Austin (Sept. 2, 2008) – With population exploding in Central Texas, planning is essential. Now is the time to think ahead and plan for growth, infrastructure needs, economic vitality and water resources, in a way that maintains what is so special about this region. Comal County Commissioner Jay Millikin, New Braunfels City Council Member Kathleen Krueger and the Citizens’ Alliance for Smart Expansion are calling on regional experts to examine techniques and options for growing in a balanced way.
On September 18 the two officials, along with the New Braunfels-based group will co-host a sustainable growth symposium in New Braunfels, a city set in the already rapidly growing Hill Country.
“This is the first event of this kind ever in New Braunfels,” Krueger said. “Nothing like this has ever been done here and this is a great time to do it.”
Krueger hopes that the forum will give residents of the Hill Country a place to discuss and brainstorm ideas for the conservation and sustainability of Hill Country natural resources.
“My goal would be to make people aware of the options we have as we grow rapidly and not to rush into decisions that could be detrimental to our community’s future,” Krueger said.
Krueger and the alliance point out the Hill Country’s fragile ecosystem as a reason this conference is especially important.
“We are a very special place in Texas,” Krueger said. “There is no reason to sell ourselves short by not planning ahead.”
The symposium will feature a panel discussion as well as presentations from some of the foremost planners in the industry, including Scott Polikov of Gateway Planning Group; J. Robert Anderson, designer of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; and Tom Loomis, president of Loomis Austin.
“We knew we needed a planner, someone familiar with land conservation, and someone knowledgeable on water resources,” said April Hughes, a member of the Citizens’ Alliance for Smart Expansion. “We also knew they needed to be from Texas. We wanted people who were familiar with our area; it’s unique attributes and planning challenges.”
Polikov, the first of the pannelists and a town planner, will begin the symposium with a presentation on the importance of good planning for the Hill Country in order to sustain the region’s quality of life. He will discuss topics from regionalism to urbanism to the proper design of roadways and the economics of transportation.
“There is no comprehensive plan for the region that covers multiple jurisdictions,” Polikov said. “This event could be the first step in developing that plan.”
Anderson, a landscape architect, will then demonstrate how careful planning can preserve precious natural resources while increasing population density in the Hill Country’s already growing cities.
Loomis, who specializes in civil engineering and water resources, will also discuss the balancing of growth, quality development, conservation, water sustainability and the continued high quality of our watersheds.
Krueger and the Citizens’ Alliance for Smart Expansion hope to host another symposium in the future.
“This is the beginning of a dialogue between citizens, decision-makers and developers to give us a jumping off point for future discussions,” Hughes said. “We see this as getting our foot in the water, and we would like to offer people more opportunities like this in the future.”
The event is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 18. at the Seekatz Opera House located at 265 West San Antonio Street in New Braunfels. This event is free and open to the public, with refreshments provided.