Solar Power Starts

This summer, Georgetown will begin receiving power from a 150-megawatt solar facility in West Texas. When that happens, Georgetown will become one of the few cities in the U.S. with 100 percent wind and solar power sources.

Garey Park and San Gabriel Park

Later this year we look forward to the opening of the 525-acre Garey Park.  When it opens, Garey Park will feature picnic areas, hiking and horse-riding trails, an equestrian center, and the Garey House event center. In addition, we will be completing the first phase of renovations to San Gabriel Park and starting on the second phase of work, which will include a new trail segment from the park to the Katy Crossing neighborhood.

Public Safety

Work will begin soon on Fire Station 6, located on Williams Drive at FM 3405. The new station will help with fire and medical response times on the northwest side of the city. Work also is beginning this year for Fire Station 7, which will be on the east side of the city on University Avenue at Inner Loop.

New City Hall and Municipal Court

After breaking ground in November, renovations are now underway for the new City Hall and the Council Chambers and Municipal Court building. These projects will consolidate key city offices into one downtown campus. The project should be complete by the end of 2018.

Last year, the Georgetown City Council confirmed a new vision statement for the city. “Georgetown: A caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future.”

This period of incredible growth and vitality is laying the foundation for the future that our children and grandchildren will inherit. Great things are in store for Georgetown. If we keep honoring our past and innovating for the future, I think Georgetown residents will look back fifty years from now and thank us for a job well done.

Candidate filing period for May Election

The filing period for candidates who wish to run for a seat on the Georgetown City Council began Jan. 17. The places for Districts 1 and 5 will be on the ballot for the election this spring.

Anna Eby is the current council member for District 1 and Ty Gipson is the council member for District 5.

Eby has announced she will run for re-election, and Gipson announced he will not seek re-election.

The filing period ends Feb. 16. A packet of information for prospective candidates is available at City Hall at 113 E. Eighth St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

To see maps of council districts, go to maps.georgetown.org/council-district-maps.

Georgetown City Council members serve three-year terms representing one of seven single-member districts. A candidate for city council must be 21 years of age and a citizen and qualified voter of the state of Texas and the City of Georgetown. Candidates for council district seats must be a resident of the council district the member would be representing for a period of twelve months as of the last legal date for filing.

The last day to register to vote in the May election is April 5.

Early in-person voting is April 23 through May 1. In the Early Voting period, voters may cast ballots at any Early Voting location in Williamson County.

On Election Day on May 5, voters may cast ballots at any vote center location in Williamson County. Polling places, dates, and times will be listed at wilco.org/elections.

For details about the city election, contact Shelley Nowling, city secretary for the City of Georgetown, at Shelley.Nowling@georgetown.org or (512) 930-3652.

CVB earns second place at Stella Awards

The City of Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau recently placed second for the best destination marketing organization/convention and visitors bureau for the Southwest region for the 2017 Stella Awards. This was the award’s inaugural year.

The Stella Awards are presented by The Northstar Meeting Group and recognize hotels, convention centers, conference centers, airlines, cruise lines, destination marketing organizations/CVBs, and destination management companies that consistently deliver quality service and innovation to meeting and events professionals.

“We are very honored to be recognized alongside cities that have been doing meeting and event planning for many years,” Georgetown Tourism and CVB Manager Cari Miller said. “This award has given us the opportunity to showcase our City to meeting managers from throughout the U.S. We couldn’t have won this award without our incredible CVB team and all the wonderful work they do.”

Finalists for the awards were selected by voting industry professionals, and winners were selected by a panel of judges based on professionalism, consistency in delivering quality service, innovation of ideas, and support to meeting professionals.

Visit Phoenix and the Irving CVB placed first in the category, and Visit Denver came in third.

The Southwest region includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Cupid’s Chase 5K and Fun Run on Feb. 3

Register now for the 23rd annual Cupid’s Chase 5K and Fun Run on Saturday, Feb. 3. The chip-timed 5K run/walk begins at 8 a.m. in downtown Georgetown at Seventh and Main streets and ends at the Bark Park on Holly Street. (A shuttle will take you back to the starting line).

Through Jan. 10, the registration cost is $18 for adults ages 13-54 and $16 for children age 12 and younger and seniors age 55 and older. Registration between Jan. 11 and Feb. 2 is $22 per person for all age groups and $25 on race day.

The Kids Fun Run for children age 8 and younger starts at 7:30 a.m. The course is a loop around the Courthouse. Registration is $10 before Feb. 3 and $15 on race day.

Participants receive a Cupid’s Chase T-shirt, while supplies last. Cupid costumes are encouraged. Strollers and dogs on a non-retractable leash are always welcome on the Cupid’s Chase course. T-shirts are not guaranteed for those who register on race day.

Awards will be presented to the top overall male and female winners and the overall male and female masters winners as well as the top three male and female finishers in each age division. Awards also will be presented to the top overall male and female City of Georgetown employee. If you are a City of Georgetown employee, be sure to indicate so when you register.

Race results will be posted after the race at cupid.georgetown.org.

In case of bad weather on race day, check facebook.com/GTXParksandRec, and parks.georgetown.org for updates. There are no refunds or transfers for participants.

Cupid’s Chase is sponsored by Georgetown Parks and Recreation. Event proceeds help fund projects at Georgetown parks. To register online or for details, go to cupid.georgetown.org.