County And Developer Broker Deal To Widen FM 1460

Posted in Commentary, Commissioners Court, Road Issues, Transportation, Williamson County at 11:05 pm by wcnews

KXAN has the story but to truly appreciate it watch the video. The short written story, Road improvements for medical school, just doesn’t do it justice. The video spells it out:

Gary Newman of the developer The Waterstone Development Group (WDG), says the new road will “help the development quite a bit”. The WDG’s Avery Centre development will be the development getting help (see site plan) from the improved road. The Williamson County Commissioners Court today, (See agenda Items 26 & 27), approved a Road district bond election to pay for the project. While WDG is fronting the $90 million to build the section of the road that will benefit the development most. The WDG will eventually be reimbursed, with interest, for financing the project that improves the value of their land.

Who is going to pay back the note? Well that’s a good story. No one outside the district, which is currently undeveloped, will be paying the “new” taxes - except those who buy stuff at the future commercial development. Once developed there will be 4600 rental and single family units, as well as over 180 acres of commercial development. The report says the “new” tax will be about $600 a year on a $200,00 home, or $50 more on the monthly mortgage payment. Which means the suckers future home owners, renters, and buyers will be paying for this road once the development is done. As Newman says, “Obviously it [the new road] creates a real estate market for us”. Obviously.

But here’s the kicker. Approval of the road bond will come in this November’s election. Only those living in the current Road District will be able to vote and as the KXAN report stated there is only one resident in that district. It’ll be interesting to see how that person votes. Our own “Swing Vote” here in Williamson County.


  1. wilcowatcher said,

    August 20, 2008 at 8:51 am

    So…. gerrymandering a district so that it includes only one voter. Well, I guess s/he can write his/her own ticket on being wined and dined… and essentially setting the value of his/her property.

    So, Ron Morrison says, “It demonstrates we can make something happen when it needs to happen.” So, Ron, how’s that speedy replacement of the grotesquely antiquated and dangerous Computer Aided Dispatch system coming along? Find some good extraordinarily and uniquely qualified project management candidates out there on Craigslist?

    Oh…. you mean you can make something happen when there’s something in it for you? Gosh, for a second, I thought you meant something that would benefit or protect the citizens. Silly me.

  2. FedUp said,

    August 20, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Honestly, I didn’t think it could get any more insulting to the voters of Williamson County. But, once again, WCCC just keeps keeping on.

    I wonder why Kxan did a story on this. Williamson County is in a very dangerous situation with the lack of staff at the Sheriff’s Office and Jail. Mental Health Officers are being used to work patrol and civilian and medical staff are working the booking desk in the jail. As wilcowatcher pointed out, the CAD sytem is “grotesquely antiguated and dangerous.”
    And they are using Graigslist to find someone to manage that project. Just like the qualifications for working at the Sheriff’s dept. have dropped so low, that it won’t be long before they start pulling people out of their jail cells to work for them.

    But hey, the Royal Court knows what is best for ALL of us. Even by kicking good qualified people out because these people were trying to protect the citizens.

  3. FedUp said,

    August 20, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Sorry for my rant. I got off the subject about the bond election. It boils down to this county is just one big mess after another.

    Can someone tell me why that district, or that one person, gets to vote on a bond package and other districts don’t get to vote for a super highway coming through theirs? Why does the county get to use left over bond package money on a PR firm instead of using it to fix that road?


  4. wcnews said,

    August 20, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Yes it’s truly baffling the speed that Morrison can work with to help out a developer. But when it comes to the citizens of Hutto he just can’t find the time. At least now we know what he’s been concentrating on. A “sweetheart deal” for a developer.

    And the WCCC only wants to have a vote when they know, or can control, the outcome. That’s why there will be no referendum on the “Nutty Road to Nowhere” in Liberty Hill.

