City to take prop­erty for $3 mil­lion project

Em­i­nent do­main will be used for 4 acres to con­nect trails in city, county.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Ben­jam­inwer­mund bw­er­mund@states­ Con­tact Ben­jamin Wermund at 246-1150. Twit­ter: @Ben­jam­inew

ROUND ROCK — Af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with landown­ers fell flat, the city of Round Rock will use em­i­nent do­main to take about 4 acres where the city plans to con­struct what of­fi­cials say is a cru­cial two-mile stretch of trails — a roughly $3 mil­lion project that will con­nect ma­jor trails in the city and even­tu­ally through­out the county.

The two tracts the City Coun­cil voted to take Thurs­day are east of the Play for All Abil­i­ties Park off A.W. Grimes Boule­vard. The stretch of trail the city will con­struct there will con­nect the Brushy Creek trail sys­tem with the Greater Lake Creek trail sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to city doc­u­ments. Round Rock Parks and Recre­ation Di­rec­tor Rick Atkins said that once they are con­nected, the trails will run “pretty much from our east­ern bor­der to down­town.”

The project fits into the county’s master plan for hik­ing and bik­ing trails, a plan that calls for the even­tual ad­di­tion of 14 miles of new trails to con­nect 87 miles of trails through­out the county. The plan was brought be­fore the Com­mis­sion­ers Court in Septem­ber, but the court did not vote on it, so it awaits ap­proval.

Of­fi­cials have said walking, hik­ing and bik­ing trails are the most highly used parts of the county’s parks sys­tem.

Even­tu­ally, Atkins said, “you’ll be able to jump on that trail sys­tem and go from east to west in our county.”

Be­tween the county, cities and pri­vate de­vel­op­ers, more than 207 miles of trails have been laid out through the county, with 578 more miles pro­posed by the master plan that com­mis­sion­ers heard about in Septem­ber.

To clear the way for the project, Round Rock will take about 2.6 acres owned by John Bolt Har­ris, Su­san Hickox Har­ris and the Hickox Fam­ily Trust. The city will also take a lit­tle more than 1 acre owned by Charles and Fran­cis Du­mas.

City of­fi­cials would not say how much they of­fered for the prop­er­ties, which have no struc­tures. County ap­praisal records show land in the area go­ing for $17,000 an acre or more.

Round Rock and Wil­liamson County are part­ner­ing on the twom­ile trail project, which will be funded mostly through grants, ac­cord­ing to city doc­u­ments. The city will spend $190,000 and the county will spend $400,000 to­ward the roughly $3 mil­lion project, Atkins said. The rest will be funded by grants, in­clud­ing $2.36 mil­lion from the Cap­i­tal Area Met­ro­pol­i­tan Plan­ning Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“It’s a really sig­nif­i­cant piece of grant fund­ing,” Atkins said.

He said the city hopes to start con­struc­tion on the trails in the spring or sum­mer and said the project could be com­plete as early as the be­gin­ning of 2014.

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