Georgetown to host thousands for tennis tournament 2020-22

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.

Recovering recyclable and green materials

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.

Yard trimmings

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 customercare@georgetown.org 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.

Georgetown is seventh fastest-growing city in U.S.

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.

Meeting our water needs for the future-May 2019

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, 9Tue. and/or Fri.
2, 4, 6, 8Wed. and/or Sat.
0, 3, 7Thu. 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.

Rebates

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.

Rates

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.

Water supply

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.

Top ten stories for 2018

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.

New fire stations and medic unit planned

The Georgetown Fire/Medical Department continues to plan for new facilities, equipment, and staff in order to maintain exceptional emergency response services in our growing city. I want to share with you some highlights about these plans from a report by Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan to the City Council at the end of last year.

Fire Station 6

Construction should begin this summer on the sixth fire station in the city’s fire/medical response area. Fire Station 6 will be located on Williams Drive at Farm to Market 3405. The new station will help to provide emergency response in the northwest sector of the city’s emergency response area.

Williamson County Emergency Services District 8 is funding the cost of Fire Station 6 and Georgetown Fire/Medical Department will staff and operate the station. Fire Station 6 will help to provide fire and medical response across the whole service area like other Georgetown fire stations.

When Fire Station 6 opens next year, an engine company currently at Fire Station 5 will move to Fire Station 6. Fire Station 5 will continue to be staffed with a truck company and a medic company.

Fire Station 7

Plans for a seventh fire station also are underway. The city is working to acquire property near the intersection of SH 29 and Inner Loop Road for the station. Fire Station 7 will serve the eastern areas of the city’s emergency service area. The design of Fire Station 7 is set to begin this spring and construction should begin later this year. The station is expected to open by the end of 2019.

Future fire station locations being explored include a location on Westinghouse Road at FM 1460 and another location on SH 29 west of DB Wood road. The Westinghouse Road location could be a station jointly built and operated by the City of Georgetown and the City of Round Rock since it would serve growing areas in both cities.

EMS medic unit

In January, the City Council approved funding for a fifth ambulance unit that should be implemented later this year. This medical response vehicle along with the paramedics to staff it will help address EMS peak demands that are increasing in the City.

One illustration of increased peak demand is measured by concurrent demand, which is when EMS is responding to multiple calls. In 2013, concurrent medical calls occurred 4 percent of the time. By 2017, concurrent medical calls increased to 30 percent of the time.

Fire and EMS report

Here are some additional data points of note from Chief Sullivan’s report on the Georgetown Fire/Medical Department.

It should come as no surprise, since we have been one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation for the past few years, to learn that there has been a 56 percent increase in call activity and demand for service since 2013.

Single-unit responses have increased from 15 percent of calls in 2016 to 30 percent of calls in 2017. A single-unit response means that one ambulance or fire truck responds to a call. The increase in single units responding is due to the deployment of medic units and the deployment of advanced life-saving equipment on fire trucks.

There are good numbers to report on fire/medical response times for the department. Different measurements can be used for response times. If we look at the time of dispatch to the time of arrival, the response time has been reduced by an average of 36 seconds since 2012 from 5:53 to 5:17. If we look at the call-to-door response time, which includes 911 call taking, dispatch, turnout time, response, and arrival, the average has been reduced 34 seconds since 2012 from 6:56 to 6:22. Either way it is measured, the department is getting to emergencies more quickly in order to begin critical care and render aid.

Overall, Chief Sullivan reported to council that fire-based EMS has resulted in improved ability to handle concurrent calls or peak demand, improved call-to-door response time, improved reliability, and decreased general fund costs for staffing additional units.

These plans for new stations, equipment, and staff and the report on improved response times are reasons to feel good about emergency services in our city. Despite the fast growth we have been experiencing, our Georgetown Fire/Medical Department is planning and innovating to maintain excellent emergency services on which we can rely.

Council sets vision, goals, and strategies

The Georgetown City Council confirmed a new vision statement for the city and developed five goals and nine strategies to support that vision as a result of a two-month process in 2017.

