OF OLD ARTICLES
EXPENSIVE AND UNNECESSARY NEW BRIDGE: SIGN THE PETITION
In addition to the petition regarding the CAMPO plan (see below),
there is another petition asking Travis County and TXDOT to eliminate
or greatly scale back their plans to build a new bridge over
the Pedernales at Hammett's Crossing.
information about the bridge can be found here. NOTE: This refers to an old petition. See the home page for the new one.
CAMPO'S ILL-CONCEIVED PLAN FOR 4-LANE HIGHWAY: SIGN THE PETITION
A petition is being circulated to be presented to CAMPO and Travis
County Commissioners. It asks that the CAMPO 2030 plan, which
projects Hamilton Pool Road exploding into a 4-lane divided
highway all the way to the Blanco County line (about
2 miles west of the Pedernales River), be returned to a much
more sane, earlier plan. Find out more here.
Or, if you know all you need to know, sign the on-line
petition then tell your friends about the link or
download the hardcopy
petition and supporting materials and
start collecting signatures. We'd like to get all signed petitions
back by December 8th.
DOT & COUNTY TRY TO SNEAK IN STEALTH BRIDGE AT HAMMETT'S
24, 2007 - Update
had a community meeting last evening at Westcave Preserve
and there was almost unanimous opposition to any
sort of new bridge. Unfortunately, we found out some additional
horrifying info about Travis County's, TxDOT's and CAMPO's
plans for Hamilton Pool Road. Seems they see it as a 4 lane
arterial by 2030. Read more at Hugh
Winkler's excellent blog.
October 13, 2007 - Update
Surveying has begun in earnest. A crew was out here yesterday,
setting survey points. For pix and description, see below.
funds would provide 80% of the cost of construction of a new, high
bridge. Read the story. Here's
TRAVIS ISD MAY NOT TAKE FAMILY RANCH (UPDATE OF BELOW ARTICLE)
the petitions came pouring in and it became abundantly clear
that the current school board members would not have widespread
community support in the upcoming board elections, they started
to hedge a bit. At that point, the board released this
statement, which indicated that they may rescind their resolution
requesting court-ordered access to the Grumbles' property.
on February 13th, they released this backpedaling
hedges on their former hedging. It states that, while they will
continue to work in the "best interest" of the school district
(meaning they still may go after the Grumbles' property), "no
judicial action will be taken at this time". Let's see what happens
after the elections.
TRAVIS ISD TAKING FAMILY RANCH
January 22, 2007
woulda thunk it? Lake Travis Independent School District has
decided that they need the Grumbles family's ranch, which contains
300 beautiful acres situated at the eastern end of Hamilton
Pool Road, going through to Highway 71 West. On that land they
want to build a bus maintenance facility, a new school, a stadium
and a sports complex. The Grumbles family has occupied that
land for over 100 years. 6 generations have lived on and scraped
out a living from that working ranch and 3 generations of Grumbles
are living there now. The family is clear. They do not want
sell. They have been offered some extremely lucrative offers
and have turned them down because this is their home! But the
school district has the power of eminent domain, which translates
to "screw you and your family heritage". They will not do this
to our neighbors without a fight. This evening, a bunch of
local folks showed up at the LTISD Board meeting and testified
on the Grumbles' behalf. Here's a link to a 22 minute streaming
video in RealMedia: Play
Video Apologies for the less
than perfect quality but it does, at least, contain all the testimony.
January 30, 2007 the school district released this
making some cockamamie point about how, since one family member
had at one time agreed to talk with them about the possibility
of selling, they had passed a resolution on January 8th to take
legal action to get access to the property against the family's
BELVEDERE" MEETS LCRA'S (INADEQUATE) CONDITIONS
a new neighboring development out here on Hamilton Pool Road
was, according to developer Joel Robuck, pumping 57,000 gallons
per day from a well to keep a one acre water feature (a "lake"
with a fountain) topped off. So much water
was required because, in addition to loss from evaporation, it
is a leaky lake with a crumbling dam which allows substantial
pumping after meeting with a green builder who is
4 lots in
and who expressed concern about the waste of water. Unfortunately,
the development's water contract with the LCRA only restricts
pumping for subdivided areas of 10 acres or less. The lake is
part of a larger area adjacent to the "amenity center" and is
not subject to the pumping restriction. However, at least for
the time being, Robuck seems to be doing the right thing and
has suspended drilling another well next to a larger, 3 acre
lake on another part of the property. Photos
are available for
your viewing displeasure. And, here is a press
release put out
on the situation by the Hill Country Alliance.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS CAVE IN & APPROVE FOULWATER DEVELOPMENT
After numerous postponements and all sorts of posturing, the Travis County
Commissioners caved in to developer Bill Gunn and gave their approval
to the horrendous "Sweetwater" development
which will include over 1,800 homes on lots (as small as 1/6 acre each) that
drain into Bee Creek and spray their effluent across about 300 acres in the
Barton Creek watershed. I don't know about you but I kinda knew it was innevitable.
The developers just about always win around these parts, especially tenacious
bull dogs like Gunn.
champion through this entire nasty process has been our
own Commissioner Daugherty who, for a while, was the lone voice
in favor of this Hill Country-destroying proposal. The guy has
chunk of concrete he didn't like. Dougherty has consistently
paid lip service to protection of the Hill Country while supporting
the worst sorts of development. He's got to go. In the vote this
time, all Commissioners except Ron Davis joined the
more information (and a more "political" point of view), check
out what the Hill Country Alliance wrote here.
Sweetwater will be rearing its ugly head again and again. Stay
tuned for reports of unbearable traffic and the associated accidents,
as well as environmental degradation resulting from this monstrosity.
