Downtown charrette update 3: Main Street ballfields meeting recap
We had a really productive meeting Tuesday night to discuss
the Main Street ballfields issue. My thanks to all who attended and shared
their comments and listened to those of others in a spirit of mutual respect. There
were many heart-felt comments, and many who attended spoke passionately about
their desires. We truly had a civil conversation about a difficult
This issue, in nutshell, is this: There are about six acres
on East Main Street that have been used as baseball fields by the community for
decades. The Sam Bass baseball league has been the most recent user of the
fields, which were owned by Trisun, the company that also owns Trinity Care Center nearby. Trisun gifted the property to the Round Rock Community Foundation
2007 August 2008 on two
conditions: 1) the Hope Alliance would move its administrative offices and
women's shelter to the site next to the Round Rock Serving Center, and 2) the
remaining property would be used to benefit social service agencies. Two of the
six acres are zoned commercial, with the remaining four acres zoned
Nearby residents, who belong to the Heart of Round Rock
Neighborhood Association, were extremely concerned about a cluster of social
service providers in that location. A schematic drawing was shown last night,
which was produced in 2007 and circulated at that time, which showed four,
two-story buildings on the site, with the buildings fronting the street and 350
parking spaces on the rear of the property. Former Mayor Nyle Maxwell, who
sits on the board of directors of the Community Foundation board, had asked for the drawing to show maximum
utilization of the site. Maxwell's vision is to give a group of social service
providers the opportunity to share administrative offices and other resources
while giving their clients the possibility of accessing various agencies in one
Some of the specific concerns voiced by residents last night were: loss
of green space, additional traffic, uses incompatible with a single family
neighborhood, and building designs that don't blend with the historic homes.
It seemed clear that most residents were OK with having Hope
Alliance located on the site, as well as WBCO's adult day care and Head Start
program, which serve children and the elderly, respectively. (The WBCO programs are
currently in the former Methodist church building on Brown Street, which no
longer meets their needs and which they want to sell to the City, which is
considering the site for a parking garage.) Representatives from Hope Alliance
said they need a total of 12,000-15,000 square feet for their offices and a
60-bed shelter; folks from WBCO said they need 10,000-12,000 square feet for
the adult day care and Head Start program.
Neal Payton from Torti Gallas, who is leading the charrette
and who moderated last night's discussion, noted you could fit both those
facilities on the two acres zoned commercial (which is next to the Serving
Center), but he also said, from an urban design perspective, you wouldn't want to
leave the remaining four acres for parkland. That's too much park to benefit
too few families in a corner of the neighborhood. Leaving some of that four
acres for a passive park or open space probably would be appropriate.
Neal noted a Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.) could be formulated
for the site. A P.U.D. is essentially a negotiated land use agreement that can
provide for multiple uses that somewhat outside the box of traditional zoning.
It's a way for developers and neighbors to work together to find land use solutions
that are acceptable to both.
The meeting ended with the Community Foundation agreeing
to work with the neighborhood to see if there is an acceptable solution that
satisfies both and is in context with the overall Downtown Master Plan.
This post certainly isn't meant to be a detailed recitation of
the meeting. I've just tried to capture the main points. Some residents were
clear they want the ballfields to remain ballfields, period. Other residents
didn't have a problem at all with social services at that location. But I believe
we left the meeting with a spirit of compromise and a promise to work together
to find a solution everyone can live with. As Neal said, urban planning is all about
compromise. In our plan, no one will get 100 percent of what they want, but
everyone should get at least a little bit of what they want.
If you feel I've left out pertinent points, please leave a
comment. And again, thanks to all who participated and helped the community
make some real progress on this important issue.