“Georgetown: A caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future” was approved by the City Council as the new vision statement to express the city’s identity and aspirations.

The vision statement was developed by the City Council in goal setting meetings in November last year. Ideas and input for the vision statement came from residents in two community surveys conducted last September and October. The vision statement helps to align the community’s future direction and serves as a building block for updating the City’s comprehensive plan, future branding initiatives, and City Council goal-setting.

In addition to approving the vision statement, the City Council set five goals and nine strategies to advance those goals.

Council goals

The City Council affirmed five broad goals in support of the overall vision for Georgetown. Those goals, which create a framework for all facets of city operations, include the following:

Cultural: Georgetown is a truly diverse, vibrant, innovative, inclusive, and socially dynamic city where everyone has the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, our economic, political, and social activities.

Employee: Our outstanding City employees work diligently to bring the vision of council to life and deliver exceptional services to our customers while exemplifying our Core Values.

Internal Business Processes: Our policies and procedures are easy to understand and consistently and professionally applied. Our internal processes are effective, efficient, fair, inventive, and transparent and make us a desired destination for residents and businesses.

Customer: Anyone interacting with the City will have such a positive experience that they will tell everyone about it.

Financial: We maintain a fiscal environment conducive to attaining the goals of the City.

Council strategies

In support of broad goals and the overall mission, the City Council also developed nine strategies to advance the vision and goals. The nine strategies represent a refinement of 14 strategies set by the council in 2015, several of which have been fully accomplished. The new list of strategies serves to establish a direction for city programs and operations. The strategies include:

  1. Become a destination for unique experiences
  2. Create a strategy to increase mobility
  3. Promote greater diversity in our population and our businesses
  4. Create and maintain outstanding aesthetics and a welcoming appearance and spirit
  5. Refine an annexation and MUD strategy
  6. Monitor, promote, and communicate a long-term water and utilities plan and strategy
  7. Expand on our reputation as a City of Innovation
  8. Increase our influence with state government
  9. Expand our role to develop collaborative strategies with Georgetown ISD, Southwestern University, and other entities

The vision, goals, and strategies approved by the City Council serve as a starting point for an update to the City’s comprehensive plan, which is now underway. They also serve as a framework for future projects, programs, budgets, and other initiatives by the City of Georgetown.

Celebrating Earth Day

Every April, the City of Georgetown offers programs and events to celebrate Earth Day. There are many ways you can help our city continue its leadership in environmental stewardship. They include telling our story of innovation in 100 percent renewable energy, learning about our planet at the Georgetown Public Library, and having fun at the Red Poppy Festival in a sustainable way.

Solar power to start

Three years ago, Georgetown announced that our public utility had signed contracts for energy generated by the wind and the sun that would make us a 100-percent-renewable city. In October of 2015, the Spinning Spur 3 project with 97 wind turbines came online. This wind farm near Amarillo has been supplying most of our contracted power needs since then.

This month, the 150-megawatt Buckthorn solar plant near Fort Stockton owned by NRG Energy is set to begin operations. Our municipal electric utility should begin purchasing power from the solar plant this summer. When that happens, our power sources will be 100 percent renewable, making us one of a handful of cites in the U.S. to be powered by the wind and the sun.

Georgetown’s identity as a 100 percent renewable power city has garnered interest from companies and conferences. As more stories appear about our sun- and wind-powered city—like the recent spread in Smithsonian magazine—look for more companies and events to back their bags and head to the Greatest and Greenest City on Planet Earth.

Mayors Challenge grant

Last month, Georgetown learned that we are one of 35 cities selected as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition encouraging city leaders to develop innovative ideas. The challenge is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Georgetown’s innovative idea is to develop a “virtual power plant” in which the city utility creates a network of leased solar panels on the roofs of homes and businesses. Georgetown now advances to a six-month “test, learn, and adapt” phase of the competition. Cities refine their ideas with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their innovations. Cities submit a new application in August 2018 for a chance to win $5 million to implement their idea.