6, 2006 - This, I'm told, is a Blotched Water Snake. I photographed
him and his buddy (mate?) as they fished down by the Hammett's
Crossing bridge. I couldn't get a good picture of it but
the other snake seemed to have swallowed a fish that was
way too big and was writhing around down in the mud under
water. Supposedly, these are not venomous but can be aggressive.
Anybody have any more information on them?
LANDING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD? WHAT NEXT?
6, 2006 - There's a new King
Ranch on the way. Also known as Shovel Mountain Ranch, this
is a project of developer Jeff Maddux who purchased the property
in March and has
since added 2 smaller ranches north of it to connect it to Highway
71 near Spicewood Vineyard. Rumor has it that Jeff
wants to build 12 miles of road to connect the southern
part of the property to 71. The property now
totals approximately 6000 acres which is probably going to be subdivided
into 100 to 500 acre parcels. The plans also include
a 6000 ft. runway to accommodate private jets. Hmm,
great place for sheiks.
WITH JIMMY DALE GILMORE - BENEFIT FOR LICK CREEK
March 25th, the folks at La Tierra de los Pedernales on Hamilton
Pool Road hosted a concert and picnic to benefit our downstream
neighbors, the Guardians of Lick Creek (a 501c3, tax deductible
organization). The Guardians have been working tirelessly to
try to protect a formerly pristine creek which has been damaged
by irresponsible development. It was a great success and lots
of fun. Thanks to all the musicians, volunteers and those who
came and partied with us. I've posted some pix at the Guarians
of Lick Creek website at http://www.lickcreek.org/benefitBBQ3-06.html.
Please check it out.
HWY. 71 WEST GETS INCREASED SHERIFF PRESENCE IN FEBRUARY
in February, the Travis County Sheriff's Department has authorized
a 5 unit "task force" to concentrate on traffic enforcement along
71 between the Pedernales River and Hamilton Pool Road. Aggressive
and careless driving on that stretch of highway have made traveling
it a dangerous proposition. Hopefully, the increased surveillance
will encourage drivers to stick within the (quite sufficient)
65 mile per hour speed limit. Lick Creek resident Richard Scroggins
heard from one of the Sheriff's office supervisors, that areas
of particular concern include westbound traffic in the vicinity
of the Cedars and La Cabana as well as the section between Bee
Creek and Hamilton Pool Roads. Here's the original
Richard sent out.
TO THE EDITOR TOUCHES A NERVE IN BARRIENTOS' AIDE
I'm not political. So sue me. I tend to write letter to the editor
that shoot from the hip. This time, I seem to have really pissed
off Senator Barrientos, or at least Graham Keever, who works
for the Senator. To read the letter I sent to the Statesman (which
was published March 24th) as well as the response from Keever,
the way, that letter did not reflect my overall feeling about
was simply addressing one issue on which I thought he was wrong.
As one of the last of the liberal Texas legislators, the senator
has done some
to applaud him
and greeting of Cindy Sheehan when her bus arrived in Austin
on August 31st. I wish him well in his retirement.
IS ON ITS WAY - CONVENIENCE STORE INVADING AT HPR & HWY.
TO SEE THE LATEST MAP OF THE LCRA WATER LINE AND
got it, courtesy of the SOS Alliance, for your viewing displeasure.
Click here (if you dare).
THEY'RE OFF - HAMILTON POOL ROAD WATERLINE CONSTRUCTION BEGINS
the big money winner in this race is our neighbor, Ted Stewart,
whose Key Enterprises won the $1.4 million contract with the LCRA.
Now ol' Ted modestly refers to himself as just a guy who "digs
a living". Well, this one is one hell of a ditch and the
hell is ours to suffer. The pain will be especially intense for
Hamilton Pool Road residents (ironically, Ted included)
will soon suffer the effects of newly-enabled (by the pipeline)
dense development and all that comes with it. Get ready for some
creek-destruction and other environmental catastrophes, folks.
But more than anything, get ready for some traffic. Think those
line-ups of pickups and SUVs winding around the curves are bad
The LCRA's spin on the contract (along with other news
from their point of view) can be read in their water newsletter.
COURT LETS THE HILL COUNTRY DOWN AGAIN
the exception of Ron Davis, the Travis County Commissioners'
Court is a bunch of developer suck-ups (or spineless wimps at
best), who declined to approve a first attempt at water quality
protection for the
The proposed "Interim
Rules" were a rather mild bit of protection
but would have been better than nothing (which is what we have
now). Though three of the Commissioners (Davis, Gomez & Sonleitener)
had expressed their support for the regulations, at their March
15th meeting, only Davis stood by his word and is to be congratulated
The others rolled over after bullying from greedy developers
who want to retain their full power to pollute and who threatened
"takings" lawsuits and legislative reprisal (and who
knows what else in the back room). For commentary on the situation,
out what Hill Country Alliance
the HCA website.
WAIT, THERE'S MORE -
NEGOTIATING CONTRACT FOR SWEETWATER PHASE 2
Ha! Foulwater, Swillwater, or maybe Formerly Sweetwater? And
LCRA has pretended to be Lower Colorado River Authority for
way too long now. The name just doesn't say it. May I suggest
Let's Completely Ruin All, or Let's Create Residential Abominations
or perhaps Lay Concrete with Reckless Abandon... Despite constant
disingenuous proclamations of their water quality protection
superiority, their modus operandi seems to be build, build,
build and screw the environment. This Foulwater development
(3000 homes on 1/4 acre lots, perched on steep hillsides) is
just plain awful and old LCRA is making it all possible. Travis
County is far from innocent on this issue too. They're ready
to give a thumbs up to Phase 2. Read more in this
paper recently released by the Hill Country Alliance. Then
hit the keyboard (or get out the quill pen) and start writing.
