Three West Lake Hills residents said during the Sept. 23 West Lake Hiils City Council meeting that their interest was piqued by a sign on the greenspace adjacent to their homes that read “property for sale” but hadn’t heard prior that city officials were looking to sell the 2.46-acre bit of land owned by the city for decades at 110 Westlake Drive.
The residents who can look into the heavily treed tract from their homes came to the meeting to tell the council that they would like to have been notified more directly and were successful in convincing city officials to push back deadlines of the sale until more resident feedback could be heard.
The City Council has been discussing the potential sale of the tract for several months, parsing the land’s limitations and affirming that, once buyer offers are reviewed, the city doesn’t necessarily have to accept any of them. The deadline set for purchase proposals was Sept. 19, but residents convinced the council to hold off for a couple more months while a town hall meeting is held and feedback from residents is gathered. The new deadline for proposals is Nov. 20.
Resident Michael Tenney said that when he moved to the area nearly 18 years ago, he contacted the city to find out what might happen with the green space and was told the property would probably remain untouched indefinitely. Building something commercial or residential there, Tenney argued, would exacerbate traffic problems.
“Not only is this greenspace, this is thousands of trees,” Tenney said. “It also insulates us from all of the traffic noise on Bee Cave Road and the light pollution and air pollution – those trees add a lot of oxygen to Westlake.”
The city posted a notice about the sale on the city’s website, but Mayor Linda Anthony apologized and said she felt the city could have done a better job about sending out notices. Asked by residents why the city was considering selling the land at all, she cited financial concerns.
“It’s been something previous councils have discussed and not taken any action on,” Anthony said. “We have spent a considerable amount of money on acquiring Bee Cave Road right-of-way, and the city reserves are not what they used to be. This (land) is an asset … since we’re also in the process of facing a potential bond election and fairly major and expensive road and drainage repairs, as well as facilities upgrades and the fluctuation of the sales tax base and the legislature wanting to tie our hands on our ability to raise our own property taxes, we thought we would explore the sale of this piece of property.”
Residents at the meeting said they felt that a wider swath of West Lake Hills residents should get a chance to comment on what should happen with the piece of property, if anything, and council members agreed. The City Council agreed a town hall meeting should be held in mid-October, though a date is not yet finalized.