Where's the Vision?

RECEIVED Wed., May 12, 2004

Dear Editor:
   Thanks for reporting on the rollout of the Envision Central Texas regional plan and noting the commitment of its 73-member board of directors to work with local decision-makers to encourage implementation ["ECT Serves Up Its Vision," News, May 7].
   So just how does this square with the simultaneous actions by our transportation planners, AISD, and the LCRA? The toll road agency, Chamber of Commerce, and Real Estate Council (all of whom are represented on the ECT Executive Board) want $2.2 billion worth of toll roads – the roads and tolls they will generate designed to serve and fund more sprawl. More than half of the "priority" toll projects totaling $770 million are located in the Barton Springs Watershed (which could be preserved for half that amount).
   Our Austin school board (also represented on the ECT Board) is considering a $450 million bond package designed entirely on the assumption that historic growth patterns will continue. Many observers believe the proposal again shortchanges existing schools while funding new schools in the hinterlands.
   LCRA General Manager Joe Beal, an ECT Executive Committee member, is racing to extend water lines out Hamilton Pool Road, Highway 71, RR 12, and Nutty Brown Road in complete disregard of ECT and in the face of overwhelming opposition from current rural residents and environmentalists. The sole purpose of these water system expansions is to serve suburban sprawl developers in the Barton Springs, Bee Creek, and Pedernales River watersheds.
   So where's the vision? Was ECT just a three-year greenwash for the Chamber, RECA, and the highway boys, as many suspected? Will the other ECT board members sit by silently (or pick up pompoms) while CAMPO, CTRMA, AISD, LCRA, and others dash off with billions of taxpayer dollars to feed hypersprawl?
Bill Bunch
Executive Director
Save Our Springs Alliance
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