To whom, you say? How about these
BOARD FEIGNS CONCERN THEN APPROVES SWEETWATER CONTRACT
their monthly meeting on February 16th, the many headed monster
that is the LCRA board reared its ugly head(s) again and, after
making some faint noises about environmental concerns, approved
yet another of their monstrous spawn. This one is as bad as they
come (or at least as bad as they have come so far). Contract
negotiations to provide water and wastewater services for the
nearly 3,000 house (on 1/4 acre lots) "Sweetwater" subdivision,
Hwy. 71 west of Bee Cave, have been given board approval. Here
is a report from Gene Lowenthal who
was at the meeting. The Austin American Statesman published an
article on the meeting the next day and, on February 22nd, they
published 2 letters from Hill Country residents, including one
from yours truly.
OUT THE JOE BEAL
WANTED POSTER ON THE JOE MUST GO SITE
is a work in progress. Please send me your suggestions for
additional copy to add to the site. Who's got dirt on Joe? Come
on, fess up. I know the guy's got skeletons. He led the charge
against SOS, for cryin' out loud.
HUBBY OF LEADING HPR SUBURBANIZOR IS KING MIDAS WANNABEE
you know that Rebecca Hudson, the former developer of Rocky Creek
Ranch (she has recently sold to another developer), our "leading
subdivision (468 houses jammed together on 1/5 to 1/4 acre lots)
who wants everything
in gold for Christmas?
Hudson, publisher of Brilliant Magazine (a slick rag aimed at
Texas' conspicuous consumption set) has revealed his consumerist
in the Dec./Jan.
issue of his magazine. In his self-proclaimed "shameless
wish list" he tells the world of his Midas aspirations.
first brags of his "20 black shirts and countless ebony sweaters"
9 black leather jackets. Then he lays out a wish list of replacement
items, all in some sort of gold, from sunglasses to a new BMW.
He even desires gold-leaf encrusted chocolates. I'm sure the
gold adds just the right amount of metallic taste to the candy
to make Phil feel very rich indeed.
Phil, I hope your dream comes true and you do turn into a King
Midas, changing everything you touch into gold. We hear rumors
that Phil and Rebecca are no longer together. It is sad when
marriages break up. We're sorry.
FIX WAS IN - LCRA
BOARD APPROVED PIPELINE
December 7, 2004 (Pearl Harbor Day), the LCRA Board of Directors
met at the Terrace Club just outside Dripping Springs.
There, despite a seemingly impossible-to-ignore amount of
intelligently presented opposition, they unanimously voted
to advance the suburbanization of Hamilton Pool Road. They
approved the extension of their Highway 71 water line out beyond
Crumley Ranch Road for the sole benefit of 3 developers. It
is a very sad day.
board had met in the morning, long before they received public
input, and, according to observers, had already decided our
fate. The public hearing, in other words, was a charade meant
to give the illusion of sensitivity to the will of the people.
(Check out my photo essay on that
meeting.) General Manager Joe Beal made repeated, persistent
arguments that the board
do and, in
the end, they all gladly did, even those board members for
whom we had some hope of sanity and potential resistance (see
the report on
the September 15th board meeting for more on that).
event did get considerable press coverage (not that it did
us any good). Here's streaming video of the KXAN
TV news story featuring a fiery Gene Lowenthal.
I also made it onto the 10:00 KVUE
news that night. Here
are Kevin Carmody's articles in the Austin American Statesman,
from 12/7/04 (the
day of the meeting) and 12/8/04
(the post mortem). In that December 8th article, fans will
find a photo of yours truly giving testimony to the tune of
And here is the full
page ad taken out in the Sunday
paper, 12/5/04, by Mike and Pam Reece on behalf of the Hill
CRITIQUES HPR WATER CONTRACT
favorite engineer, David Venhuizen (known to many as "Waterguy")
has written an in-depth critique of the LCRA's HPR water line
contract. The contract appears to be totally ineffectual when
it comes to holding developers accountable and protecting the
environment. Read David's
critique and you'll see what I mean.
UP FOR YOUR VIEWING FRUSTRATION
Hill Country Alliance staged a demonstration at LCRA headquarters
and then December 3rd, they held a press conference. Here
are some demonstration
pictures, and some press
conference pictures. KXAN TV did a decent story.
I've got it here as a "Real" format streaming
I'm told it can also be viewed on KXAN
TO THE CONTRARY - THE EVIDENCE IGNORED BY THE BOARD
to see some examples of the hundreds of letters that
folks have sent to the LCRA board expressing their opposition
to the water line? Here are a few:
Henry clearly spells
out how the Hamilton Pool Road water line and the
development it will bring would be detrimental
to the health of Barton Springs. then there's one from Gene
Lowenthal of the HPRSCC, Sierra Club's Donna
Tiemann, SOS's Colin Clark, Senator
Barrientos and one
that I sent to Senator Barrientos (with variations
to LCRA board members).
addition, Christy Muse of the Hill Country Alliance put
together a good
list of talking points that.
Download it here.
you are outraged and want to express yourself in writing. Here
is a list
of Board members and their addresses.
POOL ROAD IN THE PAPERS
the top of the front page of theTuesday, November 30th Austin
American Statesman, the late (and sorely missed) Kevin Carmody
wrote a terrific article, linking pollution of Hamilton Pool
did a pretty good job of including mention of the water line
and its potential effects. And there are a couple of quotes
from our buddy Smitty and yours truly as well. If you don't
get the paper you can check it out on-line,
or download this PDF of
cover story of the 12/2/04
Austin Chronicle provided a detailed analysis
of the situation out here. If only the LCRA board members had
read all this stuff and taken their responsibilities to the
PIPELINE UP TO CRUMLEY RANCH ROAD IS SWEETHEART
DEAL FOR REBECCA HUDSON.
