Mobility and increased traffic consistently have been top issues cited by residents in Georgetown in citizen surveys. Since we can’t close a gate to keep people from moving to our wonderful city, we have implemented mobility projects to keep us moving as our population grows.
In 2015, Georgetown voters approved a $105 million bond for transportation and mobility projects. Two of the larger 2015 bond projects, Southwest Bypass and Rivery Boulevard Extension, have already been completed. Northwest Boulevard extension and bridge over I-35 is under construction and should be complete by early 2021.
Other transportation or mobility projects are being proposed, are in the planning stage, or are funded and in the process of being implemented. I’d like to share with you some details about projects in each of those categories respectively—road projects that are being proposed, bicycle projects that are in the planning phase, and pedestrian crossing improvements in Sun City that are funded and will be happening next year.
Williamson County road bond election
Residents will be voting on Williamson County bond election propositions on the Nov. 5 ballot. Proposition A includes road projects and Proposition B includes parks and recreation projects. The road projects in Proposition A include these projects in Georgetown:
- Southwest Bypass extension from State Highway 29 to Wolf Ranch Parkway would construct a roadway and include intersection improvements at SH 29.
- Southeast Inner Loop Extension from SH 29 to Sam Houston Avenue would construct a roadway with a bridge over SH 130.
- Four projects in Sun City include: 1) CR 245 from north of RM 2338 to Ronald Reagan Boulevard involving reconstructing and widening to four lanes, 2) Ronald Reagan Boulevard at Silver Spur Boulevard turn lanes involving constructing intersection improvements, 3) Ronald Reagan Boulevard at Sun City Boulevard turn lanes involving construction of intersection improvements, and, 4) SH 195 northbound off ramp at Ronald Reagan Boulevard involving construction of exit ramp.
Go to wilco.org/bondelection to find out more about these projects and others on the November 5 ballot. Early in-person voting is Oct. 21-26 and Oct. 28 – Nov. 1. Go to wilco.org/elections for details on polling locations and hours.
Bicycle Master Plan
An initial draft of a Bicycle Master Plan for Georgetown presents a blueprint for future transportation projects to create a safe bicycle network in Georgetown. The plan includes a system of bike lanes on streets, off-street paths, and pavement markings or signs to indicate bicycle routes. The plan also includes ideas for bicycle rack locations, activities, signs, maps, and educational efforts to help bicycle mobility.
You can learn more and talk with City staff at a public open house on the Plan on October 23 at 6 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. After public input and review by several City boards and commissions, the Plan is scheduled for review and adoption by the City Council in November and December. Read the draft of the Plan and find out more about the review process at transportation.georgetown.org/bike-plan.
Pedestrian crossings in Sun City
City staff has worked with Sun City residents for the past year on ways to enhance pedestrian safety. As a result, the City Council approved funding last month to add pedestrian crossings with signal flashers at eight intersections on Sun City Boulevard and Del Webb Boulevard. The project will include pedestrian crossing signs as well as push-button activated flashing beacons to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians. Walkers can push a button to activate the flashing lights and let drivers know that they are present. The beacons and signs are being ordered and manufactured. They should be installed early next year.
As you can see, mobility efforts in Georgetown include roads improvements for our vehicles as well as projects for bicyclists and pedestrians. To find out more about transportation and mobility projects in Georgetown, go to georgetown.org.
It’s no secret that there are trials and tribulations associated with running a fast-growing city like Georgetown. But it’s important to put these challenges in context. One thing that is often overlooked is your overall cost for city services. When you consider city taxes, electric, water, sewer, trash, and other expenses, Georgetown is one of the more affordable cities in Central Texas.
Another misconception is that Georgetown is just a small country town. The City is already a nearly $440 million organization with more than 750 employees. And while the City Council and I work hard each day to help the City maintain its world-class small-town charm, I am also focused on expanding employment opportunities and preparing for the growth we know will come.
Finally, no doubt you have read about or been affected by the unique challenges facing Georgetown, most notably our increased costs in electricity. Thankfully, because we can recruit and retain top talent, the City has been able to assemble a new team, who is working each day to make improvements, not only in our electric utility, but across all city departments.
