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Proposed West Austin Youth Sports Complex Drawing Controversy
A proposed youth complex near Bee Caves has some neighbors speaking out. Some are concerned the massive facility will have a negative impact on the environment and traffic. Plans show the proposed complex would take up 51 acres owned by Eanes ISD near Taylor Rd. and River Hills Rd. It would also have 800 parking spaces, eight baseball fields, four extra fields, tennis courts, and an indoor sports facility.
With rolling hills, Lake Austin nearby, and many nearby families, Shannon O’Connor, a mother of four, says the River Hills Road area is a great place to live and raise a family, but one of the worst places for a sports complex.
“Eight hundred parking spaces is gonna mean thousands and thousands of carloads per day," said O’Connor, who lives near the proposed site. She says traffic is her biggest safety concern.
"All those cars coming up on those roads, running late, hitting work traffic, needing to get to a game, and the road just can't support it," she said.
O’Connor also worries about construction’s environmental impact.
"Right across the street from Lake Austin on top of a hill side,” said O’Connor. “All that runoff is gonna go into the lake.”
“Those are our concerns too," said Greg Rives, president of Western Hills Little League, the organization spearheading the effort to build the complex.
Rives says his group has been looking at potential sites for a long time and believes the current site is their best option.
"We are aware of runoff, environmental issues,” said Rives. “We're doing studies to make sure that anything we do out there is minimal."
He says they’re building it so parents like Chris Davis don’t have to drive all over town to play on a limited number of fields always in heavy demand.
"If we're lucky we're getting an hour an week of practice time on an actual field," said Davis, a father of two who lives near the site. "We're excited about it (the project)."
Still, opponents worry some costs associated with the project will be passed on to those who don’t use it.
“They're gonna have to widen the roads, they're gonna have to have a stoplight up there and somebody's gonna have to pay for that," said O’Connor.
"That's something that we're talking to TxDOT about," said Rives, who said WHLL has agreed to put in turn lanes, along with a light at River Hills Rd. and Bee Caves, if TxDOT thinks it’s needed. He says they’ll ask the county for help with funding.
To pay for the complex, Rives says the organizations involved with the project, which include WHLL plus at least eight other youth sports leagues, will fundraise, though just how much they’ll have to pay is still widely up in the air. Rives listed “anywhere from five to 20 million dollars" as a ballpark figure.
Rives says WHLL would lease the facility from Eanes ISD. He says the league should have all of their permits in within 30-60 days.
Rives says the massive facility will have free spaces open to the public.
Neighbors expressed concern about the noise and light pollution, and that adult leagues would be able to use it too. Rives says they’re working with neighbors on site restrictions, one being that no alcohol is allowed.
By Adam Bennett