Year: 2018

Spruce Up Your Sprinkler System and Save

Spring has arrived! The onset of warmer weather can lead to an increase in landscape irrigation. Before you ramp up your watering, be sure to spruce up your irrigation system. System maintenance can help save you a lot of money and water! Cracks in pipes can lead to costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads can waste water and money. You could be losing up to 25,000 gallons of water and more than $90 over a six-month irrigation season!

Now is the perfect time to spruce up your irrigation system. To get started, follow these four simple steps—inspect, connect, direct, and select:

Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads. Better yet, find an irrigation professional licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Qualify (TCEQ) to do the work for you. You can apply for a rebate from the City by having your system checked by a licensed irrigator.

Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water is pooling in your landscape or you have large soggy areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (1/32 of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.

Direct. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape.

Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste a lot of water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling. WaterSense labeled controllers also qualify for the City’s Efficient Irrigation Upgrade Rebate.

Don’t forget to add “sprinkler spruce-up” to your spring cleaning list this year. Learn more about maintaining a water-smart yard by visiting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense website at www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor.

Find the City’s water conservation rebate details and application at www.roundrocktexas.gov/conservation.

Mayor: Round Rock’s strategic plan sets path for success

Mayor Craig Morgan pens a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of his most recent feature.


It’s no secret why Round Rock continues to gain national attention and accolades, with an increasing number of residents moving here to enjoy our beautiful parks, community events, recreational activities, economic opportunities, safe neighborhoods and local retail. Despite our fast growth, we’ve been able to maintain a family-friendly community that is distinctive by design.

As much as I and the rest of City Council would like to take credit for these great successes, many are the result of seeds that were planted in the past. As we harvest the fruits of our predecessor’s labors, we must continue the process that will set up Round Rock’s future generations and leadership for even more success.

In February, City Council held our annual two-day retreat, which allows us time to update and reprioritize our Strategic Plan, the foundation for all long-term City initiatives. We gathered at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex, a 60-acre, $27-million facility that was added to Old Settlers Park just this past year. Looking out at the well-kept fields and facilities, I couldn’t help but think about the seeds that were planted almost 15 years ago to make this project, and others like it, a reality in our community.

In 2004, the City of Round Rock launched the Sports Capital of Texas tourism program that has since led us to host an array of youth, amateur and recreational sporting events and build tournament-class facilities. Not only did the Council at the time understand the economic potential of this endeavor, but following Councils carried the torch to ensure its ongoing success. Just this past January, we recognized former Mayor Alan McGraw’s political courage and vision by dedicating the Round Rock Sports Center Complex in his honor.

Even today, our designation as the Sports Capital of Texas remains one of our top strategic goals. Our long-term goals haven’t changed much over the past few years, but we do revisit and reprioritize them as needed to meet the changing demands we face. Our strategic goals for the next five years remain the same from last year: Financially Sound City Providing High Value Services; City Infrastructure: Today and for Tomorrow; Great Community to Live; “The Sports Capital of Texas” for Tourism and Residents; Authentic Downtown – Exciting Community Destination; and Sustainable Neighborhoods – Old and New.

Maintaining the financial soundness of our City as well as providing infrastructure that serves the needs of our community now and in coming years remained the highest priorities. We’ve heard our residents loud and clear that we have room for improvement in the City’s road

network. In our most recent citizen survey, 77 percent of residents felt traffic flow in the City was worse compared to two years before. Although we have very little control over improvements to state roads and highways, we can do everything in our power to ensure that residents experience a safe and efficient network of City streets and have transportation options beyond personal vehicles.

Priorities that increased in importance this year were those that strive to make our city a “Great Community to Live” and maintaining an “Authentic Downtown.” We have seen so much change and success in Downtown Round Rock and want to see sustainable, responsible growth in the heart of our community.

Some might say we’re lucky to be the sort of community we are today. I would argue we’ve made our own luck over many years of long-term planning and vision casting, and must continue to do so in the coming years and decades to maintain and grow our hard-earned reputation for success.

Planning commission recommends approval of Kalahari zoning

The Round Rock Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Kalahari Resort project at its March 7 meeting.

The next step will be a City Council public hearing and vote on the zoning. That is expected at a City Council meeting on April 12.

You can watch the presentations, discussion and subsequent votes from the P&Z meeting. The zoning applies to multiple parcels acquired by the City for the project. You can learn more about the rezoning process here.

Kalahari announced in June 2016 its intent to build a resort and convention center in Round Rock.

Below are some of the renderings shown by the project architect at the meeting.