COUNTRY ALLIANCE MISSION TO SAVE THE HILL COUNTRY
new organization has been formed to work toward
preserving the rural nature of the Texas Hill Country,
quality and supply and keeping a check on urban sprawl.
Established as a coalition of existing groups and individuals
who are also working
on their own local issues, the Hill
Country Alliance had its first organizational meeting
4th at the Bee Creek home of Christy Muse. For
info on meetings and actions, check out the Alliance page.
The 3rd meeting was held October 14th,
at Buster's Barbeque on 620 just north of 71. The
4th meeting was also held at Buster's on October 28th
and the 5th at Christy's house on November 14th. The
5th meeting was November 30th at Bert & Ernie's,
the 6th was December 13th at Ira Yates'
place. The 7th meeting was January 18th. At this meeting
Christy announced that she had secured sufficient donations
to fund her
position as Executive Director for at least 6 months.
The establishment of non-profit status for the organization
has also begun. The next meeting was March
7th at Star Hill Ranch, where all future meetings will
be held. The next meeting will be announced here. The
Alliance has its own website at www.hillcountryalliance.org.
Please check it out. You can also download the Coalition's
COURT APPROVED PHASE 1 OF SWEETWATER
Tuesday, June 29th, The Travis County Commissioners'
Court voted to approve phase one - the first 549
lots of Bill Gunn's outrageous and totally inappropriate
Sweetwater (formerly Lazy 9) development. If you
thought Hudson and Formby's plans are problematic,
you're gonna get apoplectic over this one - 1,893
housing units plus schools and commercial development
on 2,500 acres between Highway 71 and Hamilton
Pool Road - a small city (look at the plat).
S.O.S. estimates that this development could add
18,000 car trips daily to the already challenged
Hwy. 71. Read all about it on the Lazy
9 Meeting page.
PLANNING HAS PRODUCED A PLAN
email dialogue among "stakeholder" participants
was hot and heavy, with lots of good ideas (or
accurately, ideals) being excitedly passed back
and forth and elaborated upon. Some of the substance
has actually made it into the final draft of the
400+ page plan, which can be viewed at www.waterqualityplan.org.
If any of these ideals
become enforced by governmental authorities, I
extremely (but pleasantly) surprised.
If you'd like to read my somewhat cynical reports
on the first two organizing meetings, they are still
1 & Meeting
2. And yes, I'm still cynical about the outcome
of this hard-working group. While I would love to
see the plan adopted by all in the region, I fear
it will all end up an exercise in futility. Of course,
if the Texas legislature has its way, impervious
cover and other land-use restrictions will cause
for the municipalities that adopt them because the
once-defeated "takings" legislation will
surely rear its ugly head again some day at the lege.
are some of the sights that Annie and I see
every day during our walk along Hamilton Pool
Road. Some other appliances have recently been
picked up by the County but they somehow managed
to leave all this and more.
illegal dump is a bummer. It is in the wooded area
by the 180 degree switchback where the road goes
down to the Pedernales River below Norsworthy Ranch.
What can be done about these jerks who see a beautiful
countryside and think "Hmmm, good place to
dump my major appliances."?
PARADISE, LOCAL & NATIONAL POLITICS NEED OUR ATTENTION
Our (District 47) Texas State Representative Terry Keel is retiring
from the job to run for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. No great
loss in the legislature, from this observer's point of view.
for the seat on the Democratic ticket will be Jason Earle,
son of local (and national) hero Ronnie Earle. The other
side has not fielded a strong candidate so Jason has a good
shot at winning. I believe he deserves of our support.
(Oh where to begin?) Practically the entire political population of
Washington DC is sorely in need of replacement. Bouncing everyone
out of the criminal Whitehouse would be a good start. The good
news is they are starting to suffer a meltdown from their own
hubris. The bad news is they always seem to get out from under
their own shitstorms. Impeachment proceedings, with any other
Senate in any other time, would be a given. About that, we shall
the national desire-fire to get the hell out of Iraq now
has finally ignited. One of the sparks was Cindy Sheehan.
Her Crawford campout was brilliant, if accidental, political
theater. Annie and I spent a day up there and it was inspirational.
I shot lots of video there and will post links to the clips
as soon as they are edited.
it on the road, in the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour was the
next clever move for Cindy and the gang. Their first stop
was right here in peace-friendly Austin, Texas, where a march
and rousing rally were held. Again, I was there with my video
camera. But this time, I actually completed an edit of the
proceedings. The total show runs 16:50 and can be found as
a RealVideo file at http://www.aimproductions.com/realaudio/CindyRalliesAustinFullHB.ram.
I have also broken it down into 3 shorter pieces for ease
of access. The segments are broken down as follows:
The bus arrives, the march, and the first part of the rally
at City Hall with Lisa Rogers (singing "Our Kids Won't
Go"), Jim Hightower, Eliza Gilgyson (singing "Man
of God") and Iraq Veterans for Peace member (and Camp
Casey bugler) Jeff Keys. Its url is http://www.aimproductions.com/realaudio/CindyRalliesAustinPt1hb.ram.
