Around 600 people attended a showcase last week of future development plans for a slice of Cedar Park near a section of U.S. 183.
The event was called “A Day in the Bell District” and its goal was to give residents an idea of what the completed development, extending across 52 acres near the section of U.S. 183 between Park Street and Brushy Creek Road, might feel like.
The event was held in the gym of the Cedar Park Recreation Center and featured live music, food and a virtual reality booth giving a tour of the Buttercup Creek Natural Area, a forested region nearby which will be turned into Bell Park.
The gym was divided into four zones, each with their own themes relating to the future development. One area that represented Bell Park was situated on a square patch of fake grass in the middle of the gym.
The patch contained park benches, rented from the Cedar Park Library, on each side; a giant Connect Four game in the center for children to play with; and an art vendor selling paintings.
Two presentations at 6:15 and 7:15 p.m. by officials involved in the development were also featured, given by Cedar Park Assistant City Manager Katherine Caffrey, and staff from RedLeaf, LLC – the approved master developer for the Bell Boulevard project.
Attendees to the first presentation had to stand on the sidelines as most of the 150 chairs setup had been filled. During portions of the speeches, officials asked the audience multiple-choice questions about aspects of the project. Clickers were given to attendees who asked for them and allowed the guests to submit their answers.
The questions included topics such as “what concerns you the most about the Bell Blvd development?” and “what type of restaurant are you excited to go to?” The former question contained five potential answers: noise, traffic, too many people, local business impacts, and changes to old Cedar Park.
The data used from all the polls taken at the event will inform the project and the full data will be released online later.
Of those, around 50 percent of those with clickers at the first speech voted that traffic was their main concern.
“I’m a little concerned about the flow of traffic in the after-work hours,” said one attendee, who wouldn't give her name. “How is it going to affect the routes?” she said, referring to the project’s plan to move a section of U.S. 183 slightly east.
Others, like local Chris Wenz, who runs Over the Top Quilting Studio with her sister, said she was worried about the development’s effects on local businesses. “Will this increase my property value? I’m not sure,” Wenz said. “I think it will impact my business in a positive way,” she said.
Still, she added that “it’s a bit concerning because bills have to be paid and the little guys can only pay so much.”
Jonathan Estill, another Cedar Park resident, said he didn’t like the idea of the city using public money to fund the project outright. “I’m concerned that we’re not going to get value out of our money,” Estill said.
His mother, Beckye Estill, said she was worried about keeping the area’s greenery around for the future. “Hopefully we can keep some of the natural beauty,” she said.
However, many who attended expressed their excitement and hope about the future development.
“I think it’s great,” said Becky Shelton, a 30-year resident of Cedar Park. “The way they’re getting participation is well thought out and if they apply it, I think it’ll be a success,” Shelton said.
“I’m very encouraged that it’s going to be a nice area,” said Josh Pruett, a resident who recently moved from Austin.