KR Prelim 1
KR Prelim 2[1]
KR Prelim 3[1]
KR Prelim 4[1]
KR Prelim 5[1]
KR Prelim 6[1]
KR Prelim 7[1]

Kalahari zoning vote set for March 7 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting

Kalahari Resorts has submitted a zoning application to the City, and review and negotiations are under way between company representatives and staff. A public hearing and recommendation vote are scheduled for March 7 at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at City Hall, 221 E. Main St.

The company is planning a 1,000-room hotel, family resort and conference center on 351 acres on U.S. 79 across from the Dell Diamond. Kalahari Resorts feature large indoor waterparks which have been voted among the “World’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks.”

Based on its design needs and input from the public at a pair of open house meetings in May, Kalahari has produced an updated Site Plan. Revisions to the Site Plan were discussed at a Feb. 5 meeting with homeowner’s association representatives from Sonoma and Forest Ridge, Kalahari officials and City of Round Rock staff. Representatives from all adjacent neighborhoods were invited.

One of the most significant changes from the list of potential uses shown in May is there is no longer a request for a larger amphitheater/outdoor music venue. There is a request for small outdoor event areas where amplified music would be allowed.

Compared to the draft shown at the open house meetings last May, the buildings have shifted somewhat on the site, as though rotated clockwise. That was done in order to accommodate changes to the intersection at U.S. 79 and Harrell Parkway required by Union Pacific Railroad, as well as to save some of the big oak and pecan trees on the site, and other resort design considerations. The shift puts the indoor/outdoor waterpark closer to the neighborhoods, while the truck loading dock at the Convention Center is a little farther away from the neighborhoods (see site maps below).

The tallest buildings in the project will be farther away from the neighborhoods. The maximum requested building height is 180 feet, and that is only allowed for buildings at least 750 feet away from the southern property line. This represents a larger setback than would be required by standard zoning requirements. In the C-1a zoning district, a 180-foot tall building would be set back about 210 feet. Buildings less than 750 feet away from the southern property line can be a maximum of 75 feet tall; however, no buildings may be located in the floodplain. The existing PUD zoning at the site allows buildings 15 stories tall, which could permit structures exceeding 200 feet in height.

There remains no direct connection from the resort property to the Brushy Creek Trail. Guests could still access the trail from the sidewalk that exists today along Kenney Fort Boulevard.

As for the traffic plan, City staff are comfortable the planned intersection and street network improvements will be adequate to handle traffic flows to and around the site.

A pair of detention ponds have been added to the Site Plan, along the southern boundary of the project. The ponds are designed to control runoff from the project into Brushy Creek in order to mitigate impacts to upstream and downstream properties.

Once the public hearing is held by the Planning and Zoning Commission and a vote is taken, a public hearing and final vote will then occur at a future City Council meeting. We will reach out to nearby neighborhoods and inform residents of future meetings once they are scheduled.

For background information on the project, visit roundrocktexas.gov/kalahari.

Round Rock recognizes local third-grader for incredible service to community

You don’t have to be old to stand tall for your community! Gracie Garbade, a student at Patsy Sommer Elementary, does just that and she’s only a little more than half way through third grade.

In fact, Gracie started helping others and serving the community when she was just 5 years old. She wanted to help feed the homeless, especially homeless children.

After talking with her family, they came up with the idea of a food drive.

“I was driving with my mom and I saw homeless people and I felt bad for them,” Gracie said. “The plan was we would set up multiple different booths in our neighborhood, and we would ask family and friends, and make lots of posters.”

Her first year, she collected 100 pounds of food by setting up simple donation stands in her neighborhood and asking those she knew for help. Fast-forward to 2017 and her efforts multiplied, touching the lives of many more as she was able to collect over 1,100 pounds of food by leading the charge to create a school-wide donation drive.

She talked to classrooms and even spoke on the school announcements to get the word out.

“My goal is for everyone in the world to have enough food to eat,” she said.

According to others, Gracie has a heart of gold and is always helping others, one year even going so far as writing a letter to Santa asking him to bring gifts for all the kids in need.

Seeing this story and understanding the incredible importance of people helping people, City Council, at its Feb. 22, 2018 meeting, took time to consider a special presentation in recognition of Gracie’s service to Round Rock. Mayor Craig Morgan also had a special one-on-one meeting with the young leader and her mother.

Thank you, Gracie. Our community, state, nation, and world need more people like you.

Mayor Morgan on the City Council dais with Gracie and her brother.