  5. Nick Page said,

    August 21, 2008 at 12:17 am

    I used to feel a little left out of the voting process because I have never voted a streight thicket and never will. If I don’t know who the players are beyond the 3′ x 5′ yard signs , I just leave it blank on the ballot for the more informed among us to decide.

    Seemed like a reasonable strategy until now. The Streight Ticket Voting ( Dems or Reps ), is a dumb mindless act of obediance that has put us in this mess.

    Will a streight Democratic ticket solve all our problems , or just move them around and redirect our focus?

    Roads happen because people happen.
    Landfills happen because people’s trash happens.
    Parks happen because people’s kids happen.
    It’s not complicated.

    If I bought a house within 5 miles of hutto during the cheap housing boom, I would have noticed the landfill. Why is this a problem for people who just moved in around it? Did they miss it just like the good folks around Robert Muelluer Airport missed it ? Where would they have it go ?

    I moved 3 miles north of 29 in Liberty Hill , only to see that the road is coming to me maybe.Upgrading existing roads to a higher safety standard is a good idea , before new trails are blazed.

    We all want reasonable improvements for safety and a sence of place. But why is every thing on this blog demonizing the Republicans and glorifying the Democrates ? Aren’t they all a bunch of clowns just getting out of different Volkswagens?

  6. wilcowatcher said,

    August 21, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Nick, I hate to say it, but I think you’re being naive here.

    Roads need to be built to accomodate growth, absolutely. They can be built sensibly. They do not need to be toll roads, though toll roads here and there may have their place. Roads don’t need to be built where common sense and *objective* professional studies prove that growth projections don’t demand them. Plenty of existing roads desperately need fixing. Roads that are so patently good for us don’t need to have a $1M PR firm engaged to convince us of why they’re so good for us. Especially $1M PR firms that have already been demonstrated to be walking on the shady side, awarded contracts by CTRMA and the County without competition (Mike Weaver - since you handpicked Martin and Salinas with NO competition at CTRMA, don’t you dare try to say that a simple RFQ (Request for Qualifications) was competition. Judge Gattis, who claims to be so interested in proper bidding etc., just went along with your program, decrying his own claims of objectivity.)

    Landfills are needed. So are reasonable contracts to protect the interests of the citizens the landfills should be serving. Here, landfills are serving landfill owners, and tangentially, county commissioners.

    Parks need to be built. Kids (and grownups) like parks. Usually, that means the parks are built where the people are, or where they’re going to be. Instead, in Wilco, parks mysteriiously appear in more distant areas, in land not suited for suburban or wilderness recreational experiences, but rather where good ol’ boy developers who need bailing out by their personal good ol’ boy Commissioners, own land they’re willing to sell because their development plans fell through.

    Dig a little bit. For God’s sake, don’t rely on the Statesman for news or facts. Do research.

    I don’t mean to speak for the gent running this blog, but I daresay this blog only “goes after” Republicans because that’s all we’ve had a Wilco for so many years. He certainly doesn’t report on ALL their incompetence and corruption, I imagine he has to work and sleep sometimes. He can’t “pick on” any local elected Democrats; there haven’t been any.

    Wilco has a Republican blogger, too. He’s nasty, personal, and seems to avoid facts. I’m a Republican, but embarassed to be one here. Had I lived in Precinct 1, I would’ve voted for Birkman’s Republican opponent. Maybe he wouldn’t be any better, but since I know Birkman is incompetent and corrupt, I’m willing - anxious - to give someone else a chance. Maybe he’d have been, too, but we need change.

    I’ve met and talked with Jaime Lynn, with Greg Windham, and they seem straight shooters. I hope they are. If they’re not, I’ll call it as I see it. But they seem to be, and I want them to have a chance. They’re both calling the current corrupt and inept actions of the Court as they see them, accurately and passionately. Seems a good thing to me.

    There are plenty of roads being built, parks being planned, that don’t get blasted here. That’s because those make sense. Only the ones where ineptitude or corruption is evident get cited here.

