Western Travis County demographics shifting, census data says
From 2000 to 2010, the Western Travis County area has seen some of the highest percentage of growth in population in Austin. The City of Austin itself saw the third-biggest rise nationally in population percentage during the same span and the highest percentage growth nationally from 2010 to 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The under-18 population of Western Travis County residents rose as well, reaching 13,354, according to 2010 census data. The rise in youth population coupled with a focus on a healthy lifestyle has spurred a rise in youth sports complexes in the region.
“I think [population growth] is something we can lose sight of because we see it, we experience it on a daily basis, but it is still pretty remarkable,” Austin Demographer Ryan Robinson said. “I think we have only seen the beginning of growth and development in the Austin area.”
One reason that the youth population in Western Travis County may be on the rise is the number of families with children is decreasing in the Austin urban core.
According to census data, the families with children portion of the Austin urban core was 32 percent in 1970 and dropped to 14 percent in 2000. This, coupled with the fact that the share of families with children in the Lakeway/Westlake are is greater than 40 percent, gives the area a high population of under-18 residents, Robinson said.
Robinson said that families are moving from those centralized neighborhoods to a more suburban setting and are replaced by individuals. This is a pattern that will continue going forward, he said.
“Lake Travis is surrounded by a relatively high production of subdivisions,” Robinson said. “There is a strong development of suburban growth. What we used to consider ‘out a ways’ has been redefined. Ten years ago these places would have been considered too far out to be viable subdivisions, but we are changing the way we view ‘out a ways.’”
In April, Avila Creative Soccer—one of Austin’s first private skills training facilities—opened a new location in the Oak Grove Plaza at 1503 N. RR 620, Bldg. 2, Ste. D, in Lakeway.
“There is a growing need for personal training of youth soccer players,” said Eryck Avila, owner of Avila Creative Soccer.
Soccer is not the only sport following the trend. Nitro Swimming has opened two Austin locations in the past five years, one in Cedar Park and another at 15506 D W. Hwy. 71 in Bee Cave.
“We recognized the potential growth of the area,” said Mike Koleber, owner and head coach of Nitro Swimming. “Historically, the Summer Olympics give a bump to [the number of participants] to swim programs. However, we continue to add kids to our programs each month, and that is a testament to our great families.”
The Lake Travis Youth Association has also noticed the trend and is trying to plan accordingly, former LTYA President Chad Wilbanks said.
“We have certainly felt [the growth] in the Lake Travis area,” Wilbanks said. “We have had phenomenal growth in our area, and it is partly because of our good school systems.”
Wilbanks said that the increase in young families in the Lake Travis area even caused the school district to move from a 4A to a 5A designation.
“With more young families coming to the area, the more families want to be part of our organization,” Wilbanks said.
With a growing number of youth sports organizations already in existence, the owners of Hill Country Indoor are following the trend by building a 110,000-square-foot indoor sports facility to accommodate the rise in the youth population in the Bee Cave area.
From 2000 to 2010, the population of the Bee Cave area grew by 498 percent, according to census data. In that same time, the median age in Bee Cave dropped from
57 to 36.
“[The age drop] can be attributed to the huge success our schools have displayed in both sports and education,” Hill Country Indoor spokeswoman, PJ Todd said.
With the growth of the Bee Cave community, there is not enough athletic space to ensure that children have the opportunity to thrive physically, Todd said.
Hill Country Indoor provides space for training and exercise with two indoor soccer fields, three indoor basketball courts and outdoor field space.
“The need for athletic space is obvious,” Todd said. “There is also a need to provide safety and security, which is why we offer all our sports under one roof. It’s no secret that we love our sports in Bee Cave, so we want to provide the safest, most secure and convenient environment possible.”
Future issues with youth sports
With the increase in young families moving to the Lake Travis area, Wilbanks said he is concerned about the possibility of being forced to turn children and families away from youth sports programs.
“Right now we have about 4,700 kids running on just shy of 20 acres,” he said. “We are struggling with space right now. If we don’t get more land and larger fields, we are going to ultimately have to turn children away from our programs, and that is the last thing we want to do.”