Trails up next in City’s park plans

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

With memorials, splash pads and future pools on the way, Liberty Hill is looking closely at another issue in the effort to improve the local park system – connecting them together.

In a brief presentation to the Liberty Hill Parks & Recreation Board at its May 15 meeting, Jordan Maddox with Halff Associates, updated the Board on the progress of the trails master plan.

“We’ve been given two tasks by the city,” he said. “One is to make sure that in the city proper, we connect schools, parks and other points of interest. There’s been a lot of activity on all the various parks Liberty Hill has and so we are looking at community destination trails, because they’re focused on what’s here today and the connectivity we want to create in the community.”

The trails plan will work in much the same way the recently adopted transportation plan will for the city as it grows, outlining the future vision so it can be included as much as possible in development plans.

“When the city is looking at capital improvement projects, applying for grants, development and working with TxDOT, CTRMA and these transportation entities, that you can get some of these shared-use paths, off-street trails, and start getting some connectivity, down to River Ranch, down the San Gabriel and to some of the other city parks,” Maddox said.

The map of proposed in town trails, including the already-approved shared use path along Loop 332 from downtown to State Highway 29 to the east, is the short-term plan, looking out 10 to 15 years.

It also includes a trail from downtown the other direction on Loop 332 to City Park, a trail east along SH 29 to US Highway 183, and trails along RR 1869 and CR 279 to reach River Ranch Park. Off street trails along the San Gabriel River and paralleling the railroad tracks are also mapped.

The goal is to connect as many parks and school campuses as possible within the system.

In a wider view, beyond the 15-year plan, Halff has also mapped out potential trails in conjunction with the transportation plan.

“We have incorporated all of those paths into this plan, on the assumption there will be some sort of pedestrian sidewalk or some type of trail associated with that roadway when it gets built,” Maddox said.

The next step is to bring the completed plan to the parks board for approval and then to the city council for adoption.

“We are working on the plan document, and we will have some corresponding exhibits with trail cross sections and making some recommendations on how the city can take the next steps in this plan.”

While it is a separate project, the parks master plan with Williamson County that Halff is putting together will also impact Liberty Hill, as it looks more in-depth at the San Gabriel River trail options.

“We are looking at that parcel by parcel, figuring out where the best location would be, how to achieve the construction of that trail in the short term,” Maddox said. “Hopefully, that will be connected in with the City of Leander and City of Georgetown. It’s not just figuring out where things go, but how they are connected, how they’re funded and patience is always a virtue when it comes to trails.”

Maddox said they expect to finalize the report for presentation to the Parks Board in June.

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