This part covers the middle of the rally with 2 Gold Star
Families for Peace members, Ann Wright, slam poet Genevieve
Van Cleave (who got married at Camp Casey) & David Rovics
(singing "Who Would Jesus Bomb"). You'll find it
The last part is Cindy Sheehan's speech and a rousing version
of John Lennon's "Imagine" sung by Amy Cook and
the entire crowd. The url for that piece is http://
When the busses arrived in Washington for the massive demonstration
on September 24th, we were there too. The march was great - 250,000
(or more) people of all ages and ethnicities. I was especially encouraged
to see so many young folks marching shoulder to shoulder with us geriatric
march veterans. As one might expect, I shot lottsa videotape. It is
on-line as RealVideo at: Then we went to Washington. Shot video again.
A 20 minute edit is at:
It is also broken down into 3 shorter segments at:
http://www.neighborsinparadise.org/video/WashingtonMarch9-24-05_pt2.ram and http://www.neighborsinparadise.org/video/WashingtonMarch9-24-05_pt3.ram
shot some stills and I have put a little web page of them
up. Please have a look at: http://www.neighborsinparadise.org/WashingtonPeaceMarch9-05
DEVELOPMENT REJECTED BY COMMISSIONERS AGAIN
After several postponements, the Travis County Commissioners again
considered preliminary approval of the horrendous "Sweetwater" development
which would include over 1,800 homes on lots (as small as 1/6 acre
each) that will drain into Bee Creek and spray their effluent across
about 300 acres in the Barton Creek watershed. Wisely, the Commissioners
again refused to approve the plan.
Our own Commissioner Daugherty was the lone voice in favor
of the Hill Country-destroying proposal. The guy has never
met a chunk of concrete he didn't like.
more information, Christy Muse of the Hill Country Alliance
sent out this announcement before
the last meeting. Sweetwater will surely rear its ugly head
again so stay tuned for more.
COUNTRY ALLIANCE TO HOLD DARK SKIES WORKSHOP THURSDAY
March 23rd, the Hill Country Alliance will be hosting a Dark
Skies Workshop at the Star Hill Ranch. Here's the flyer.
BAAAACK - FOULWATER DEVELOPMENT COMES BEFORE COMMISSIONERS
several postponements, the Travis County Commissioners will
again consider preliminary approval of the biggest threat
to our Hill Country to come along yet. If approved, this
phase of the "Sweetwater" development will include
over 1,800 homes on lots (as small as 1/6 acre each) that
will drain into Bee Creek and spray their effluent across
about 300 acres in the Barton Creek watershed. This monstrosity
will be situated along Highway 71 West but will even be visible
from places along Hamilton Pool Road.
Commissioners' meeting will be this Tuesday, March 14th,
at 10:00pm. Please try to attend and make your voice heard.
Please also write the Commissioners and tell them what you
think. Their email addresses are: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
more information, Christy Muse of the Hill Country Alliance
sent out this announcement,
Stay tuned for more.
DEVELOPMENT DENIED PRELIMINARY APPROVAL
7th the Travis County Commissioners denied preliminary approval
of the biggest threat to our Hill Country to come along yet.
On January 31, the Commissioners also debated approval of
this huge, neighborhood-killing, environmental nightmare,
ironically called "Sweetwater". After long discussion,
the issue was postponed a week and was taken up again on
the 7th. Projected ultimate buildout includes almost 3,000
homes on quarter acre lots that will drain into Bee Creek
and spray their effluent across about 300 acres in the Barton
Creek watershed. This monstrosity will be situated along
Highway 71 West but will even be visible from places along
Hamilton Pool Road. For more information, Christy Muse of
the Hill Country Alliance sent out this announcement,
this update and
Here's her report from
the meeting. Stay tuned for more.
COUNTRY ALLIANCE SPONSORS CANDIDATE DEBATE FEBRUARY 16th
with several Oak Hill organizations, the HCA will be staging
a debate between candidates for the Texas House of Representatives,
District 47 (which includes Lakeway and most of Western Travis
County.Here's the official
LOCAL TREASURE WESTCAVE PRESERVE
and spiders and owls, the creatures of Halloween Night, are
the focus of the "Spook-tacular Creatures" program
at Westcave Preserve. It's Sunday, October 23, 2005, 3-6pm.
For info, here's the flyer,
and the press
you haven't had the standard Westcave tour, you are missing
something wonderful. They're open to the public on weekends.
You might want to take a look at the Preserve's website.
Check it out at www.westcave.org.
MEETING WAS FIRST LOOK AT NASTY PLAN FOR HILL COUNTRY
September 15th, LCRA staff rolled out preliminary plans for
their expansion into western Travis County and northern Hays
County. LCRA will presumably trot these plans out to the
public in mid-October so a few of we HP Roaders took this
opportunity to get an early look. What we saw was outrageously
alarming and we've definitely got our work cut out for us.
Please read the report on the
meeting then TAKE ACTION.
you will see in the report,
some of the board members were not marching in perfect lockstep
with Manager, Joe Beal. These dissenting board members might
be able to hold back the tide if they perceive that they
have broad popular support to do so. So please write letters
to all of them and let them know what you think. If they
have expressed reservations about rampant development in
environmentally sensitive areas, give them support for that
point of view. They are the sane ones and need to be applauded.
Here are the board member mailing
the same day the western Travis County Advisory Panel, convened
by Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, met that afternoon. Two
of our stalwart activists, Gene Lowenthal and Christy Muse
attended both meetings (whew!). Christy posted this brief
report on the Advisory
NEWS (FOR A CHANGE) - REIMERS RANCH IS NOW A COUNTY PARK
just drove past what used to be the entrance to Milton Reimers'
fishing, climbing and cycling ranch and saw a
shiny new sign going up saying "Milton Reimers Ranch Park".
Yay! Travis County is to be commended for pulling off this
fabulous land acquisition. Travis County voters are to be commended
their vision in approving the bond issue that is paying for
the acquisition. And that gorgeous place will now be preserved
opened as a county park on December 1st and, as a special introductory
offer, will be free of charge for public use until January
will commence. For more info about the park, check
page on the Travis County website.
