Leander City Council

Leander Council to discuss Rec Center alternative, street tree regulations

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The Leander City Council will receive a presentation from Premier Athletic Complex owner Jeff Buch "regarding a potential recreation center" starting 6 p.m. Thursday during their briefing workshop prior to the regular council meeting. 

Leander voters approved the creation of a Recreation Center in May 2016 by passing an $18 million bond, which would cover the acquisition of land, its construction and equipping it.

In May 2018, the previous council approved a contract with the Greater Williamson County YMCA to operate and lease the facility from the city once it is constructed, which has been a subject of controversy. The city is currently involved in negotiations with Austin Community College for plans to build the rec center on land the college will continue to own.

Back in June, during the council's annual retreat, Leander Mayor Troy Hill argued he "would like to halt any more discussion about a YMCA for a while and look at an option for the private-public aspect and see if we can come up with something better for a lot less money."

The council cannot use the citizen-approved bond funds for any usage outside of what was passed on the ballot, but the council could instead use those funds to repay the bond debt if they choose an alternative option for the Rec Center.

During the retreat, Hill criticized the fact  the city would have to cover any costs the YMCA didn’t cover with its memberships, arguing a private business would instead generate property taxes for the city. Council member Michelle Stephenson retorted that the point of the YMCA’s nonprofit model is so they are able to provide more affordable services, and so the YMCA has options for working with families that couldn’t afford a membership.

Premier Athletic Complex, which  already has a 42,000-square-foot athletic facility located in Leander, is a new possible public-private partnership option for the council. When Hill originally discussed his idea, he was heavily advocating for the Hill Country Indoors sports facility in Bee Cave.

Because the presentation will occur during the briefing workshop, the council will not take any action during Thursday's meeting.

Other agenda items

In other agenda items later during the regular council meeting, the council will discuss and potentially direct city staff to bring back rules and regulation changes regarding the city's  "street tree requirements for the right-of-way."

The council will separately discuss and potentially direct staff regarding a different agenda item regarding the city's "off-street parking requirements for multi-family complexes."

Despite the council's recently adopted Council Rules and Procedures requiring council members to submit a written summary of the intent of an agenda item and provide any supporting documents, these two items only had a brief sentence on the agenda. As a result, it is unclear what is the major issues prompting the discussion nor what the focus of the discussion will be on Thursday.

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