Organizational meeting of the Coalition to Save the Hill Country

The Hill Country Alliance had its first organizational meeting at the home of Christy Muse, a Bee Creek area community activist, on September 4, 2004. Christy initiated the meeting and brought together representatives from the Guardians of Lick Creek, Travis Settlement/Bee Creek, Lakeway First, Crosswind HOA, the Hamilton Pool Road Scenic Corridor Coalition, Concerned Citizens of Spicewood, the SEED Coalition, Texas Public Citizen and the SOS Alliance. The organizing group, constituting an ad hoc steering committee decided on three principles for the organization to focus on.

The principles, it was determined, should be broad enough to be acceptable to a wide variety of people of varying political persuasions. All were able to agree on these three basic ideas:
1. Protect and preserve the rural character of the Texas Hill Country
2. (Along the same lines as the above) Keep a check on urban sprawl
3. Protect the quality and supply of our water and waterways.

In addition, it was suggested that this Coalition act as a united front in representing these principles when dealing with the LCRA, the various counties that cover the Hill Country and the State Legislature. Other purposes for the organization that were discussed included serving as a watchdog group and communications medium to alert member organizations and their individual members of new challenges as they arise, to lobby for legislation and regulations that would advance our common goals and, possibly, to fundraise together for funds to accomplish the above.

Cindy Phillips of the Guardians of Lick Creek pointed out that there is a pressing need for community education about issues that affect us all. Bill Bunch of the SOS Alliance made the case that the best way to protect land is for people of means to buy it and dedicate it for conservation purposes. He also pointed out that "Envision Central Texas" is too vague to mean anything. Richard Scroggins of Lick Creek reminded us of the alarming statement made by Lazy 9 developer Bill Gunn, who said (in defense of the "sustainable" quality of his development) "our model is Lakepointe." Ouch! Pepper Morris, of Lick Creek, told us of a real model development, built by a man named Bamberger. She said "Bamberger has shown what developers can do. He took a crappy piece of land and made it a showplace."

Now here's another alarming bit of info. John Hatchett (quoting engineer Lauren Ross) said that just another 31 MUDs the size of Lazy 9 would drain all the water from the Highland Lakes. Rainwater anyone?

Lee Carrell of the Concerned Citizens of Spicewood brought with him a proposal for a Hill Country scenic drive to act as a tourist attraction. He makes the point that tourism brings $100 million per day into the state and that systems need to be put in place to reward developers for doing good things and preventing messing that income up. Check out his proposal and see what you think. It is called the Lady Bird Scenic Loop.

The next task for the group is to reach out to other organizations throughout the Hill Country such as property owners associations and environmental and neighborhood activist groups. It is hoped that we can make this Coalition a force to be reckoned with by bringing in as many entities and the individuals they represent as possible. If we can show the governmental and quasi-governmental agencies that we have a real and powerful constituency, perhaps we can have a voice in shaping the policies that will have enormous effects on our futures and the future of our beloved Hill Country.

Subsequent Meetings

The second Coalition meeting was held at the way too dark to take a decent picture Cedars Restaurant, on Monday, September 20th. Quite a few more people showed up than at the first meeting.

Several meetings have been held since then and the coalition now represents 12 organizations plus a number of unaffiliated individuals. Reports about what goes on at HCC meetings will not be published here. For Hill Country Coalition information, access the group's website: www.hillcountryalliance.org.

If you are an interested individual or in a group not currently involved, to become part of the Coalition, please send an email to Christy Muse.

Statesman picture of demonstration Bright and early on a frosty December 15th morning, several sturdy coalition members stood outside the LCRA headquarters to greet the arriving employees and board members with a protest. Here's the picture from the Austin American Statesman.

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