    Just look at this one. Big bucks to expand 1460 (which is and has been A.W. Grimes Blvd. for a year or so), while one of its primary cross streets, Old Settlers, is a joke. Round Rock has spent two years expanding that road from two lanes to four with a divider from Red Bud at its easterly terminus west almost to 1460/A.W. Grimes. That project stopped maybe a quarter mile shy of 1460, because that stretch is in the County. That stretch is well known for its deep potholes, uneven surface, and tearing your car up as you drive over it. But the County can’t be bothered to upgrade it. Round Rock even recently did some hot patching on the County’s portion of the road, probably because of all the complaints they get from drivers who don’t realize that short stretch of roadway isn’t in Round Rock. But in any event, it is increasingly and starkly obvious that Round Rock has done a fine job improving that increasingly busy road, while the county ignores it. Too short for a toll road, I guess.

    Something’s gotta give. We need change, and we need watchdogs - party affiliation be damned - to do the digging, and report the truth. We also need a venue to express our collective and invidual frustrations - the First Amendment has been effectively suspended in Commissioners’ Court (for those lucky people who can even attend Court during business hours when most of us are working) - we need somewhere to speak out, and hopefully when people read things here (or at the Republican blog), it’ll at least inspire the reader to do their own research and reach their own conclusions. There is no other source, certainly not the “official” media, to find out what’s going on.

  7. FedUp said,

    August 21, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I think it’s safe to say on behalf fo ALL of us that have stood up to fight county corruption on all levels and who have paid the price for it, are very thankful to have a this website report the full truth.

    Just as you have done Mr. Page, it’s about finding out all of the truth, not just what some want us to hear. We are all seeking the truth and learning as much as we can.

    I’m an independent voter and I’m color blind!

  8. wcnews said,

    August 21, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I would like to start out by saying thanks for reading Eye On Williamson (EOW) and appreciate even more your commenting. One of the main reasons EOW was created was to have this discussion which is currently taking place. Though we are unapologetically partisan we have no problem debating the issues with anyone regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum.

    While EOW doesn’t advocate straight ticket voting, and agrees mostly with your mindless act of obedience statement, straight ticket voting is part of the process. I myself always vote every race on the ballot individually, weigh each candidate by many, many factors, and vote for who I believe is the better choice. I do believe to bring about change, and bring about better county government, we need a two party system again in Williamson County. Not to mention that in this election cycle all the Democrats on the ballot are the best choice.

    Yes roads, landfills, and parks must be built and there’s nothing complicated about realizing that. But like anything the “devils in the details”. As you know, early on those in the Northern path of the county’s “bold” plan for the SH 29 corridor had an initial reaction to just “send it South”. Later realizing that this is not just about North and South Liberty Hill, but an issue that effects the whole county, those informed on the issue have come to understand it’s about more than that. How we spend our road bond money, where it’s needed now, is more important than what our tone deaf commissioners and those who fund their campaigns want.

    Similarly to look at the landfill as only a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issue coming from a bunch of ignorant home buyers is not coming at this from an informed position. Those who take issue with the current state of the landfill do not want the landfill to move or close. They, living closest, would like to have some input into the future direction of the landfill. It would seem logical that the county would want to include those that live closest to the landfill in the process. There are many problems with the landfill - I won’t list all of them here - but the worst of which aren’t the county currently has no power over what happens at the landfill, the current contract was never put out for competitive bid, the county won’t bid the future contract, and we, the taxpayers, are receiving a pittance compared to what other cities and counties receive in their similar landfill contracts.

    If you , as you say, “leave it blank..for the more informed among us to decide”, your statements on the landfill show that you need to become more informed about it, and you may want to rethink those criticisms. I don’t say that to be mean, but just to show that most issues are more than what they seem, or what’s reported in the traditional media, once they are broken open. Most issues aren’t black and white, there’s a considerable amount of grey in them.