LITTLE PIGGY WENT MISSING
Thanksgiving day, during our daily walk, Annie and I found
this small feral hog reduced to roadkill along Hamilton Pool
of the river. Or maybe it was shot (there did appear to
be a hole in the side of its head). Anyway, the buzzards
had already quickly deflated the beast to an empty shell.
Next day - not a trace. Somebody done pilfered the pig. What
could they have possibly wanted this thing for? Hog sweet-breads
for Thanksgiving dinner? Yum! I guess it would make a scary
Halloween mask if the wearer could get
THREW A HUGE BLOCK PARTY
Sunday, October 10th, the Hamilton Pool Road Scenic Corridor
Coalition put on a great party for the neighborhood. It was
held at the Star
Hill Ranch, a terrific party facility right here on Hamilton
Pool Road. Depending on whom you ask, there were anywhere
from 150-200 attendees. Terry Henry's band provided some
great music and the gang from Bert & Ernie's supplied
the food. Smitty brought the beer left over from the big
Public Citizen anniversary party (which was a wonderful love
fest and tribute to our own Smitty). HPRSCC members worked
the petition table and got over 100 signatures. They also
got people to write scads of postcards to various politicians.
Check out Nell Penridge's and Damian Priour's party
ANGRY ENOUGH TO WRITE YET? THIS JUST IN (2-8-05)
LCRA proclaim innocence. Here are 2 documents: A
letter from Joe
Beal to the board, telling them about the new Sweetwater
deal and the public protests and letters they are likely
to receive, and an internal, staff
email thread talking about the LCRA being the best option
for Sweetwater, rather than their competition (a private
PLANNING GROUP BACK IN ACTION
baaaack! The intrepid group of Hamilton Pool Road Warriors
is meeting again. I only found out about the February 9th
meeting on the day it was occurring so I had made other plans
and couldn't attend. Nevertheless, here's a report from
Damian Priour on what went on. If they see fit to inform
me of other meetings, I'll pass the info along here.
THE HEART OF TEXAS CONFERENCE - MARCH 4-6, SAN ANTONIO
3 day conference for Hill Country activists. Get involved,
get active, get more
MEETING ON GROWTH ISSUES FEBRUARY 10
PLEASE ATTEND AND GIVE YOUR SUGGESTIONS
County has established an Advisory Panel to develop recommendations
and a conceptual growth plan for the southwest portion of
Travis County. The Advisory Panel will hold a Public Meeting
to take public input on growth related issues for the unincorporated
portion of Travis County west of the Village of Bee Cave
and south of the Colorado River (Lake Austin). The meeting
will be held at the Bee Cave Elementary School, 6-8:00pm. More
FOR A CLEAN TEXAS PRESS CONFERENCE JANUARY 18
attend the press conference Tuesday, January 18th, 9:00am
at the Texas State Capitol, Speaker's Committee Room (2nd
floor, outside House Gallery). ACT will be presenting the
organization's top legislative priorities to clean up Texas
and improve public health. More
PLANNING MEETINGS MAY HAVE RESUMED AT WESTCAVE PRESERVE
LCRA is funding a meeting facilitator to coordinate a local
planning process specific to the Hamilton Pool Road corridor.
Here is the invitation to
the first, July 27th meeting that was sent out to potential
participants. After that initial meeting, facilitator Juli
Fellows distributed these
materials regarding the planning process. The "1st
Core Group meeting" was held Thursday, September 2nd
at Westcave Preserve. To find out more about this meeting,
as well as most of the other meetings held from September
through December 1st, check out the Local
Planning page. There, you will also find a brief report
by Damian Priour on the renewed group's 12th meeting held
on February 9th. Watch this space for more details as they
come in. My information here will be limited since I am no
longer being kept apprised of what goes on at those meetings,
or even when they are to be held (could it have anything
to do with my cynicism about the process and effectiveness?)
So find out for yourself at their website, which can be found
website greeting letter:
of the Hamilton Pool Road corridor have only recently become aware
of plans that were developed, in the dark, by the LCRA and a single
landowner who wants to develop her property into suburban-sized (quarter
acre) residential lots. The plan is to install a 12" water line
with the capacity to provide water for many more homes than the 468
in that single subdivision. Many neighbors have gotten up in arms
about this and their light is now illuminating the dastardly deed
quite brightly. Organization has taken place in the form of the Hamilton
Pool Road Scenic Corridor Coalition which has been doing a great
job of getting the word out and may be contacted for further information
And the HPRSCC has a website. It can be found at www.hprscc.org.
The ever-valiant SOS (Save Our Springs) Alliance has a substantial
history of battling environmentally destructive projects such as
this one and they are on the case. They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or visit their website at www.sosalliance.org.
I hope this
website can be another avenue, a place for us to stay in touch and
find out what's happening in the struggle to keep a check on rampant
development. The title, Neighbors In Paradise, forms an acronym.
This stands for a desire to NIP suburban sprawl in the bud. Toward
that end, I will herein post materials, both informational and inspirational.
This can also be a space to address other issues relevant to the
area and to helping retain the wonderful quality of life we currently
will make this site a more valuable communications tool for our community.
Please email me your musings, ideas for organization, notices of
events (such as hearings), photos, cartoons, illustrations and anything
else you think our neighbors might like to see.
together, we may be able to hold back the tide. Having a website
to facilitate community connection certainly couldn't hurt... might
even help. Please contact Ric Sternberg, your humble webslave, at email@example.com.
I can even be phoned at 830-825-0133.