However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would be remiss to dwell only on the negative and not share some of the great things that happened this year. The City of Georgetown has been honored to receive a number of awards recently. These recognitions have been for a variety of departments and programs across the City. You may have missed some of these announcements, so I’d like to take a minute to recount some of the great work done in Georgetown this year.
No. 3 safest city in Texas
Georgetown was ranked as the No. 3 safest city in Texas according to a scoring of cities above 50,000 population in 2019. The ranking by SafeHome.org gave Georgetown an overall safety score of 86.49 on a 100-point scale. The ranking also placed Georgetown at 62 among the safest cities in the U.S., which means that Georgetown is in the top 25th percentile in the U.S. among safe cities. Georgetown is one of only four cities in Texas to make it to the top 100 safest cities on the national level. The safest cities rankings are based on FBI crime statistics, the police officer-to-population ratio in a city, crime trends, and demographic factors.
The Georgetown Police Department earned the Texas Police Chiefs Association’s Recognized Law Enforcement Agency award in May after a more than two-year application process that included a critical review of the agency’s policies, procedures, facilities, and operations. Georgetown is only the 154th agency out of more than 2,700 agencies in the state to receive the recognition.
The TPCA’s recognition program evaluates a police department’s compliance with nearly 170 best practices for law enforcement agencies developed by Texas law enforcement professionals to assist agencies in the efficient and effective delivery of service and the protection of individual’s rights. These best practices cover all aspects of law enforcement operations including use of force, protection of citizen rights, vehicle pursuits, property and evidence management, and patrol and investigative operations.
Reliable Public Power Provider, Diamond Level
The City of Georgetown electric utility attained diamond level status under the American Public Power Association’s Reliable Public Power Provider program in 2019. This is the program’s highest level of recognition and is only awarded after a rigorous application process and outside review. The RP3 designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Georgetown is one of six public power providers in Texas to receive the diamond designation. In total, only 254 of the more than 2,000 public power utilities nationwide hold the RP3 designation. Georgetown Utility Systems had been a platinum designee since 2016.
Georgetown receives 2019 National Main Street accreditation
The City of Georgetown’s Main Street Program has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.
In the past 15 years, the Main Street Façade & Sign Grant Program has awarded more than $469,000 to 80 downtown businesses and property owners. Most recently in May, the Georgetown Main Street Program presented Lark and Owl Booksellers with a $20,500 Main Street Façade & Sign Grant.
Teen Court state champion team
A team of three student attorneys from Georgetown won the teen court state competition in April 2019. Linsey Jensen, Taylor Price, and Matthew McCarthy took first place in the final round in which they competed against a team from Allen. The annual state competition in which three-person teams of teen attorneys are scored for their lawyering skills in mock trials is sponsored by the Teen Court Association of Texas. A Georgetown Teen Court team won the state competition previously in 2016. This is the eighth year that Georgetown sent a team to participate in the teen court state competition.
Shelter maintains no-kill status
For the fourth year in a row, the Georgetown Animal Shelter has achieved a live outcome rate above 90 percent, which means it is considered a no-kill shelter. The save rate was 94 percent for the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.
The live outcome rate is notable for an open-admission public shelter. Factors in the 94 percent live outcome rate include a high rate of animal adoptions, the number of animals returned to owners, and the cleanliness of the shelter which results in healthy animals.
Family Place Library Designation
The Georgetown Public Library was designated a member of the Family Place Libraries national network in August. The designation is given to libraries providing a welcoming community environment with resources to help families nurture their children’s development and early learning during the first years of life.
The library’s new Family Place offers residents a specially designed space in the children’s area for young children to play, share books, and meet other families. The Family Place hosts a collection of books, toys, music, and multimedia materials for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, parents, and caregivers, as well as librarians specially trained in child development and family support.
Georgetown announced as Texas Slam host
The United States Tennis Association announced that Georgetown won the three-year bid to host the Texas Slam, one of the largest junior tennis tournaments in the country. Approximately 1,000 participants ages 11 to 18 compete in the annual tournament.
Georgetown submitted a proposal to host the 2020-22 Texas Slam tournament. A special selection committee was formed to review all the proposals. Because of the unique nature of the Texas Slam, the selection committee focused on the strength of the proposals as it relates to the commitment and involvement of the host community. The committee highlighted the more than 150 tennis courts in Georgetown, as well as the more than 3,500 hotel rooms in the area.
