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Cottonwood Shores adopts dark sky ordinance, hears park improvement updates

Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores

The new steps and added features leading into Lake Marble Falls from Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores. Courtesy photo by Andrea Stephens

The Cottonwood Shores City Council approved an ordinance to pursue becoming a member of the International Dark-Sky Association during its regular meeting Oct. 21. 

Also, Parks and Recreation Chairwoman Andrea Stephens gave updates on improvements at Noah Thompson and Aspen parks, including a report on the new railing and stairs leading into the water at Noah Thompson Park. The next phase will address parking, she said. 

Becoming a member of the International Dark-Sky Association means a commitment to preserving and protecting dark skies through responsible lighting policies and public education. Councilor Roger Wayson presented the ordinance to the council several months ago. Before the Oct. 21 vote, Wayson gave a short slideshow about why he believes it’s valuable.

“Dark Skies isn’t doing away with lights,” he said. “We want to see the stars at night. It is using it in a smart way. We direct the light to where it needs to be.”

He noted that when a school district in San Antonio decided to turn off lights shining on large walls, graffiti stopped. The district began saving $160,000 annually in electricity, which didn’t include the additional savings from no longer having to repaint walls, he added. 

Wayson also reassured residents that the Cottonwood Shores Police Department would not become the “light gestapo” by fining people for turning on their lights. 

“The intent is to save what we have,” the councilor said as he wrapped up his presentation. 

“They’re not going to come and change the lights,” Mayor Don Orr said about public spaces. “As bulbs are damaged or burned out, they’ll be replaced under Dark Skies (procedures).”

Stephens then gave the latest updates on park improvements at Noah Thompson and Aspen parks.

“It’s an amazing change,” she said as she showed photos she took of the new steps into Lake Marble Falls. “It’s a great sunny spot, great fishing spot. It looks great.”

Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores
The old steps leading into Lake LBJ from Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores before improvements (above) were made. Courtesy photo

She also noted the mulch for the new playground equipment at Aspen Park has been received, but the border to keep the mulch in place hasn’t arrived yet. Playground equipment, which was bought with a $22,235 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative, is scheduled to be delivered at the end of October. City leaders also plan to use the grant money to address parking and hope to install a water fountain. They will have to wait and see how much money is left over from other projects before deciding when to move forward on the fountain.

The new name plates for each park also are now in place.

“They’re powder coated and meant to last a long time,” Hughes said. “It’s five signs at about $2,000 total. That really, really was an inexpensive improvement.” 

New signs at Cottonwood Shores parks
The new signs for the city of Cottonwood Shores’ parks. Courtesy photo

Hughes also gave an update on the construction of the new TXB convenience store

He and City Secretary Bobby Herrin have been in conversations with TXB’s development team out of Atlanta to finalize utility access. The team has been working with the Texas Department of Transportation regarding drive access points and drainage and the LCRA to be in compliance with its procedures, Hughes said.

“They have to go in and prepare the soil for pressure and foundation,” he said. “They still have to dig to put in gas tanks and water retention.”

TXB hasn’t pulled a construction permit, but that should happen at any time, Hughes continued.

“We haven’t received any indication of any slowdown,” he said. “They were anxious to get started on the ground preparation.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story and photo reported the steps at Noah Thompson Park led into Lake LBJ. It is actually Lake Marble Falls. DailyTrib.com apologizes for the error.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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