    As far as your question as to, “..why is every thing on this blog demonizing the Republicans and glorifying the Democrats?”, it’s not complicated. EOW was created to fill a huge whole in Williamson County. The traditional media in the county is extremely deferential toward the GOP. EOW was created to bring some balance and report on the other side. Before it came along there was no critical reporting of the deeds and misdeeds of our one-party county government. For the better part of the last 15 or so years there has been little critical reporting of the all GOP government in Williamson County. Most reporting has been a cross between deference and cheerleading. Outside of the Austin Chronicle it was non-existent. It’s beginning to change and we believe EOW had something to do with that.

    Not to dig too deep into the history of this blog, and blogging in general, but EOW is doing what it was created to do. It was not created to be non-partisan, but just the opposite, to take the other side that was being ignored, by the traditional media. More like the pamphlets which were prevalent in the founding days or our republic. While we report on the facts, it is our aim to show how we believe that having a two-party system again would bring a more democratic government to the county, which would be an improvement over what we currently have.

    While many believe, as you do, that all politicians are, “..a bunch of clowns just getting out of different Volkswagens”, I don’t. There’s a reason why many politicians want citizens to believe that, it’s because then, frustrated, many won’t vote at all, believing change is impossible and that their vote doesn’t matter, no matter who they vote for. That’s is contrary to my belief and only foments more frustration. If we sit on the sidelines then more of the same is not only what we should expect, but what we deserve.

    Which takes us full circle to your first statement regarding why you would skip races in an election - because you were uninformed. More than likely you were uninformed because you were happy with the way things were going, leaving it to the “more informed to decide”. The only problem is, when you do that, sooner or later, the “more informed” want to put a road through your subdivision, and don’t care what you think. If the people are uninformed on the issues they have not done their duty - what is required - for a democracy to continue.

    EOW is unapologetically partisan and believes the Democratic Party offers a better way forward, at all levels of government. But we do not shut out the other side or any side, we encourage debate, and welcome criticism. An informed debate among the citizens of Williamson County is what this county was lacking and a major reason why EOW was created. But opinion will and must be included. Thanks again for reading and commenting and I hope you keep coming back.

  9. dembones said,

    August 21, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I really appreciate what Fed Up, wilcowatcher and of course my colleague wcnews said. That was great commentary folks!

    I would like to remind everyone that Eye On Williamson is a hobby. There are occasional ads on this site, and every now and then we get a check that wouldn’t cover lunch at TexAndwich. I would guess that our costs exceed our meager revenues by $50 to $100 per month. I pay all these costs for one reason: to allow this kind of discussion to happen.

    People cannot sit back and allow the grabbing hands to run government. We have to watch every move our officials make, and criticize them when they mislead us. It just so happens that for the past 14 years, all we’ve had to criticize are Republicans. But that is changing, starting in November.

    It was before my time, but those who lived here prior to 1994 know that this was a one-party Democratic government at that time. The county commissioners were probably as corrupt and inept as the current crop. It’s just a guess, but I’ll bet the Round Rock Leader and the Hill Country News were staunchly pro-Democratic at the time.

    The point is, single party rule begets bad government. As Commisioner Precinct 1 candidate Mike Grimes says, you don’t get elected based on merit, you get elected based on how well you toe the party line. The Republican grip on local government is coming to an end. EOW welcomes the new faces of Democratic politicians with the courage to criticize our current officials. They do so at great personal and financial sacrifice, and we need more citizens to follow their example.

    Once new politicians take office, I can promise readers of EOW that after a very brief honeymoon period, we will apply the exact same scrutiny to their actions as we have to the Republicans before them.

    A dream of mine is to live in a county where a site such as this has absolutely nothing to report. Human nature being what it is, I feel pretty confident that will never be the case.

  10. Nick Page said,

    August 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for all the respectfull feed back to my above letter. Ditto to all the opposing comments , ——- except for the naive comment.