Library programs on Monarch butterflies

Earth Day involves learning about the ecosystems of our planet, and this year the Georgetown Public Library along with the Southwestern University Environmental Studies Program and Smith Library Center are co-sponsoring a group of Earth Day events at the Georgetown library, 402 W. Eighth St.

The library will host two stand-alone discussions on Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Flight Behavior” April 17 and April 23. On April 30, at 7 p.m. David Wolfe, director of conservation strategies at the Environmental Defense Fund, will present “Monarch Butterflies: Threats and What You Can Do to Help.” Southwestern Professor Emily Northrop will also present a talk on Tuesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. titled “Reducing CO2 Pollution for Monarchs and Humans.” For details, visit library.georgetown.org/flight-behavior.

Red Poppy Festival and Zero Waste initiative

It’s April, and that means it is time for the Red Poppy Festival, our signature celebration of spring. The 19th annual Red Poppy Festival on the downtown Square is April 27-29. I’ll be in the Red Poppy Parade on Saturday at 10 a.m. Joe Nichols is the headliner at the Saturday night concert. The festival organizers continue to work toward the becoming a zero waste event, which means 90 percent of the waste from the event is recycled, composted, or otherwise diverted from the landfill. Last year, zero waste efforts resulted in a 69 percent diversion rate. You can help to reach the zero waste goal by bringing reusable shopping bags and personal water containers to the event and using the recycling and composting stations at the festival. For all the details on the festival, go to RedPoppyFestival.com.

As you can see, there are many ways to learn and be involved in environmental stewardship in Georgetown for Earth Day this year. I hope to see you at the Red Poppy Festival!

One Extraordinary CommUNITY

Mindful of the ongoing national dialogue regarding public trust and policing, the Georgetown Police Department has created a new initiative called CommUNITY. The program is a framework for community engagement and is the brainchild of Police Chief Wayne Nero. I’d like to share with you an overview of the CommUNITY initiative, and in so doing, I think you’ll see how people from across Georgetown are becoming involved.

The initiative recognizes that the police department can take a leadership role in bringing elements of the community together. The police department is more likely to be successful in its primary mission of protecting public safety when there are strong connections among various stakeholder groups in the community.

The name of the initiative, CommUNITY, places emphasis on the unity in community. That idea also is expressed in the vision statement for the CommUNITY initiative—One Extraordinary Community. The mission of the initiative that supports this vision is to forge strong relationships across various stakeholder groups that provide opportunities for constructive dialogue—or problem-solving—which, through mutual trust and understanding, enables unity that is sustainable.

Seven stakeholder groups in the community are the focus of the program. These include neighborhoods, youth, the business community, seniors, faith-based organizations, non-governmental or social service organizations, and news media. Members of the Georgetown Police Department, as well as volunteers with the department, aim to be engaged with these stakeholder groups in a way that is guided by eight principles: accountability, compassion, justice, kindness, knowledge, patience, respect, and unity.

The police department currently works to strengthen engagement with stakeholder groups through a range of programs and efforts. Some of these programs were started many years ago while others are just beginning.

For neighborhoods, these programs and efforts include neighborhood patrols, directed patrols, community discussions, Citizen Police Academy, crime bulletins, and focused problem-solving.

Youth engagement includes patrols at schools, a Youth Police Academy held over the summer, a new Youth Leadership Program being discussed in partnership with Georgetown ISD, and school safety and security initiatives. Police interactions with youth also include established programs such as Blue Santa, Police Explorers, and the Chase the Chief 5k and Fun Run.

For seniors, programs include the Take Me Home database to help identify persons who may be lost, the Silver Shields program offering safety information for homebound or special-needs seniors, and on-going public education to bring awareness to crimes targeting seniors.

Police engagement with the business community includes business patrols, crime bulletins or analyses, problem-solving, and outreach efforts to enhance crime prevention.

Three other key stakeholder groups include faith-based organizations, non-governmental or social service organizations, and news media. Engagement efforts with these stakeholder groups include sharing resources, community discussions, problem-solving, and sharing positive stories.

The CommUNITY initiative recognizes that members and volunteers of the Georgetown Police Department can effectively engage with these stakeholder groups by building relationships. Those relationships between people are built on a foundation of mutual respect, common problem-solving and meaningful dialogue.