Library Director named Texas Librarian of the Year
At the annual meeting of the Texas Library Association, Georgetown Public Library Director Eric Lashley was named Librarian of the Year. The annual award is given to a librarian in Texas who has shown extraordinary leadership and service within the library community over the past 12 to 18 months.
The Librarian of the Year award recognizes that Lashley has implemented “innovative approaches to the technological and existential challenges libraries face and developed a dynamic, beloved public library that is a model for others across the state and the country.”
As you can see, this year Georgetown has gotten recognition for many of our departments, programs, and places by statewide and national organizations. We can all feel proud about those honors for our city.
If 2020 follows the recent trend, we can expect many new people will begin to call Georgetown home in the next year. Our town has been one of the top-10 fastest-growing cities in the country for the past five years in a row. Since 2010, our population has increased more than 56 percent.
Why are so many people moving here? There are many reasons—our safe neighborhoods, top-notch parks, award-winning library, and having the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas. All of this contributes to an authentic sense-of-place that makes Georgetown unique.
Despite its challenges, it is fair to say that the phenomenal growth we are experiencing also is our biggest opportunity. Georgetown is currently seeing a significant increase in retail and commercial development. These projects add jobs to our local economy and attract investment that strengthens the tax base for our schools and local government services.
Given the key role that commercial development plays in our local economy, the City of Georgetown remains focused on expanding employment opportunities, while preparing for the growth that we know will come. Our community wants the city to grow in a strategic way, while retaining its character and “small town charm.”
Several significant commercial projects that fit into our overall economic development strategy are currently under construction or have recently opened. These include office, mixed-use, industrial, and retail developments.
Office and professional services
A key economic development strategy is to encourage more professional service businesses in Georgetown. Sedro Crossing, a 170,000-square-foot professional medical and office development, broke ground earlier this year on Williams Drive. This represents the largest office project in Georgetown to-date.
Mixed-use developments including Riverplace and Heritage Court are also on schedule to open in 2020, bringing new residential, office, and retail space to downtown. Riverplace will be the new home to WBW Development, a company relocating from Killeen in a strategic move to attract talent.
Industrial and commercial
Texas Speed and Performance, one of the largest high-performance auto engine parts retailers in the country, announced their expansion plans this year. The Georgetown-based company plans to construct 200,000 square feet of industrial space on Aviation Drive near the Airport. Half of the space will be speculative for industrial tenants.
The Westinghouse Business Center, a 98,000-square-foot business park on Westinghouse Road, will provide speculative space for a variety of commercial uses, such as medical, technology and professional services, as well as retail space.
Holt Caterpillar’s new regional 85,000 square-foot facility on Airport Road for the sale and service of construction equipment is set to open in the next month. The dealership will have a net benefit to the City of more than 13 million dollars over 10 years.
Retail and downtown
In addition to the Academy Sports and Outdoors on SH 29, the first stores at Wolf Crossing are beginning to open. When complete, the 200 million dollar, 250,000-square-foot retail center will feature restaurants, medical facilities, a hotel, and a grocery store – all identified as targets in the City’s 2016 economic development retail analysis.
Even with all this growth, we haven’t forgotten what makes Georgetown unique – our historic downtown. The most beautiful town square in Texas has experienced incredible reinvestment. In fact, in 2019 alone, we’ve had over 11 million dollars in private commercial development in downtown.
New shops, restaurants, bars, offices, apartments, and a bookstore have all opened this year – with more retail slated for 2020. The increase in unique consumer experiences has truly created a live-work-play atmosphere for every age.
The City Council’s vision for Georgetown—a caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future—is apparent in many ways across the city. From major infrastructure investments in projects like the Southwest Bypass, to the public art in downtown, we are a city committed to retaining our character while paving the way for opportunity.
Making investments to enhance community safety and quality of life are key priorities for the fiscal year 2020 budget plan for the City of Georgetown. Budget specifics and the tax rate are being discussed and approved this month by the City Council.
