Pine Forest Walking Trails Proposal
REQUEST FOR COMMENTS
Please send feedback to PineForestBastrop@gmail.com.
PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP WALKING TRAILS
Unit 6, Pine Forest Subdivision
Bastrop, Texas 78602
Issue #1: Pedestrians vs Motorists
Those living in both Pine Forest and Tahitian Village, subdivisions in Bastrop and Bastrop County, often enjoy walking their dogs or simply going for a stroll on or along our residential streets.
Whereas this would normally not be an issue, with the dramatic increase in our local population, and therefore number of drivers, coupled with the topography of these streets, which are narrow, hilly and with curves that can greatly limit visibility – walking on the street, especially where there is a high volume of traffic, has become risky for both.
Unfamiliarity with Texas Law
There is currently an ongoing debate between pedestrians and motorists in the Pine Forest and Tahitian Village Subdivisions with some pedestrians claiming right of way and at times refusing to move out of the lane of traffic as vehicles approach – or even to turn around to acknowledge a vehicle is following behind them. This is especially unsafe when pedestrians are distracted or when there is a group of individuals walking their dogs or pushing strollers on the street.
Briar Forest is Especially Dangerous
Among the most perilous of the thoroughfares for dog walking is Briar Forest. As this beautiful stretch of road was once closed to through-traffic, some residents have had a difficult time adjusting to the change and still walk their dogs in the way of oncoming traffic. On more than one occasion, despite the double yellow line, dog walkers have refused to step aside to allow vehicles to pass, forcing drivers to go around them. They do not seem to understand that some streets, especially in Pine Forest and Tahitian Village, are unsafe for pedestrians or bicyclists, regardless of a driver's speed.
Issue #2: Unit 6 now a Destination for Partiers and ATVs
In recent months, considerable damage has occurred to the terrain in the undeveloped area of Unit 6, with a stark increase in calls with reports of ATVs, perhaps perpetuated by social media. Beyond the recent influx of ATVs, for decades this secluded spot in Pine Forest has served as the location for parties and overnight camping along with campfires, trash dumping, etc. Recently there were reports of gunfire, which is strictly prohibited in the area.
This issue has grown to the extent the Pine Forest POA contacted the City of Bastrop Police Department seeking approval to place LED signage on Briar Forest at the main entrance to Mauna Loa. This effort has proven to be effective in preventing people from accessing Mauna Loa, either driving trucks or ATVs; however, with the sign now removed, muddy tracks have reappeared along Mauna Loa from Briar Forest to Tahitian Drive.
The POA Board has ordered permanent signage to be placed at the three entrances to the undeveloped area of Unit 6. Meanwhile, people continue to gather in the more secluded spots to party, camp out and, as a result, there is a large amount of trash, including broken glass, left behind. Adding to the problem are those who trespass into Unit 6 to deposit household trash or to dump items – from furniture to appliances – at this otherwise scenic location.
OUR PROPOSED SOLUTION
Dedicate a portion of Unit 6 for a walking trail. As the undeveloped area of Unit 6 is now officially closed to all vehicles (other than to emergency vehicles), why not allow people to walk their dogs here? This would be a win-win-win-win as:
1) Drivers on Briar Forest could, once again, drive the speed limit of 30 mph without as much worry about hitting a pedestrian or dog.
2) Dog walkers and others out for a stroll could walk along the beautiful, quiet trails without fear of being hit by a car.
3) People who once used Unit 6 for four-wheeling, partying with friends or camping would be much less likely to do so if the area is no longer secluded, especially if gates are installed to prevent their entry.
4) Unit 6 Property Owners would appreciate the improvements made to the area.
We believe a walking trail would be well received by Pine Forest residents, especially those who live on or near Briar Forest. But first, we must do some cleanup. Mauna Loa, for example, has deep holes due to damage from off-road vehicles. Dog walkers may not want to take the chance of their dogs getting wet or muddy, or slipping down a steep embankment.
Should We Transform Unit 6 into Walking Trails?
A Two-Phase Approach
To diminish the danger caused not only by dog walkers in the street, but also drivers disregarding the speed limit, while combating the destruction caused by those who wish to use the area for illicit purposes, the Pine Forest POA proposes a two-phase approach:
First, we ask for help to restore and repurpose Mauna Loa to Pine Oak Drive as well as Pine Oak Drive to create a safe path for dog walkers parallel to Briar Forest. This would fulfill the immediate need for a safe path for dog walkers who reside on or near Briar Forest. See Exhibit A.
Second, as time and as budgets allow, we would like your help to restore and repurpose the rest of Mauna Loa to create a safe walking path for residents on or near West Kaanapali and Keanahalululu Lane, which has become a popular street for dog walking despite the ever-increasing number of speeders along this busy stretch of road. Again, see Exhibit A.
To accomplish this goal, the Pine Forest POA (PFPOA) may ask the City of Bastrop to assist in the development of these walking trails. The PFPOA would be open to whatever financial arrangement is agreeable to both parties. Perhaps the City could contribute manpower and equipment while the PFPOA covers the cost of materials. The Tahitian Village Property Owners Association (TVPOA) is also invited to contribute, whether with funding or through volunteering, as Tahitian Village residents would be welcome to use the trails.
Throughout the process, the PFPOA would coordinate events for volunteers to pick up trash and to haul away items which have been discarded in the more secluded areas of Unit 6. See Exhibit B.
Beyond the creation of these designated paths, a thorough cleanup of the area and new signs would go a long way in sending a message that the area has been duly discovered and is no longer a secure haven for lawbreakers.
The PFPOA Board collectively feels this would be a way to enhance the quality of life for its property owners while also serve in a demonstrative way to ensure their safety. In turn, the PFPOA would gratefully acknowledge the City of Bastrop’s efforts on this website which is actively viewed by Pine Forest’s many property owners.
Best of all, Pine Forest and Tahitian Village residents seeking a safe and scenic place to walk their dogs would be able to experience the beauty of the trails created for their enjoyment through a coordinated effort between the City of Bastrop and the PFPOA.
But, first, we would like to hear from you. Please let us know your thoughts regarding the creation of walking trails in Unit 6. Send your comments to PineForestBastrop@gmail.com.