Long confirms River Ranch Park delays

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By Kristen Meriwether

Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long delivered her State of the County update to residents of Liberty Hill last week. The event, held at Dahlia Cafe, was part of the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation’s new Business Leadership Series.

Long, who has been living in Williamson County since 1988 and serving as a commissioner since 2007, talked about the amount of growth the county has recently seen.

Census records show Williamson County grew from 260,000 residents when she was elected, to 609,000 residents in 2020. Precinct 2, which Long represents, has seen the most growth in the county for the third census in a row. Precinct 2 includes Liberty Hill.

The change in population across the state required the Legislature to redraw the maps for the State House and Senate, State Board of Education, and Congress. With those finally passed last week, the County will begin redrawing the county precinct maps in an attempt to keep each precinct at roughly 152,000 residents.

“Precinct 1 and 4 need to gain folks,” Long said. “As we are redistricting, we are going to have to move neighborhoods and parks in Precinct 2 into other precincts.”

Long said a draft of the county redistricting maps are expected to be presented next week.

Long also addressed the still-unopened River Ranch County Park. The county broke ground on the 1,354- acre park in 2018 with expectations to open this year. Long called it a, “jewel for Liberty Hill,” but it will be a little longer until it’s unveiled.

“Unfortunately, we ran into challenges with our contractor,” Long said. “We are in the process of going through the surety bond.”

She added that the County has tried working with the contractor to bring the project to completion, but was unsuccessful. The surety bond will attempt to get the contractor to finish. If they are unsuccessful, the unfinished work will have to go out for bid again.

“Sadly, it’s a little bit left to finish on everything,” Long said. “There is not one thing so we could open a section.”

Long said she would update residents when it’s ready to open, but did not expect that this year.

During the question and answer part of her presentation Long was asked by three residents about the Corridor I-2 project, which consists of a corridor study for a new expressway between U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 29 in Burnet County.

“We live seven miles north of this town to not hear traffic, to not see traffic, to run our livestock and live our country life. Now the county wants to come in and put this gigantic loop miles to the north,” one resident said. “To us, it looks like a land grab to try and make this town bigger.”

Long offered to speak with the concerned residents individually to discuss the project and how it impacts their land.

Williamson County sent letters to landowners in the area earlier this month requesting meetings about potential right-of-way preservation. The residents at the meeting on Oct. 21 expressed concerns about how the purchase would affect property values, if they would be able to maintain agriculture exemptions and brought up concerns of imminent domain being used to take the right-of-way if needed.

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