Georgetown’s population growth remains an important factor for the budget. This year Georgetown was ranked the seventh-fastest growing city in the U.S. with more than 50,000 residents by the U.S. Census Bureau. Georgetown has been one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the country each of the past five years.
Maintaining quality of life and community safety while responding to population growth are core elements of the proposed 2020 budget. These themes are evident in the programs and projects proposed for 2020.
Public safety: Two patrol officers, one community engagement officer, two emergency communications operators, and one digital forensics investigator are proposed for the Police Department to respond to growth in the city. An additional code enforcement officer and a fire protection engineer also address growth demands. The budget also includes operational costs and staffing for Fire Station 6 and Fire Station 7, scheduled to open in 2020.
Parks: New projects include the design of the third phase of the renovation of San Gabriel Park, an update to the Parks Master Plan to guide future parks development, plans for regional trail development, and upgrades to the Heritage Community Gardens near Annie Purl Elementary.
Transportation and mobility: Responding to a top priority for residents, mobility projects include widening Leander Road from Norwood Drive to Southwest Bypass, widening Southwestern Boulevard from Raintree Drive to SE Inner Loop, the next phase of sidewalk improvements, and continued funding for GoGeo transit. Construction on the Northwest Boulevard bridge over I-35 funded in 2019 will continue in 2020.
Electric utility: A new energy portfolio management contract, a new risk management policy, and a new general manager for the electric utility are all currently underway and included in the 2020 budget. New feeder and transformer improvements and other upgrades address growth in our service area.
Water utility: New major projects addressing our growing population include the expansion of the Lake Water Treatment Plant water intake, a Round Rock supply pump station and ground storage tank, the Stonewall Ranch pump station, and other line upgrades. Major wastewater projects include the next phase of the Berry Creek wastewater line, the San Gabriel wastewater line, and rehabilitation of the San Gabriel Wastewater Treatment Plant, and other lift station and line upgrades.
Other new positions funded in the budget include a new director of community services to add focus to animal services, code enforcement, and emergency management; a director of communication and public engagement; staff for the Visitors Center, purchasing, and the Georgetown Public Library; and program managers for performance management, business improvement, and staff training. The 2020 budget includes a total of 15.5 new positions compared to 30 in the 2019 budget.
No rate changes are proposed for water, wastewater, electric, or drainage utilities. A 75-cent increase in the monthly solid waste and recycling fee for residential customers is proposed to reflect increased operational costs by Texas Disposal Systems.
The proposed 2020 budget includes a property tax rate of 42 cents per $100 property valuation, which is the same rate as 2019. For an average home in Georgetown valued at $285,357, city taxes would increase by $30 from 2019. While the tax rate is the same as last year, the increase in valuation will increase the taxes paid for the average home.
The budget public hearing and the first public hearing on the proposed tax rate was on Sept. 3. The second public hearing on the tax rate is Sept. 10. Adoption of the budget ordinances is set for Sept. 10 and Sept. 24. Fiscal year 2020 starts Oct. 1. Go to the City of Georgetown website at georgetown.org to see details about the proposed 2020 budget or to see the complete schedule for budget hearings and adoption.
City of Georgetown offices will be closed Monday, Jan. 20, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. There will be normal solid waste and recycling collection on Jan. 20.
City offices and facilities closed Jan. 20 for MLK Day include the following:
- Animal Shelter, 110 Walden Drive
- City Hall, 808 Martin Luther King Jr. St.
- Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Ave.
- Municipal Court, 510 W. Ninth St.
- Parks and Recreation Administration, 1101 N. College St.
- Planning Department, 406 W. Eighth St.
- Public Library, 402 W. Eighth St.
- Public Safety Operations and Training Center, Police Records and Fire Support Services offices, 3500 D.B. Wood Road
- Recreation Center, 1003 N. Austin Ave.
- Tennis Center, 400 Serenada Drive
Garey Park, 6450 RM 2243, will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Visitors Center at 103 W. Seventh St. will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20.
The Collection Station at 250 W.L. Walden Drive will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20.
GoGeo bus service
There will be no service Monday, Jan. 20.
Solid Waste and Recycling Collection
There will be normal residential solid waste and recycling collection for Texas Disposal Systems customers in the City of Georgetown on Monday, Jan. 20. For questions about solid waste collection, call TDS at (512) 930-1715.
