Proposed West Lake Hills sports complex raises opposition


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 7:40 PM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- Western Hills Little League has begun fundraising for a 51-acre sports complex.
The organization has been planning the sports park for the past two years, however, some people are concerned over how this large complex would affect several neighborhoods. The project involves land off River Hills road in West Lake Hills.

The Eanes Independent School District owns the property and is leasing it to Western Hills Little League.

Plans for the sports complex include eight baseball fields, four tennis courts, four multi-use courts -- for soccer, football and lacrosse -- a swimming pool and four basketball courts.

You'd get to the complex via River Hills Road off FM 2244, but if you drive there now, you'll see signs of opposition.
Josh Farley is the vice president of the River Hills Neighborhood Association. He says the potential for traffic congestion, safety and environmental impact are some of the major concerns.

"We suspect that the scale of this project would imply very serious impacts to these residential neighborhoods, primarily through light and noise," Farley said.

Farley says a large area of trees would be removed and a hill flattened.

"This site is a basically on top of a Trinity aquifer on a cliff overlooking Lake Austin," Farley said.

President-elect of Western Hills Little League, Chris Ellis, says they've made changes to their plan over the last 18 months to accommodate residents' concerns. They will limit how late lights and the PA system can be on, plus no alcohol will be allowed.

"We've incorporated the neighbors' thoughts into that lease," Ellis said.

Scott Urdahl lives near the proposed sports complex and says it's a needed resource in the area.

"We ended up driving all the way to downtown for some of the sports activities," Urdahl said.

Western Hills Little League began the project in search of fields to fit their needs.

Ellis says seven other youth sports groups in the area now endorse what he calls a community project, and are far along on the project. They'll start applying for permits in January.

Those opposing the project have put together two websites:

To learn more about Western Hills Little League, click here.