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CAMPO approves funds for

Thursday, December 13, 2001 by

Cedar Park, Pflugerville

Capital Metro chips in $40,000 in federal funds

Opting out of Capital Metro has not stopped Cedar Park and Pflugerville from asking the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) to fund a transit master plan.

The CAMPO PAC did agree to transfer $40,000 in next year’s federal transit funds to the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) for a study of transportation alternatives in the two cities, but not without some complaining. Longtime CAMPO critic Roger Baker, for one, told the board it was ridiculous to offer funding to the two cities.

“If they’re going to participate in a public transportation system and transportation funding, they ought to rejoin Capital Metro,” Baker told the board. “We’re going to need every penny we have for the people who have joined Capital Metro.”

To which Chair State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin) replied that there were “some areas out there that don’t want to get taxed but do want some transportation alternatives.”

The $40,000 will come out of the 2 percent in funding Capital Metro set aside last February for potential transit service for Cedar Park and Pflugerville, pending the completion of a feasibility study. CARTS will provide a $10,000 match to complete the funding of the $50,000 study.

The carrot Cedar Park City Councilman Lance Pettigrew dangled before CAMPO was the possibility that the study might lead the city to rejoin Capital Metro. Pettigrew said he had no idea where the transit study would lead, but Capital Metro was an option.

“We are interested in transportation solutions and exploring those options,” Pettigrew said. “Sometime in the future we might reach an agreement to opt back in. That’s an option.”

And Capital Metro was eager to participate in the planning study. John Trevino, who represents Capital Metro on the CAMPO board, said that “in the spirit of cooperation and regional sharing,” Capital Metro wanted to participate in the transit study. Capital Metro, Trevino pointed out, still has bus service as far out as Leander. It would only be logical that the transit agency and CARTS share information from a regional transit study.

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin), who lives in Pflugerville, said she was unhappy she had not been informed of the interest in the funds by either Cedar Park or Pflugerville. Dukes added that she considered a further transit study of the area to be “duplicative in nature” given the fact Pflugerville just voted itself out of the Capital Metro. She also expressed concerns that funding typically reserved for rural areas was being used for an area she considered to be far more urban than rural in nature.

Despite her concerns, Dukes and her colleagues unanimously voted to support the expenditure. State Rep. Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock) made the motion. The board also approved Capital Metro’s involvement in the study. Mayor Gus Garcia said he hoped that Cedar Park and Pflugerville could learn from the agreement Leander had worked out with Capital Metro to provide some transportation benefits to the city.

BOA grants parking variance

For historic R.L. Moore house

Relocation is a success story

The Board of Adjustment has granted a parking variance for the new location of the R.L. Moore House at 2303 Rio Grande. The house, which was originally the home of UT mathematics professor R.L. Moore, serves as the offices for the non-profit foundation devoted to promoting the “inquiry-based” teaching method Moore developed ( http://www.discovery.utexas.edu/rlm). It was scheduled to be demolished to make way for new development at its previous location of 903 W. 23rd, but was purchased by an Austin-based group called the Educational Advancement Foundation, which is affiliated with the R.L. Moore Foundation

The regulations for the new site would have required a minimum of ten parking spaces, while the owners of the property sought the variance to allow for only six to be located at the rear of the property. “One of the conditions the Historic Landmark Commission placed upon us (for permission to move the house) was that they did not want any parking along Rio Grande,” said Richard Mathias, representing the Rio Grande del Rey Limited Partnership. “It’s very low use. It’s not the typical administrative office where you have people coming and going.”

Representatives of the foundation told the board that 10 parking spaces would not be necessary, as they anticipated only two employees in the building and very few visitors. Most of those visitors, they said, would likely be coming from the University of Texas campus, which is within walking distance.

Mike McHone, representing University Area Partners, told board members the 99-year-old home fit well with the surrounding neighborhood, while the curb cuts that would be required for the additional parking would not. “What you have here is a success story,” said McHone of the home’s relocation to Rio Grande.

The site was previously the location of a boarding house built in the 1960’s. Owners of the property had sought a zoning change that would have allowed the site to be used for parking (see In Fact Daily, April 12, 2001 ), but the Planning Commission deleted that use before voting to recommend a zoning change for the site earlier this year.

Board members asked about the possibility of sharing parking with surrounding businesses or leasing spots in a nearby parking garage, but were persuaded that the limited number of visitors to the building would mean the full 10 spaces would not be necessary. They voted unanimously to approve the variance.

2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reasons to dread or look forward to today’s City Council meeting: Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan rezoning, third verse of Saga 2001 . . . street connectivity ordinance (aka: subdivision ordinance) . . . arguments over a 12-foot strip of downtown land and its potential for parking . . . Zoning for the Villas on Guadalupe . . . Zoning for the Holly Neighborhood Plan . . . Ahead of the pack . . . Attorney Lulu Flores will be announcing her candidacy for the new House of Representatives District 51 next Monday. Flores, who ran for District 51 in 1991 against Rep. Glenn Maxey when he was first elected, also ran against Maxey the following year. She is the incoming president of the Texas Women’s Political Caucus, a post she has held in the past. Flores is also holding her first fundraiser Monday night from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Nuevo Leon restaurant, 1501 East Sixth Street. Others interested in the seat include Eddie Rodriguez, Maxey’s former aide, and Sam Guzman. The field in the Democratic primary is likely to be crowded . . . Watching the enemy . . . Statesman editor Rich Oppel was taking notes last night as the Board and Commissions Process Review Task Force reviewed its recommendations for updating the city’s regulations relating to boards and commissions. Oppel, a staunch opponent of the city’s advisory board process, has written a number of editorials critical of different decisions made by city commissions and has criticized the city for such citizen input. Don’t be surprised if Oppel starts those complaints again. One of the statistics we expect to read in an upcoming column was provided by City Clerk Shirley Brown—that city boards and commissions held 592 meetings last year. Brown was saying it wouldn’t be possible for her office to keep the minutes of each of those meetings, as had been suggested. She said she has neither the staff nor the space for the voluminous records of panels such as the Planning Commission. Other task force members seemed to agree with that assessment. The task force appears near the end of its work, but not quite done yet . . . Fair Warning . . . Gus Peña, president of East Austin Concerned Hispanics, spoke to the ZAP Commission this week during the citizens communications. He encouraged members to approve more affordable housing in East Austin. Peña, a regular speaker during the City Council’s citizen communications, told commissioners he would be back to visit with them more frequently.

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