Georgetown got some good news recently about a major event that is expected to have a significant tourism impact on our city. We know that the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas is a big attraction for tourists, but the Square is not our only major attraction. Every year our sports and recreation facilities and our parks bring thousands of tourists and visitors to our city for sports tournaments and other recreational or sporting events.
The United States Tennis Association announced in July that Georgetown won the three-year bid to host the Texas Slam, one of the largest junior tennis tournaments in the country. Approximately 1,100 participants ages 11 to 18 compete each year in the annual tournament held in June. Along with family members and other spectators, Georgetown can expect 3,000 to 4,000 visitors each year in 2020-22 for the Texas Slam tournament.
The Texas Slam is the premier junior event of the year for USTA Texas. The nine-day tennis tournament brings players, their families, and coaches from across the state of Texas. Georgetown was chosen to host the Texas Slam tournament in 2020-22 by a special USTA selection committee that reviewed multiple proposals.
Junior Tennis Council Chair Robert Rubel worked with the USTA selection committee to review the bids. “The committee has worked hard over the past several weeks evaluating all of the proposals for the Slam bid,” said Rubel in July. “After careful evaluation of all bids, the volunteer committee unanimously selected Georgetown as the future home of the tournament.”
The selection committee focused on the strength of the proposals related to the commitment and involvement of the host community. In selecting Georgetown, the committee highlighted the more than 150 tennis courts in Georgetown including courts at the Georgetown Tennis Center, Berry Creek Tennis Center, Sun City Texas, Southwestern University, the two Georgetown high schools, and three middle schools.
The Texas Slam is projected to generate an economic impact of $1.8 million per year. That economic impact includes hotel rooms, meals at restaurants, shopping, and other local purchases. The tournament is expected to fill an average of 400 hotel rooms per night for seven nights and will likely fill most of the 800 hotel rooms in Georgetown for the first nights of the tournament.
Our award-winning parks and recreation facilities, top-notch school facilities, Southwestern University, and our Beautiful Town Square will continue to attract sports tourism and recreation events to our community. These events are a significant engine of economic activity for Georgetown.
In June next year, if you see these young tennis players and their families on our tennis courts, in our restaurants, at our parks, or in our shops, I hope you will join me in welcoming them to Georgetown.
There was a time a few decades ago when everything we “threw away” went into a trashcan that was emptied into a truck and dumped into a landfill. Now with technology for sorting and processing materials, most of our “trash” is actually a variety of recoverable materials that can be sorted, processed, and made into new products.
Georgetown is part of this shift. We are now diverting much of our solid waste stream out of the landfill with programs for recycling, yard trimmings, household hazardous waste, and unwanted medications. Sorting and reusing more materials, combined with our growing population, have led to plans for a new transfer station.
New transfer station
After a collection truck leaves your house, the first stop for solid waste, recyclables, and yard trimmings is the City’s transfer and collection station on W.L. Walden Drive. There the materials are transferred from collection trucks to larger semi-trucks for the trip to the Texas Disposal Systems landfill, recycling, and composting facility south of Austin. The current transfer and collection station in Georgetown opened in 1984 when the city’s population was about 12,000. Thirty-five years later, with a population of more than 70,000, the transfer station demand is exceeding its capacity.
As part of an overall Solid Waste Master Plan, the City is now designing a new transfer station. The facility will increase capacity and efficiency with drive-through truck bays for three material streams: recyclables, compost/green material, and landfill material. Construction on the new $9.5 million transfer station is set to begin next summer with completion in the spring of 2021.
While the new transfer station will help to more efficiently process the solid waste steam, we still need help from every resident to put items in the right cart.
What can I recycle?
Knowing what is and is not recyclable and putting items in the right cart will ensure that we reduce problems with contamination for recyclables or yard trimmings. That will help us to divert more material from the landfill.
Recyclable items are sorted and baled at the TDS materials recovery facility. These materials like mixed paper, cardboard, metal cans, and plastic containers are sold to buyers who use these materials to make new products.
Items that are recyclable include aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles, corrugated cardboard, paperboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, telephone books, office paper, plastics #1 – #7, and plastic bags that have been put into a yellow Bag-the-Bag stuffer bag (available at Georgetown Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Ave. or Sun City Social Center, 2 Texas Drive).
