Help us put up a protective fence before home values start falling
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My name is Brian, and I am one of the homeowners on Erica Kaitlin Lane whose rear fence line touches Phase 1 of the Anderson Mill road demolition/expansion zone.
Less than a year ago, my wife, Mariel, and I made the emotional decision to uproot our budding family from south Austin and build our future in the Cedar Park community. Our motivating vision was to provide our 10-year-old and 8-month-old daughters with the best academic and social opportunities available in central Texas. We were fortunate enough to buy the very last house built in Westside Preserve, a neighborhood that impressed us with its variety of family-friendly comforts and blend of unique beauty with tranquility that is a rare find in the Austin-area market.
We had obvious apprehension about our home’s adjacency to Anderson Mill, although the house met so many of our “want-list” criteria that we gambled on the noise element, hoping it would eventually be tolerable. We also were put at ease by neighbors who alluded to information they had heard about future construction of a wall that would alleviate concerns of traffic noise, erratic drivers, and automobile lights. The sum of this information was enough for us to trust that the benefits would outweigh the inconveniences. We excitedly closed on our house the last week of May and began the process of settling into suburban life.
On January 11th of this year, I attended a meeting hosted by Westside residents who live on our street. The explicit purpose of the meeting was for Erica Kaitlin homeowners to become educated about the bond project’s impact on them, as well as to provide an open forum for us to voice critical questions and concerns. The session was led by a city project engineer and a representative of the company contracted to widen Anderson Mill. Together, they laid out the harsh details of just how adversely affected many of us would be. Since none of us was privy to official data points regarding the bond project up to this point, hearsay suggested that the road would extend to the edge of the government preserve on the opposite side of Anderson Mill. Contrary to that impression, we were shocked to learn that Anderson Mill would, in fact, be widened to within four feet of our fence line. If you’re not currently aware, this fence consists of a deficient, generic, picketed wooden enclosure that serves no material purpose other than to delineate a boundary – and this was to be regarded as acceptable for a community adjacent to a “main arterial roadway” for the city. Expectedly, the room buzzed with questions from residents about the prospect of a protective fence or wall to mitigate the risk of drunk, texting, and careless drivers crashing into properties, as well as to serve as a noise barrier from close-range traffic. When the answer was a blunt “no” from the engineer, many of us in the room became visibly upset – and rightfully so – as the gravity set in about what this would mean for our families’ safety and quality of living.
After two months into construction, I can attest that the traffic and industrial machinery noise inside our home – particularly in our master bedroom – is deafening. This intolerable commotion begins at 5:00 AM each day with a deluge of commuter automobiles and multi-axle trucks, followed by the thunder of excavators. For my wife and me, this has led to significant sleep distress, which has had a tremendous detrimental effect on our mental and physical health. Without question, such ill effects will substantially worsen for every person who lives along or near Anderson Mill as Phase 1 of the project nears completion. It will mean more traffic lanes (intended to accommodate more traffic) on a main arterial roadway that operates a literal arm’s length away from the fence line. Not only will this dramatically disrupt living conditions for our families – many of which consist of infants and young children who attend Westside Elementary – but the worth of our real estate investments will materially suffer, both in the context of appraisal and curb appeal. Moreover, when the marketability of homes on Erica Kaitlin and Gaspar Bend inevitably trends downward because of buyer apprehension to close-quarter traffic polluting the peace, then the unsavory ripples of this will be felt by all Westside homeowners in one form or another. In other words, we all have good reason to feel troubled about what this could mean for our home values.
Above all points of emphasis, the safety of our families is, and should always be, the primary concern. As such, I have taken it upon myself to persuade the city to implement temporary barriers during the project’s construction phase, and those barriers are now in place, as you may have observed. Additionally, I have met in person with Assistant City Manager to plead the case of the impacted residents. Following our discussion, this individual conceded the validity of my argument, and thus gave verbal and written commitment that he is actively collaborating with the project’s engineering firm on a redesign to address the safety component. Details are forthcoming.
What remains to be resolved are the unsettling repercussions of our houses’ increased proximity to the street, along with the influx in traffic volume that will accompany the project’s completion. For many families, what has already begun – and will endure for as long as they live here – is the loss of serenity for which they moved to Westside Preserve to enjoy. For this reason, I have diligently researched the most cost-efficient, high-quality and equitable solutions available to us. After consulting with several fence vendors, I have found a reputable local manufacturer of precast concrete with impeccable references (including our own property manager, Celeste Starr Schulz). Len Tesoro of Concretex, who has serviced many local HOAs, provided a bid that could not be touched by Superior Walls (Dallas) or Fencecrete (Austin/San Antonio). His cost of $67 per linear foot is tax free through the HOA; plus, it includes removal of the prior fence and full installation of the new one. This is, by far, the most cost-efficient option to alleviate our distress relating to road noise, satisfy our safety concerns, and elevate the visual attractiveness of Westside Preserve’s western border.
Therefore, on behalf of select residents of Erica Kaitlin Lane, I hereby petition the Westside HOA to allocate the necessary budget proceeds for financing the construction of an 8-foot concrete fence line for the eleven homes directly impacted by the Anderson Mill bond project. This fence will bring an aesthetic value with its “stonelook” concrete craftsmanship; yet more importantly, it will provide the requisite security, sound reduction, privacy, and long-term durability that residents deserve. In observing the many housing developments along Anderson Mill, nearly all of them - with Westside Preserve as the exception - has a rock, concrete, or masonry fence safeguarding the property. And nowhere else on Anderson Mill are the homes as near to the main road as are ours. Given this consideration, I hope that this HOA will follow precedent by granting our small stretch of real estate the same protective barriers that these other communities are afforded.
I have provided informational literature from Concretex for board members to review. Mr. Tesoro has already come onsite to survey the landscape and measure for an official quote, which I also have delivered to the HOA board.
In the spirit of collaboration, I request your patronage for the sake of our modest sect of dues-paying citizens to invest in this concrete wall. Doing so will yield massive tangible and intangible benefits for the entire community.
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