by BRAD ROLLINS
WIMBERLEY — Residents are invited to two open house meetings this week to review progress so far on the Central Wimberley Master Plan, intended as a general guide to future development in the rustic village’s downtown area.
The meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 and Friday June 13 at the Wimberley Community Center, 14068 Ranch Road 12.
As a supplement to the eight-year-old citywide comprehensive master plan, the Central Wimberley document focuses on areas between Cypress Creek and the Blanco River including properties along Ranch Road 12, Ranch Road 3237 and the Old Kyle Road.
“There will be growth and development — we just want an open dialogue on what folks in town want to see happen in the downtown area,” Mayor Steve Thurber said.
After three terms as a city council member, Thurber was elected mayor in May on the same day Wimberley voters rejected — by a margin of three-to-one — the proposed sale of $2.85 million in general obligation bonds to fund repairs to many of the city’s 80 neglected streets and to commission a drainage study.
The bonds package’s spectacular failure was not a statement by Wimberley residents that they would prefer to live with ragged streets rather than take steps that might have the effect of smoothing the way for development, Thurber said, dismissing a hypothesis posed by a reporter. Instead, people generally did not think they had enough input on how the package of proposed improvements was assembled and, in addition, some voters were concerned about the fiscal impact to the tiny town, the mayor said. Repaying debt on the roads projects would have required the city council to levy the first property tax since the city was incorporated 11 years ago.
Thurber said the newly-seated city council will address the city’s infrastructure problems but will court public input in an attempt to develop a plan that can sustain widespread popular support. In addition, Thurber said he expects the council to begin the process of updating the 2008 comprehensive plan in September, also with extensive public input.
On the whole, however, the new mayor said his vision for the city’s future is not dramatically different than that of his predecessor, former Mayor Bob Flocke who held the post for two terms but did not seek a third this year.
“I don’t think it’s a major departure. I think there will be the continuation of achieving the goal of maintaining Wimberley as Wimberley. There may have been some differences on how to do that, but I think the common goals are the same. It certainly isn’t a radical change,” Thurber said. “We know who we are, but we want to keep it.”
Creation of the Central Wimberley Master Plan is being overseen by Design Workshop, an Austin-based urban design consulting group, and its subcontractors, Austin-based Black + Vernooy Architecture and Houston-based Binkley & Barfield Consulting Engineers. Thurber said he expects the Central Wimberley master plan to be finalized by late August.
COVER: PHOTO by SEAN MALLOY. MERCURY ILLUSTRATION by BRAD ROLLINS.