Bastrop News

Bastrop charts a course for 2015 and beyond

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With the turn of the calendar into 2015, the city of Bastrop is moving ‘full speed ahead’ on a host of major projects: a new meter system for utilities; establishing a blueprint for the future look of the greater downtown area, discussion of possibly expanding city police and fire personnel, and getting ready for the start of construction of one of two more Hwy. 71 overpasses. (But motorists will still have several exits ramps to ‘come on down’ into one of Texas’ most historic cities!)

As Bastrop’s population nears 8,000 (the county’s is approximately 76,000), it is encountering a vigorous expansion – some might say almost explosion – of business development. New residential areas including the large XS Ranch residential development are also underway. Major retailers, such as Academy, Best Buy, PetCo and Spec’s have opened stores in the large-scale Burleson Crossing off of Hwy. 71 on the west side of the city, while smaller businesses have also taken root throughout Bastrop.

New Water, Electric Meters – One of the ways the city is modernizing is replacing 5,700 water and electric meeters for 5,700 residential and business customers with a system called Advanced Meter Infrastructure. Residents and businesses customers who are currently served by Bastrop Power & Light – the city owned-and operated utility – are getting the new meters. The meters will now be able to be read by the city’s Utility Customer Service employees at the main City Hall building. Previously, three city meter readers had to physically go out into the city areas to read meters. And “old and antiquated meters” are getting replaced, too. “This is providing a long-term solution” for customer benefit and ease for city employees, City Finance Director Karla Stovall said. She explained that meters can become less accurate as they age, and that water meters have a useful life of 12 to 15 years after which the accuracy may diminish. AquaMetric is the main contractor hired by the city to oversee the project, with subcontractor Utiliuse actually performing the meter installations.

The ‘Look’ of Downtown Area – The city is looking to preserve the historical nature of its downtown area while at the same time ensuring that any future building in the greater downtown area, including bordering neighborhoods, complement each other. The idea is called “Form Based Code” and is being implemented by many cities across the U.S. Nearby neighborhoods to Bastrop’s downtown contain over 100 historic and unique homes. In February 2010, Bastrop was named a “Distinctive Destination” by the National Trust for Historic. City officials aim to keep up that “distinctiveness” with the code.

City Planner Melissa McCollum explained that Form Based Code basically aims to deter a hodge-podge look in the greater downtown area in favor of one with a visual flow and attractiveness. The “form” refers to meshing the look – or “form” – and use of current buildings, sidewalks, streets and other downtown infrastructure with whatever new-building proposals come in the near and distant future for the city. The process provides a “transition to existing neighborhoods.” The city has been holding public meetings for a year on the subject and is close to having it adopted by the Bastrop City Council. Details of the proposed code are on the City’s website: (click on Departments – then “Planning Department,” – “Form Based Code.”)

City Council Retreat – Many of the city’s ongoing projects and future goals/plans were discussed on Jan. 31 during a full-day retreat held by the Bastrop City Council at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort. The meeting was open to the public. It was led by City Manager Mike Talbot and attended by city department heads and staff. Some of the items discussed at the retreat were a possible bond election for November, plans to help Talbot with his heavy workload, and potentially augmenting the police and fire departments. All told, there were 30-plus discussion items on the lengthy agenda. Mayor Ken Kesselus moved the meeting along at a swift but considered pace so that all items got a full discussion. Attendees also enjoyed excellent food and service by Hyatt Lost Pines staff. Some of the items talked about were include comparison of staffing levels/pay to similar cities, staff “accomplishments.” The minutes/summary of the Retreat can be read at: (go to Departments – City Council – Agenda/Minutes).

Hwy. 71 Work – Bastrop’s increasing highway traffic will get some relief with preliminary designs and work already underway by TxDOT for an overpass at Hwy. 71 and Loop 150 East, next to Tahitian Village. Eventually, a second overpass is slated for Hwy. 71 at Hwy. 95. Stay tuned for more details from the city of Bastrop.

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