Steve Pustelnyk, director of communications for the CTRMA, talks with Oak Hill resident and Fix290 member Carol Cespedes at a previous CTRMA open house/workshop event to gather input from the public on the possible Oak Hill Parkway project for the ‘Y’ area.
by Bobbie Jean Sawyer
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) will continue seeking community input on the Oak Hill Parkway project—a potential redesign of the ‘Y’ in Oak Hill—during a Jan. 31 environmental workshop meeting at 6 p.m. at the ACC Pinnacle campus on the 10th floor.
The workshop will focus on environmental concerns over the potential project. Community members who have been active in environmental issues and have previously attended meetings on the project are encouraged to attend.
Steve Pustelnyk, director of communications for the CTRMA, said environmental concerns laid out in a series of upcoming workshops would help shape the Oak Hill Parkway project as it progresses.
“What we’re trying to do now is get a little bit more into the detail of the environmental issues and concerns in the Oak Hill area so that when we move forward with the environmental study we can make sure there are no surprises along the way,” Pustelnyk said. “We’re really trying to get with the folks who are very familiar and very interested in that part of the community to understand what things we should be looking out for and considering as we move through the developments of the alternatives for the process.”
Pustelnyk said he anticipates an attendance of about 20 to 30 community members.
The workshop will include brief presentations by environmental experts on topics such as water quality and vegetation in the Oak Hill area, followed by an opportunity for attendees to share their thoughts on local environmental matters, Pustelnyk said.
The first open house meeting on the Oak Hill Parkway project was held in November of last year, allowing attendees to interact with TxDOT and Mobility Authority staff, express concerns and provide feedback to be considered in future community meetings on the project.
Pustelnyk said next week’s environmental workshop is a continuation of the conversational approach.
“It’s going to be a very interactive process,” Pustelnyk said. “We’re still in a listening phase. So we’re going to provide basic information that we’ve already acquired from past work and current work related to the environment in that area and then we’re going to ask folks for their input regarding those issues.”
Pustelnyk said while Williamson Creek and heritage trees are major points of concern, there are several other factors that have to be considered throughout the environmental impact study process.
“There are cultural things such as cemeteries and schools; any sort of facilities could be negatively impacted by a major project. We take all of those into account,” Pustelnyk said. “It’s actually far more than just the obvious things like water quality and trees.”
Pustelnyk said ideas gathered from the workshop would be considered for use in possible community enhancement projects, such as concepts garnered from the 2011 Green Mobility Project, which included urban parkland and enhanced aesthetic and landscaping features in Oak Hill.
“Elements that come out of the environmental workshop that might be applicable to the project enhancement team could be brought to that group in the future. Everything we do in these work groups could lead to elements that might be considered a project enhancement,” Pustelnyk said.
Those interested in getting involved in the Oak Hill Parkway project and tracking its progress will have plenty of opportunities, Pustelnyk said.
“We’re going to have a series of these workshops on various issues for the next two to three months and then we anticipate having another broad open house, where we’ll probably start to roll out some of the early alternatives in the late spring or early summer,” Pustelnyk said. “So by mid-year, folks will have the opportunity to see what some of the preliminary ideas and alternatives are—to start looking at mobility improvements in the area.”
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