GEORGETOWN -- A heated debate in Georgetown Tuesday night as city council members decided whether to cut ties with a plan to build a rail line from there through Austin and San Marcos to San Antonio.
The city has been a member of the Lone Star Rail District since 2007 and has paid just under $50,000 a year for planning costs totaling $300,000.
In June, Georgetown City Council members voted by majority to end their membership with the Lone Star Rail District (LSRD), therefore forfeiting the $300,000.
The council cited concerns about the cost of constructing, maintaining, and operating the rail line as their reason for leaving the LSRD -- despite more than 40 people from the community expressing their support.
So, on Tuesday night, dozens of people spoke again, urging city council to reconsider their decision to leave the rail project.
“We need rail to connect us to San Antonio for medical reasons, for education reasons, and for entertainment reasons,” said community member and Georgetown business owner Mary Urban.
“Tonight we face a major decision, whether we're going to move Georgetown forward, or backward, and whether we're going to continue on the path of renewal or regrets,” said another community member.
One woman told the council “the economic loss for us will begin if we confirm that we don't want to be part of the rail system. This is, if you vote ‘no’ tonight."
Ultimately city council decided to reverse its original decision and vote ‘yes’ to a project connecting major Central Texas cities.
The vote was split 3-3 until Mayor George Garver broke the tie in favor of rejoining the Lone Star Rail District.
Now that Georgetown is once again a member, the city will continue to pay nearly $50,000 a year toward the environmental study.
Once the environmental study is complete, Lone Star Rail representatives tell KVUE construction is expected to begin in 3 to 4 years.