Items that are not recyclable include aerosol cans, used paper towels or tissues, loose plastic bags, Styrofoam, snack bags (like chip bags), and paper coffee cups (paper sleeves and plastic lids are OK).
Quick tips: Leave recyclable items loose in the cart and do not place in a bag. And be sure to separate boxes from plastic wrapping as these cannot be readily separated during sorting and processing. For a complete list of recyclables, go to recycle.georgetown.org/single-stream-recycling.
Monthly collection of “green waste” or yard trimmings for City of Georgetown residents is on your first recycle pickup of the month. Leaves, branches, weeds, and other yard trimmings can be put in paper kraft bags, in a container marked “yard trimmings,” or in bundles (35 pounds, four-foot max.). The organic material collected is turned into mulch available at the Collection Station or turned into a variety of compost products at the TDS facility.
Household hazardous waste vouchers
The City is initiating a new program this month for collection of household hazardous wastes such as antifreeze, fertilizer, motor oil, paint, pesticides, pool chemicals, or solvents. Georgetown city residents will be able to receive a voucher from the City of Georgetown to take household hazardous waste items to a facility in Round Rock. Find out more about the new household hazardous waste vouchers at recycle.georgtown.org.
Email Georgetown Customer Care at email@example.com to request information or a voucher. Visit Round Rock’s household hazardous waste site to learn about collection events and acceptable materials: roundrocktexas.gov/departments/utilities-and-environmental-services/solid-waste-recycling/household-hazardous-waste-disposal.
To learn more about recycling, yard trimmings, or other solid waste programs, or to look up your pickup schedule, go to recycle.georgetown.org.
Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates showing that Georgetown is ranked seventh on the list of fastest-growing cities in the country with a population of more than 50,000. Georgetown’s growth rate was 5.2 percent from July 1, 2017, through July 1, 2018, resulting in a population estimate of 74,180.
Now I promise, we’re not trying to be the fastest-growing city in the U.S. Frankly, people choose Georgetown because we are a safe city with a high-quality of life, great parks, an award-winning library, a low tax rate, and the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas. We recognize what a great place Georgetown is, and others recognize it, too.
Certainly one reason we are attracting so many people is that Georgetown is well-positioned in a fast-growing metro area. We are working to make the most of opportunities to bring high-quality employers to our city, while preserving Georgetown’s authentic charm and character. We’re fortunate to have like-minded partners such as Southwestern University, Georgetown ISD, Williamson County, St. David’s, and Sun City, too.
Georgetown was the sixth fastest-growing city in the U.S. on the list released last year by the Census. In 2017, Georgetown was the fifth fastest-growing city in the U.S., the fastest in 2016, and the second fastest in 2015. Our population was 47,400 in the 2010 census. According to the Census estimate, Georgetown added 26,780 residents with a growth rate of 56.5 percent from 2010 to 2018.
The addition of new residents and businesses does help the City maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the region. This growth helps fund the infrastructure needed to prepare for our residents. In fact, we are on pace to complete a decade’s worth of voter approved road bonds in just seven years.
We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can stop growth. According to the Texas Demographic Center, the Austin region is expected to more than double in size by the year 2050. Central Texas will go from 2 million in population to 5 million.
What is Georgetown doing to prepare for the growth we know is coming?
In the summer of 2016, the Economic Development Department conducted a workforce analysis to determine the supply, demand, and gap of workers and skill sets.
According to current projections, five industry clusters will account for 75 percent of all new jobs. Those five areas are healthcare, retail, electronics, entertainment, and construction.
These projections are all consistent with the recent investments we’ve seen in Georgetown. These are some of the projects planned or underway which each can be seen as the result of our growing population:
- Wolf Crossing – a 600,000-square-foot retail development at the southeast corner of Interstate 35 and University Avenue along the San Gabriel River, with stores opening the end of this year
- Sedro Crossing – a 170,000-square-foot speculative professional office development on Williams Drive currently under construction
- Westinghouse Road Corporate Center – a 95,000-square-foot speculative flex development over five buildings on Westinghouse Road
- Inner Vision – a speculative flex development expanding with an additional 22,000 square feet currently under construction on SE Inner Loop
- Wolf Lakes Village – a 164-acre, master-planned development with office, retail, and residential elements on the northwest corner of I-35 and University Avenue with plans to break ground on the first phase later this year
All of these developments, along with new infill projects in our historic downtown, are evidence of Georgetown’s growing population and vibrant economy.