WATER LINE STILL THREATENS THE NEIGHBORHOOD
about your community, your road, your environment, your
peace and tranquility? LCRA and a few developers have
big plans for the destruction of all of them. A 16 inch
water line was proposed and almost railroaded through
with extremely limited public input or knowledge.
2 public hearings and a board meeting, the outcry was enough
to persuade the LCRA Board that it would be prudent to postpone
the project and give the regional planning process (already
underway) another 7 months (through December) before acting
on the pipeline project. This decision is a partial victory
for those likely to be most affected by the pipeline and
development it will bring. This victory can be partially
attributed to a group of neighbors who organized rapidly
to get the word out. The organization is the Hamilton Pool
Road Scenic Corridor Coalition and their website is at www.hprscc.org.
IN MIND THAT THE LCRA FULLY EXPECTS TO PROCEED WITH THE PROJECT
AFTER THE 7 MONTH WAIT SO THERE IS MUCH TO BE DONE. Here,
in PDF form, is the resolution passed
by the LCRA Board at their May 19th Board meeting.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS APPROVE HUDSON PRELIMINARY PLAT
many eloquent arguments against approval, on Tuesday, October
12, the Travis County Commissioners approved a preliminary
plat for 468 homes on the controversial Rocky Creek Ranch
subdivision. This monstrosity of a housing development, which
prompted the creation of this website in the first place,
is being foisted on our community by Rebecca Hudson, a person
who apparently does not care what her neighbors think of
her. In her testimony before the Commissioners' Court, Ms.
Hudson had the chutzpah to claim her right to destroy the
flavor and tranquility of the neighborhood based on her family
having owned the property for 30 years. This, she claimed,
was longer tenure than many of the people who were complaining
about her plans. As Sandy Wood pointed out at that same hearing,
the entire stretch of Hamilton Pool Road, including all the
individual homesteads and subdivisions between Highway 71
and the Pedernales River, currently contains about 700 homes.
Ms. Hudson's poorly conceived and almost universally unwanted
project will, in one fell swoop, increase that number by
BIG PUSH TO SIGN PETITIONS
is it, friends. The LCRA Board will be meeting to decide
the fate of Hamilton Pool Road on December 7th (today) and
we need your help to convince them to postpone action at
least until the various planning processes have had a chance
to work. To sign an on-line petition (and get everyone you
know to do it too), please go to the HPRSCC
MEETING TODAY, DECEMBER 7th (PEARL HARBOR DAY) - BE THERE!
afternoon, 2:00 PM Tuesday, December 7, 2004, there will
be a special meeting of the LCRA Board of Directors at the
Terrace Club, 2600 Highway 290 West (a few miles east of
Dripping Springs). The meeting will be devoted to the LCRA’s
water utility plan for Western Travis and Northern Hays counties.
THE HAMILTON POOL ROAD WATER LINE WILL BE THE MAIN TOPIC.
The Board will probably vote on it so we need your support.
Please make every effort to attend this meeting.
(HAMILTON POOL ROAD) PLANNING PLODS ON
the latest on the slogging "consensus" process
being used to try to achieve a representative vision for
our beloved Hamilton Pool Road corridor. You'll find it on
the Local Planning page.
Please take the time to read this stuff if you can. I think
it reveals how the planning process has been coopted by the
LCRA and their "facilitators". [See the box down
below that talks about local planning for more info.]
THE HAMILTON POOL ROAD SCENIC CORRIDOR COALITION PETITION
download it, print it out and sign it then get all your friends
and acquaintances to sign it too. After it is signed, send
it back to the address at the bottom. To download the petition,
please click here.
BIG PUSH TO SIGN PETITIONS
is it, friends. The LCRA Board will be meeting to decide
the fate of Hamilton Pool Road on December 7th and we need
your help to convince them to postpone action at least until
the various planning processes have had a chance to work.
To sign petition (and get everyone you know to do it too),
please download one here.
Then, as quickly as you can, mail it to Gene Lowenthal at
9600 Crumley Ranch Road, Austin 78738 (Disregard the Nov.
15th deadline mentioned at the bottom of the petition. That
is changed to the 11/30).
you'd like to write a letter, we've made it really easy for
you. Just address it "Dear LCRA Board Member",
write as much or as little as you'd like to say about the
proposed HPR water line. It would be great if you would include
something about postponing their decision until regional
and local plans are done. Then send it along with the petition
(or by itself) to Gene at the above address. He will make
15 copies and get them to all board members. As an alternative,
you can e-mail the board through Joe Beal firstname.lastname@example.org and
put at the top "Please forward to all board members".
June 1st, we found this brand new black fawn, sleeping
right near the house. Days later, we saw him prancing
about on spindly legs. Then a dog jumped off a pickup
truck bed and chased the little guy for some time.
After what seemed like an eternity, the dog's owner
captured him and declared that the fawn got away. We
have since seen two black juvenile deer playing in
the woods. Guess this one made it and had a sibling,
next Regional Water Quality Protection Plan Stakeholders
meeting will be held on November 17th, 6:00 P.M., at the
Oak Hill United Methodist Church, 7815 Hwy 290 West (across
from ACC Pinnacle campus). Here is the latest meeting
agenda sent out by Director Terry Tull. To see what the
management of the Regional Plan is presenting to the public,
check out their website at www.waterqualityplan.org.
DAY IN COURT - SOS VS. LAZY 9 MUD
November 18th, will be the final court day of the SOS Alliance
law suit challenging the Lazy 9 MUD (aka Sweetwater). This
is an important case, challenging the constitutionality of
this ill-conceived MUD. The developers say they expect the
MUD to contain 9,200 people by 2014. Current population -
can read the exact claims that SOS has against the MUD in
proceedings will be at the 250th District Court, Room 314
(next to the stairs) in the Travis County Court House. The
action should begin around 10:30am.
