by Bobbie Jean Sawyer
AUSTIN – Residents in Circle C North are rallying to preserve the only remaining green space in their neighborhood, and have gathered over 800 signatures so far in a petition they plan to present to City Council.
Circle C neighbors want a parcel of land, located at Barstow Avenue and Davis Lane, to be used as a neighborhood park. But current city of Austin planning has the land slated to become a street extending Barstow to Deer Lane.
Circle C HOA member Ed Scruggs said the city’s decision came as a surprise to Circle C residents.
“All along the thought was we would have a park there,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs said when Circle C North was originally developed, there was a discussion as to whether to extend Barstow to Deer Lane, but traffic didn’t warrant the construction of the new road.
Scruggs said the Circle C HOA has been trying to address the lack of amenities in Circle C North for years.
“One of our major initiatives was to bring amenities to the neighborhood. We were able to do it in most parts of Circle C except for Circle C North, because there was no available open land to build on,” Scruggs said. “There were a few parcels that were vacant at the time that were still owned by the developer. They had expressed a desire at the time to deed that over to the Homeowners Association so we could put amenities on it.”
The land was eventually sold in a bankruptcy case before it could be deeded to the HOA, Scruggs said. Part of the land was used for additional neighborhood homes and the stretch between Barstow and Deer Lane remained unused.
“There was a desire expressed for families, joggers, families with young children in strollers and dog walkers to have a place to walk without having to cross Slaughter Lane,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs said the high traffic on Slaughter Lane makes pedestrian travel in the area difficult.
“This is the only opportunity that neighborhood has for getting any kind of amenity. If Slaughter wasn’t as busy as it is it might not be as pressing,” Scruggs said. “But really and truly, crossing it and then walking down to the metro park—it’s just too far.”
Scruggs said he believes building a new road through the neighborhood will increase through traffic.
“I feel that if you put the road in there it will encourage more people to take Slaughter to bypass the ‘Y’. We’ve had a big problem with that—so much so that Slaughter is becoming congested,” Scruggs said. “Knowing how people are, in the search to bypass the ‘Y’ to get to Mopac, they’re going to cut up that road through Circle C North to get to Deer Lane to cut all the way across to try to hit Mopac. I just don’t see any point in that.”
Scruggs said the park’s design would be simple and inexpensive.
“It’s designed with the environment in mind. It’s basically a trail with a few basic elements, with lots of xeriscaping plant-wise,” Scruggs said. “I don’t believe it’s going to require a watering system at all.”
Claudia Corum, a resident of Circle C North, said the neighborhood is made up of several young families who would benefit from an easily-accessible park, which would include a walking trail.
“They would have this incredible park to walk to,” Corum said. “There are no other facilities at all. We have no amenities in Circle C that we can get to without a car.”
Corum said the park’s trail would also provide a safer walk to school for Gorzycki students living in the Heights of Loma Vista.
Corum said Circle C North residents are circulating an online petition for the park at ipetitions.com, and have racked up hundreds of comments in favor of the park on the Circle C Facebook Page. As of press time, the petition has 803 signatures. The petition will be presented to City Council at an upcoming council meeting.
“I’ve been really happy with the support we’ve gotten from the HOA,” Corum said. “They’re really behind those of us in Circle C North, and other people in Circle C are signing the petition.”
Karen Hibpshman, the community manager for Circle C, said building a road would do nothing to improve traffic congestion in the area.
“The HOA actually had a traffic study done and it shows that if the road was built, it doesn’t have a positive or negative impact on the traffic,” Hibpshman said. “You would be funneling traffic down a narrower road that would end up diverting traffic through residential streets rather than going down the main arteries.”
Hibpshman said the park would provide an interactive educational experience for neighborhood families.
“The park that we’re proposing is very low maintenance. It’s designed a lot along the guidelines of what (Ladybird Johnson) Wildflower Center is,” Hibpshman said. “We want it to be a learning area for kids and even adults to have a better idea of the local types of plants that are in Texas, but on a much smaller scale
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