    I assure you , I am far from naive . I have lived in Central Texas all my life. Born in Hillsboro, I came to Austin in the mid 70’s just out of high school.
    Bought my first house in RR in 1990. Have lived in Liberty Hill for 5 yrs.

    To ” stay informed ” on the details in this county , one pretty much has to subscribe to 5 or 6 local papers , and / or sit at a computer for hours as i have been for the last few months, or live next door to the new candidate of the month.

    I just live here , listen and observe.

    I’ve seen all the growth in the area since those days in the 70’s when Austin was full of Hippies ( me ) and 10 -speed bikes. Williamson County was about as populated as Hill County , and considered a good distance from Austin, which wasn’t even north of 183 / IH 35. The asphalt on Mopac hadn’t been placed yet, and Loop 360 was still on the books.

    The Armadillo World Headquarters was lost to development in the early 80’s , and I have never forgiven then Mayor Caroll Keeton Rylander Strayhorn ………
    but don’t get me started.

    My problem is that in all that time , I have seen the attitudes toward growth, or the lack there of. People don’t want roads , but they bitch about the traffic. We don’t want develpment encrouching on our new subdivision.

    We buy houses next to landfills and airports, and next thing you know , the sky is falling. The hospital , school , and shopping mall you oppose today you will use tomorrow. You and I own the very rooftops someone else opposed 10 yrs. before.

    Harris Branch subdivision on HWY 290 was built in the late 80’s ,during a serious economic slow down. It was litterally across the street from the Travis County landfill , and built in anticipation of the Austin Airport going to Manor. Talk about sandwiched in, that was one double whammy . I could not figure out how one house would sell , much less hundreds. Mueller airport had worn out its welcome with the neighbors, and this was baffeling to me.

    I could go on and on. But this is where my head is. I live where the North Loop of 29 around Liberty Hill would come within spitting distance of my beautiful 5 acres , but I never agreed with the send it south bs, and I made no new friends because of it.

    HW 29 should be the route since after all , it is a highway. But the business owners don’t want it , so they handed it to us. Where ever it goes, growth will surely follow. Devolopers build things, and people buy them.

    Politicians get it from all directions, some come away happy , some come away sad. Candidates can say any thing to make you happy , they don’t want anyone ( voter ) to be sad. I see no reason to believe what the new guy tells me, because the old guy said pretty much the same thing the last time around.

    I stand behind my Volkswagon comment. I see alot of hipocrocy from both parties all the way up the food chain. Dems. are no more pure than Reps. and visa versa. We each choose to believe in one candide or another, until they let us down.

    Thanks for listening

  11. wcnews said,

    August 21, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I’ve been in the WC/Austin area since the mid 70’s as well. And yes Carol 4Names 3Parties was responsible for some horrible decisions as Mayor of Austin. Who could ever forget Brown and Root (Now Halliburton) and the STNP?

    You’re right many people do complain about traffic and then complain about roads being built too. I have no problem with roads being built, my problem lies more with how they’re planned and proposed to be paid for.

    I’m sure if the elected officials in WC, the citizens, (North and South), and the business owners in Liberty Hill, would all sit down together they could work out an agreement on SH 29. That would take the will and the leadership that is sorely lacking now.

    My argument is not about party purity, there is not such thing, it’s about a better way forward. Our current government isn’t working, it once did, and it’s time for it to work again.

  12. FedUp said,

    August 22, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Case and point is this very issue with 1460. The Royal court brokered a deal with one vote to pass it and have future home buyers pay for it. And do you think they are going to inform those future residents what’s up with thier mortgage pmt? HELL NO.

    But this raises a question. What happens when no one or very few homes sell in this developers “dream” development? He’s fronted the money and will be paid back with interest. Who then will pay him back?

    Is it me, or does it look like the money the county had for road projects, parks and a new CAD system, just to name a few, have been spent else where and they are NOW trying to cover their asses? Shouldn’t be to hard when you have those spending the money doing the books.

    Like I said before, these actions and others from the Royal Court are insulting our intelligence.

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