 

Mayor: UniverCity program gives inside look of city

Mayor Craig Morgan pens a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of his most recent feature.


Local government touches our lives every day, often in ways that we take for granted.

First responders and building inspectors keep us and our families safe. Engineers design essential infrastructure, including the roads we travel and the pipes that bring water to our homes.

Planners help envision and shape city growth while maintaining the uniqueness of Round Rock. Parks and Recreation provides ways for us to connect with each other and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Employees across several departments maintain our existing infrastructure to keep our investments in working condition. Our city managers work with stakeholders from across our City to make the goals we set on City Council a reality. In addition to these necessary services, the City of Round Rock persistently works to meet changing citizen demands, advances in technology, and new federal and state mandates.

Our residents have a unique opportunity to learn more about how their local government works in UniverCity, the City of Round Rock’s citizen education class. Initially implemented by Community Engagement Administrator Joseph Brehm, UniverCity allows participants to experience firsthand the work it takes to run a city department. City staff hosts presentations to discuss operations, budget and challenges, and leads the class on tours of City of Round Rock facilities such as the Police Department, fire stations, park facilities and our sign shop. City Council members also attend portions of the class for question-and-answer sessions with participants.

Our first class graduated in December and was comprised of several community leaders from diverse backgrounds and interests. UniverCity received excellent feedback, and graduates said they felt much more knowledgeable about City services. Due to the popularity of the program, staff plans to conduct the classes twice per year, with one in the spring and one in the fall. At this time, applications are based on referrals from community leaders and those who have been through the program.

Most importantly, UniverCity provides useful experience for anyone who has considered serving on a City of Round Rock commission or taking another leadership role in our community. In an era of low voter turnout, we are constantly looking at ways to better engage citizens so that our City can continue to count on having informed and engaged leaders to continue Round Rock’s successes in the future.

Even after serving on City Council for almost seven years, I can tell you that there is always something new to learn about the way our City government functions and plans for the future. It is my hope that our graduates leave feeling as inspired as I do every day by all that our public servants do to make our community a great place to live.

To inquire about the nomination process for upcoming classes or other questions about UniverCity, please email Neighborhood Services Coordinator Katy Price at kprice@roundrocktexas.gov.

 

Round Rock set to host one of the largest cake shows in the nation

That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition is one of the largest cake shows in the U.S., and much to our sugary satisfaction, it’s back in Round Rock again in 2018.

The show is set to take place at the Round Rock Sports Center Feb. 23-25. It will feature competitions with more than 300 works of sugar art, informal demonstrations, full in-person classes taught by sugar artists from around the country, speciality vendors and more.

More information on the event can be found online at: https://www.thattakesthecake.org


 

Freeze Protection

Welcome to the new year!  Did your landscape look like any of these pictures recently??  Those beautiful icicles and “snowy” grass is a hint that you have probably left your irrigation system on and it ran during the freezing temperatures we’ve recently had.  Please, go turn them off now!  

I will admit that I like to go drive around town the morning of a freeze to see who has left their systems on.  It’s very dangerous–with frozen sidewalks and streets, but also a little humorous.  I hope to not have a picture of your house or business!

Having the irrigation system on in freezing temperatures can cause a lot of damage to the system–freezing pipes and heads, which can cause broken pipes and heads, and then leaks.  This means water waste and higher water bills!  It can also damage the plants, being coated with water that freezes is hard on the plant and could essentially freeze it to death.  You don’t want any of that!

Having your irrigation system on during the winter months is also not recommended since we’re still in waste water averaging mode.  The less water you use from November through February, the lower your wastewater (or sewer) charges will be the rest of the year.  Find more on wastewater averaging here.

Here’s a quick list of things to do to protect your irrigation and landscape investments during freezing temperatures:

  1. Turn off your irrigation system.  (Reasons stated above.)
  2. Compost and mulch outdoor plants thoroughly.  These two layers will help insulate the plant’s root zones while supplying the plant with needed nutrients.  Two inches of mulch is ideal, and remember, not too close to the trunk of trees or shrubs.  Mulch should be about two finger widths away from the truck.
  3. Water well, but avoid moisture on the plant leaves and stems–this means hand-water.  No irrigation use (of course, underground drip is fine).  Water saturated soil holds heat better than dry soil.  Keep damaged plants well watered, but be aware that plants needs much less water in cooler months.
  4. Water only when temperatures rise above 45 degrees or higher the day before a freeze.

During most winters, supplemental watering isn’t necessary.  Think about your landscape, and water bill, before adding additional water in the winter.