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2012-04-19

Quorum present for EDC hearing

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The board of the Bandera Economic Development Corporation held a public hearing on 16 projects the EDC plans to work on this fiscal year. Unlike a similar hearing held in December of 2011 on the same subject, this time a quorum of members attended. Only board member Charlie Fellows was absent.

The sixteen projects listed on the hearing agenda were:

• Honor Veterans Event

• Celebrate Bandera

• Frontier Times Museum - Living History Project

• City Park Improvements

• Medina River Cleanup

• City Park Road

• Playground Equipment/ Property

• Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association

• Foot Bridge

• Welcome Signs

• Western Heritage Park Plaque

• Park Equipment for Upkeep of City Parks

• Heritage Park Upkeep

• Street Light Repair

• Concrete Road Inside Park

• Step on Main Street (OST)

Other than the agenda list, no other information was presented to the public by the board regarding any of these projects except what was revealed by questions from the public.

One of those questions elicited the information that the City Park Road project involves oiling the main road down the center of the park to control dust. The Concrete Road Inside Park project will provide for the concreting of the third roadway that goes down the slope to the lower level of the park next to the river.

The object is to control erosion.

Maggie Schumacher of Bandera questioned whether the footbridge over the creek next to the strip mall is a viable economic development project. Board member Don Clark explained that the bridge would be a recycled antique bridge and would "be a photo op for tourists in the city."

Clark and EDC Chairman Horst Pallaske said installing the decorative bridge would allow people to walk from the strip mall into town without having to walk on Highway 16.

Clark later remarked that the EDC had located a bridge, but it was no longer available.

Rilla Stephens of Bandera queried the qualification of the Celebrate Bandera, Living History Project and Cowboy Capital Rodeo Association for EDC funds. Pallaske explained that all of those events bring tourists into the community, saying, "They support the tourist industry."

Several people wondered why some EDC projects seem to take a long time to accomplish. Robert Koimn, a county resident, said his records indicated that "10 of the 16 projects" have been on the agenda for years.

Clark responded that many of the projects turn into complex issues. "Like the welcome sign. We've had a hard time finding a location... and the sidewalks... it's been hard getting permits [from the property owners who own the sidewalks on Main Street]," said Clark.

Pallaske said EDC representatives had "approached the owners about selling the sidewalks to us. Some were willing, but others were not."
The plan to add a step to the street edge of the sidewalks also appeared to be stymied by liability issues. As to handicapped accessibility, Clark reported, "TxDOT said we'd have to put the handicapped ramps [on Cypress and on Cedar] way around the corner."
EDC Director Joe Hearn added, "When we dredged behind the dam [in City Park], Don spent three years dealing with the various state entities to get it done."

The only other project that engendered a good deal of public inquisitiveness was the Playground Equipment-Property project.

Stephens asked bluntly, "Why do we need another kiddie park?"

Clark admitted that the EDC board has "an in-house disagreement about where it should go."

Residents who live in the area of the proposed park indicated they felt it would lower their property values.

Another resident said the playground would create problems with liability, security and safety.

Clark said, "I want to say that this board is very conservative. They do not waste the taxpayers' money."

Projects the EDC has accomplished include, among others, dredging the City Park dam for safety, erection of Heritage Park with public restrooms, erection of two City Park pavilions, providing electricity in City Park, completing sidewalk improvements on the southeast side of Main Street, adding lights on Main Street, providing the decorative ovals for the street light poles, and purchasing parking lots at the corner of 11th and Cedar streets.