In addition to engagement with stakeholder groups through programs and events, the Chief of Police is in the process of establishing a CommUNITY Advisory Group comprised of leaders from those groups. The advisory group will serve to give counsel to the Chief of Police on a range of community issues. There will also be CommUNITY Stakeholder Subcommittees within each of the stakeholder groups. These subcommittees will include leaders within the specific stakeholder groups as well as police department staff who work collaboratively identifying and developing opportunities for partnership and community engagement.

The CommUNITY initiative is a framework for the Georgetown Police Department to strengthen existing community relationships, as well as strategically build new relationships with the people in our community. The initiative is based on the recognition that police work does not happen in a vacuum, but in relationships with the various stakeholders in the community. As relationships are strengthened, the police department plays a role in helping to bring together Georgetown into one extraordinary community.

Transportation projects update

Mobility and traffic improvements in our fast-growing city are a high priority for many of you. Three years ago, 75 percent of Georgetown voters approved a $105 million set of transportation projects to make key improvements. The election authorized the City to plan, design, or construct 20 transportation projects over 10 years.

Here’s an update on the 2015 transportation bond projects that are underway or starting soon, as well as some other current road projects.

Southwest Bypass

The City’s portion of the Southwest Bypass project is nearly complete. This 2.4-mile arterial is a north-south connector aligning with D.B. Wood Road and extending from University Avenue to Leander Road. The new $18.3 million road—the first 2015 bond project to start construction—will be completed and open to traffic this summer. Another segment of Southwest Bypass is being built by Williamson County. This segment connecting Leander Road to I-35 is slated to be complete in 2020. When finished, Southwest Bypass will create a loop around the southwest quadrant of the city from I-35 to University Avenue.

Rivery Boulevard Extension

This road extends Rivery Boulevard to the north from Williams Drive to Northwest Boulevard. Construction on this 2015 bond project begins this summer. The new four-lane road will provide an alternative to Williams Drive and offer another route in the busy area around Williams Drive and I-35. The road also provides a link from I-35 to the Rivery conference center and retail area and connects to a planned new bridge over I-35 at Northwest Boulevard.

Northwest Boulevard Bridge

The Northwest Boulevard project reconstructs the road from Fontana Drive to Austin Avenue and includes a new bridge over I-35. The bridge will be a new east-west connection over the interstate and an alternative to Williams Drive. This 2015 bond project connects with Rivery Boulevard to the west and FM 971 on the east. Design and right-of-way acquisition are nearing completion this summer. Construction is expected to begin this winter.

FM 971 realignment

Farm to Market 971 will be realigned from Austin Avenue eastward to Gann Street in order to connect with the Northwest Boulevard road and bridge project. This will allow FM 971 to link to Northwest Boulevard and become an east-west connection across I-35. Design work for this 2008 road bond project should be completed this summer.

FM 1460

The Farm to Market 1460 project by the Texas Department of Transportation is a new 3.5 mile highway segment from Quail Valley Drive to University Boulevard. The new four lane road also provides a north-south alternate and reliever to Interstate 35. Funding for the project includes $13 million in Georgetown 2008 transportation bonds as well $11.4 million in federal funding, $7.8 million in state funding, and $2.6 million from the City of Round Rock and Williamson County. The new roadway is expected to be complete later this year.

Airport Road

Airport Road is being reconstructed as a five-lane roadway from Lakeway Drive to Halmar Cove. The project is funded by the Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation. Construction is scheduled to start this summer.

Sidewalks

Construction should begin later this year on new sidewalks along Seventh Street and Eighth Street between Maple and Church streets. The sidewalks will improve pedestrian and ADA accessibility between Southwestern University and the Square. An open house meeting was held on May 1 to get feedback on the project from affected property owners. The 2015 transportation bond package includes $10 million for sidewalks over 10 years to address priority projects identified in the Sidewalks Master Plan.

For updates on transportation projects, go to bonds.georgetown.org or follow the City of Georgetown on Facebook, Twitter, or Nextdoor.