AUSTIN (KXAN) - Certain trails in Austin could soon be open 24 hours a day with no curfew. The Austin City Council will vote to approve the changes Thursday. Police and others are concerned about safety.
The three trails in consideration are the Hike and Bike trail, Shoal Creek Greenbelt and the Johnson Creek Greenbelt.. Opening the trails 24 hours a day is popular among regular users.
"I think it's a good idea," said frequent Hike and Bike Trail user Laura Kolstad, "A lot of people use this trail."
Eric Brown is at the Shoal Creek Greenbelt a lot, and says having certain trail open 24 hours would be beneficial.
"People who work odd jobs at odd times--they would have an opportunity to use the trails," Brown said.
If council approves to waive curfews, keeping those trails open overnight, the next question is safety.
"I think it's a good idea if they're going to have security or some sort of police securing the premises," said Rocky Molina, who uses the Hike and Bike Trail regularly.
That's the recommendation from city staff and Austin Police. The trails right now have minimal lighting and no patrol to speak of. If they were open overnight, police worry it could be an invitation for crime.
"I guarantee you one thing," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, "We will have sexual assaults, we will have aggravated assaults, and we will have crime occurring. Shame on us if we don't have police officers there trying to prevent it."
The city projects it would cost more than $3 million in overtime per year to have APD officers patrolling. Some think that's an extreme step--at least at first.
"I don't think that's necessary," said Kolstad, "I guess if there was a lot of violence and things happening, maybe they could reassess or reevaluate the risk."
Council member Mike Martinez agrees, suggesting no additional patrol.
"We looked at the city of Denver, who opened their entire trail system 24 hours a day without adding any additional public safety measure, and didn't see additional crime," Martinez said.
The city also is considering Park Rangers to patrol the area. That would be less expensive that APD patrols, but still adds a sense of security.
About two years ago the City of Austin told KXAN it would complete an installation of lights on the Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake.
The Parks and Recreation Department says it has finished about 70 percent of the final round, because they've hit some hurdles along the way.
At first, the lights were in three small clusters on the north side of the lake. Then the city's funding in 2010 spread more lights on both sides.
Officials told KXAN back then, they would be done by December, but installation took a little longer. A few near MoPac and Austin High School need solar panels before they're ready.
University of Texas System regents say they're planning to discuss the employment of Austin campus President Bill Powers, who has sparred with lawmakers and critics over his job in recent years.
Just in time for the holidays, Texas is making sure everyone remembers that wishing someone "Merry Christmas" is now protected by law in its public schools.
A 8-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Because of her position as Travis County District Attorney, the deputies who arrested, booked, and restrained Rosemary Lehmberg last April admit they were worried her threats were legitimate.
American Airlines has emerged from bankruptcy protection and US Airways culminated its long pursuit of a merger partner after the two completed their deal Monday to create the world's biggest airline.
On Tuesday, Capital Metro will roll out it's new MetroRapid fleet and run multiple tests gearing up for its January 2014 debut.