These types of investments and partnerships are what allow us to protect and maintain the safe, small-town feel that our residents expect us to preserve. City Council is committed to preserving Georgetown’s unique charm and character – from the San Gabriel River, to its great school district and Southwestern University, to having the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas – because these are the reasons why people choose to make Georgetown their home.
Addressing the need to provide more water for residents and businesses in our fast-growing region is an important responsibility of the City. We have a three-pronged approach to respond to that demand. First, we have adopted irrigation schedules, water rates, and rebates to encourage smart water use. Second, we have entered into agreements to secure the water we need for the future. Third, we are expanding treatment, storage, and distribution capacity of our system to better serve a growing number of customers.
Here is a deeper dive into the steps the City is taking to meet current and future water needs.
Two-day watering schedule
Last month, City Council approved new rules related to outdoor water use. The change, which goes into effect May 8, means that the two-day watering schedule is now the permanent year-round schedule. The schedule for irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers is based on the last digit of the customer street address. This chart shows the schedule:
|Address ends in:||May water these days:|
|1, 5, 9||Tue. and/or Fri.|
|2, 4, 6, 8||Wed. and/or Sat.|
|0, 3, 7||Thu. and/or Sun.|
This two-day schedule spreads watering over six days each week in order to balance demand on the water system. Irrigation is still not permitted on Monday, which is used as a recovery and maintenance day for the system.
Watering with an irrigation system or hose-end sprinkler should not be done between the hours of noon to 7 p.m. each day. Using a hand-held hose or bucket, vehicle washing, or filling a swimming pool can be any day and at any time. Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines.
The City offers three new rebates for customers encouraging smart water use. Customers can receive up to $150 in rebates for the following programs: changing their irrigation system from a spray system to a drip system, installing a wi-fi enabled “smart” controller to help irrigation systems run more efficiently, and up to $150 in rebate for converting spray nozzles to multi-stream nozzles. Visit gus.georgetown.org/water/rebate for details.
Water rates are tiered so that as water use increases, rates also increase. The monthly rate per thousand gallons is $1.75 for up to 10,000 gallons of water. At 11,000 gallons, the rate increases to $2.40 per thousand gallons. And then $4.00 per thousand at 21,000 gallons, $6.50 per thousand at 41,000 gallons, and $8.50 per thousand at 61,000 gallons. The higher rates for the biggest water use levels reflect the cost to build plant, storage, and distribution system capacity that is required to meet such demand.
The second strategy for responding to water use is to ensure an adequate supply of raw water. Georgetown’s water supply comes from groundwater wells and surface water in Lake Georgetown and Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Water from Stillhouse Hollow Lake is pumped to Lake Georgetown through a pipeline. In addition, the utility has an agreement with the City of Round Rock that allows Georgetown to purchase water exceeding their system needs through a connection between the two cities. We are working on similar agreements with Leander and Liberty Hill to enhance system resilience.
The current projection, given population growth, is that these water sources will meet demand through 2042. To extend the City’s current water supply to meet demand through 2053, we need to reduce overall demand by 15 percent. Meeting that goal involves water conservation measures and innovative water management strategies.
Water system capacity
The third strategy to provide more water for use is to expand water treatment, distribution, and storage capacity. The goal of the water utility is to deliver this infrastructure when it is needed so that customers pay for these projects only when they are required to meet demand.
Some of the major improvements recently completed include the 2 million gallon Cedar Breaks tank (2017), the 2 million gallon Sun City tank (2019), the 3 million gallon Domel pump station (2018), and the Pastor pump station expansion (2018).
Water system improvements currently underway include a 3 million gallon Braun tank on west Highway 29, expansion of the intake structure at the Lake Water Treatment plant, a 30-inch water line along Ronald Reagan Boulevard, and a 24-inch water line on DB Wood Road. In addition, the City is in the design and permitting process to build a new water treatment plant on south shore of Lake Georgetown.