IS IMPORTANT THAT THE JUDGE SEES SOME FACES OF HILL COUNTRY
FOLKS WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY THIS SO PLEASE TRY TO BE THERE
TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.
Sunday, July 18th, MoveOn.org set up a bunch of house parties,
at which the Robert Greenwald documentary "Outfoxed" was
shown. We attended one at our neighbors Jueri and Mara's studio.
This is a very well made and revealing exposé about just
how "fair and balanced" Fox News' reporting is. You
can get your own DVD of the film by making a donation to alternet.org.
They have mounted a legal battle to get Fox to stop using the "fair
and balanced slogan and need all the help they can get. To donate
or find out more, click http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/19265/.
MoveOn has got an on-line petition about Fox's use of that big
lie slogan, which you can sign at http://www.moveon.org/fox/ Or,
right here you can even get your very own hard
copy of the petition. Let's get busy.
CREEK BENEFIT CONCERT WITH JIMMY DALE GILMORE HUGE SUCCESS
August 28th, there was a house concert with Jimmy Dale Gilmore,
Colin Gilmore, Jan and Jenny Evans and the Melancholy Ramblers
to benefit the Guardians
of Lick Creek. The concert was held at Susie Fowler's Shade
Tree Potter gallery overlooking the Pedernales River.
The artists volunteered their talents and the proceeds will
be used for the Lick Creek legal struggle. Those who attended
were treated to a great musical event in an intimate setting
while helping out a really good cause. Check out the pictures.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO VOTE ON ROCKY CREEK RANCH TUESDAY
October 12th, at 10:30 A.M., the Travis County Commissioners
will consider approval of Rebecca Hudson's Rocky Creek Ranch
subdivision. It is imperative that we get as many people
to that hearing as possible to make their voices of opposition
heard.Even if you don't want to speak, please go and sign
up signifying your opposition to this outrageous and potentially
precedent-setting high-density (60-80' lot frontages) development.
hearing will be held at the Travis County Administration
Building, 314 W. 11th St., first floor. Get there early because
parking in the area is difficult and seating is limited.
If you do intend to speak, you might want to take a look
at the talking points offered in this flyer.
POOL ROAD NEIGHBORHOOD PARTY SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10th
you live in the Hamilton Pool Road corridor or are interested
in Hamilton Pool Road issues you are invited to our neighborhood
party. The festivities, sponsored by the Hamilton Pool Road
Scenic Corridor Coalition, will be Sunday, October 10th,
2:00-5:00 P.M. at the Star Hill Ranch, 15000 Hamilton Pool
Road. Join us for food, drinks, activities, exhibits and
good conversation. Admission is free and children are welcome
more information, call 512-263-1721 or email HPRslowdown@yahoo.com.
See you there.
Water Quality Protection Planning
second Stakeholder Committee Organizational Meeting
of the Regional Water Quality
Protection Plan for the Barton Springs-Edwards
Aquifer Contributing Zone was held on Wednesday,
June 30th. This report
on Stakeholder meeting 2 will give you the details.
Or, go to the Stakeholder
Meeting 1 page, where you will find an article
about the first Stakeholders' meeting.
to complaints about the issue of balance on the
Stakeholder Committee, several of the people elected
by their interest groups to represent them have
been replaced. Apparently, one of the gripes was
that there are too many people from Hamilton Pool
Road on the Committee. There were also complaints
that from the "landowners" interest group,
there were no landowners who were interested in
developing their land. Hmmm, we wonder who has
been complaining. I wrote to Terry Tull, asking
who had the gripes. In response, I received a pleasant
phone call and had a good conversation with him
but later got an email telling me he would not
be able to answer my question. The revised list
of Stakeholder Committee members is available as
a Microsoft Word document here.
3rd Stakeholder Committee meeting was held on Wednesday,
June 21, at the ACC Pinnacle Campus. The major topic
of discussion there was the bylaws for the committee
to follow. The concept of concensus turned into a bone
of contention, with some members (including our own
Karen Hadden and Smitty) wanting a majority rule vote
to decide deadlocked issues. In the end, it was agreed
to stick with the provision proposed by the consultants
in the draft bylaws - to have the director determine
if a concensus could not be reached and then call for
a vote to be decided by a 75% majority. Karen & Smitty
eventually yielded in the interest of concensus. Another
important discussion centered on accelerating the planning
process to produce a plan before the LCRA's proposed
waterline construction which is slated to begin in
December, 2004. A Schedule Review Subcommittee was
established to study the issue and report back to the
next full meeting.
next (5th) Stakeholder Committee meeting is scheduled
for September 15th at 6:00 PM. See the announcement
at the top of this page.
neighbor Tom "Smitty" Smith met with Joe
Beal of the LCRA on June 14th. Check out his report
on Smitty's Page.
stuff: A position
paper from the HPRSCC as well as a flyer that
the Coalition has put out are available as PDF files. Just
click and ye shall receive.
may not be directly related to neighborhood issues but
it is important nevertheless. Are you registered to vote?
If not, it's easy to get the proper application at this
website. If you don't vote, don't complain. Here's the
PRESERVE PIONEER DAY
November 20th, Westcave Preserve gives you the opportunity
to see how central Texas settlers lived in the late
19th century. Experts will demonstrate pioneer skills
and pioneer craft activities will be available for
children. Tours of the preserve will also be offered
throughout the day. Pioneer Day activities will be
11:00am to 3:00pm and the fee will be $5 for adults
and $2 for children. For more info, check out the press
release or call 830-825-3442.