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Council puts brakes on Pacelli street closing

AUSTIN — A proposal to vacate Third Avenue Northwest between Austin Pacelli's high school and grade school was stopped dead in its tracks Monday.

The Austin City Council voted 4-3 to not send the plan to a committee to work on details. Voting against the proposal were Jeff Austin, Michael Jordal, Judy Enright and Jeremy Carolan. Voting to send it a committee were Roger Boughton, Steven King and Janet Anderson.

The school proposed to take over the avenue so it could create a campus-like atmosphere at the schools near the downtown. As it stands, 330 students have to cross the street a few times a day to get to the cafeteria, gym or music rooms, said Pacelli President Jim Hamburge.

He and other Pacelli officials said closing the avenue was a matter of safety and would make it easier for drivers where the avenue meets Fourth Street because the avenue becomes part of the street for a 100 feet or so then makes a 90-degree turn.

They said one part of the avenue could be left open for traffic to get to the church parking lot and for emergency vehicles.


City Engineer Steven Lang said the proposal would save the city some money because it wouldn't have to upgrade the street but it would also have to spend $150,000 to $200,000 for a new stoplight nearby.

Opponents of the project said they didn't want the city to spend tax dollars to help the school, wanted to keep the street open and said the school could put up temporary barricades during school hours if safety was an issue.

Rick Brown, who lives nearby, said he wants to continue using the avenue to get to the downtown. He doesn't recall any children being hurt. "I am highly against" it, he said.

Four members of the council agreed with those who opposed the closing and put the brakes on the idea.

Afterward, Hamburge said he was disappointed because the council didn't even allow a committee to be formed to further investigate the proposal. The city has vacated streets for the new middle school and the high school to create more of a campus, he said. Why not Pacelli?

When asked if he would be back with the idea, he said, "In all likelihood, yes."

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