These expansions to our water treatment, distribution, and storage system are an important way that the City is working to meet the needs of population growth in our area. We will continue to explore options for new water supply and ways to extend our current supply. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the sensible use of our shared resource and in guaranteeing that we have the water we need for the next generation here in Georgetown.
It has been an amazing year in Georgetown. Looking back on 2018, there are so many good stories to celebrate. Here are my picks for the Top-10 stories of 2018.
10. South’s Best lists: Georgetown was honored this year to be named No. 1 on The South’s Best Cities to Live in 2018 by Southern Living magazine (www.southernliving.com/souths-best/best-cities-to-live) and we were No. 12 on The South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 list by Southern Living, (www.southernliving.com/souths-best/prettiest-cities). It’s good to see others recognize what we already know to be true about Georgetown!
9. Citizen Survey: The survey conducted by Texas State University found that 81 percent of residents rate the value of city services as good or excellent, which is a slight increase over the 2016 survey results. We also found that 98 percent of respondents rate overall quality of life in Georgetown as good or excellent.
8. Teen Court: The City of Georgetown Teen Court program, which has won recognition as the top teen court program in the Texas, marked its 25th anniversary this year. Georgetown’s Teen Court also hosted the statewide Teen Court Association of Texas annual conference this fall.
7. 2030 Plan: This year we began an update to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which guides our future growth. As part of the update, the City hosted On the Table in October. The event involved more than 1,500 people from all across the community in imagining our future. It was especially great to see many students from our schools and Southwestern University involved in On the Table.
6. Renewable energy: The Buckthorn solar farm in Fort Stockton began supplying energy to Georgetown in July. This fall, Georgetown won a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help fund a project to generate power locally with rooftop solar panels and batteries.
5. Public Library: In May, the Georgetown Public Library was named a recipient of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries. The San Antonio Public Library is the only other public library in Texas to have won the award.
4. Business development: In January, a Holt Cat dealership for Caterpillar construction equipment broke ground on Airport Road. The Wolf Crossing retail center at the southeast corner of Interstate 35 at University Avenue started construction in October. This 250,000-square-foot project includes restaurants, medical facilities, a hotel, and a grocery store. The City approved plans for Wolf Lakes Village at the northwest corner of I-35 and University. At full build out, the Wolf Lakes will include 4 million square feet of corporate offices, retail, entertainment, hotels, and housing valued at $1.7 billion. Other new businesses include the Randall’s grocery store on Williams Drive and the Natural Grocers on Wolf Ranch Parkway.
3. Downtown vibrancy: With Georgetown City Center nearing completion on the west side of downtown, the City will soon move to a new City Hall, Council, and Court building on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. The City also sold two buildings around the Square this year. The former Post Office at 113 E. Eighth St. will be a ballroom, restaurant, and bar, and the Municipal Court and Council Chambers at 101 E. Seventh St. will become a restaurant and micro-distillery. New buildings going up in downtown include the Watkins Building on Main Street, a CVS on University Avenue, Heritage Courts on Eighth Street, and the new the Palace Theater Smith Performance Center on Rock Street. Downtown was also named one of five Great Place in America by the American Planning Association.
2. Transportation: The first segment of Southwest Bypass, the largest city road project yet, opened in July. Funded by the 2015 city transportation bond, the new road provides a north-south connection on the west side of Georgetown from D.B. Wood Road to Leander Road. In August, the City began work on the Rivery Boulevard extension, which extends the road north to Northwest Boulevard. In December, we marked the completion of the FM 1460 project, which expanded the roadway into a four-lane arterial from Georgetown to Round Rock. Georgetown partnered with Texas Department of Transportation, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of Round Rock, and Williamson County to fund this project.
1. Parks: The 525-acre Garey Park, gifted to the city by Jack and Cammy Garey, opened in June. Thousands have visited this rolling-hills oasis to enjoy the one-of-a-kind playground, splash pad, dog park, equestrian arena, hiking and equestrian trails, and the Garey House event center. The first phase of renovations of San Gabriel Park also were completed this summer, including a new playground, pavilions, and the restoration of the natural spring habitat along the San Gabriel River. Phase 2 renovations kicked off this summer.