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Drainage & pickups & parks - oh, my!

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Despite snarking from naysayers, plans for moving the City of Bandera forward are in the works - and it's about time.

City council again addressed infrastructure, including drainage issues, during a budget workshop on Thursday, July 26. According to City Administrator Mike Cardenas, municipal engineer Rudy Klein said that installing water pipes to alleviate ongoing drainage problems along 12th Street was not feasible.

Instead, he recommended installing additional concrete box culverts and lowering them sufficiently to forestall flooding. Additionally, all the culverts will be covered.

More effective drainage

Those previously installed along 12th Street, including ones in front of properties owned by Margo Denke, MD and Johnny Boyle, would also be included in the project. "To be effective, they all have to be at the correct elevation," Cardenas said.

Unfortunately, prices for the concrete culverts have risen to $656 each from $500, when they were first installed in 2010. Cardenas estimated that 26 culverts would be needed to complete the drainage project. Labor costs have not been determined yet, but an outside company will install the culverts.

The re-do became necessary because insufficient funds had been allotted to do the 2010 project correctly.

"Drainage will occur through the boxes and along the top for any overflow," Cardenas said. "Residents can park on them and curbs will be eliminated. Most of the drainage, about 92 percent, will be carried by the boxes."

Although not in the cards for the city at this time, a complete drainage project would cost $3 million, Cardenas noted. "Rudy also recommended we look into purchasing property for a new wastewater facility," he said. To that end, he planned to ask grant writer Margaret Harding and Klein to attend the next budget workshop, slated for 6 pm, Thursday, August 9. Klein, Cardenas said, would discuss water infrastructure, drainage and a five-year plan for the wastewater facility, as well as proposed sources of future water for the city.

Law enforcement expectations

Regarding his expectations for the municipal law enforcement department, City Marshal Charlie Hicks was asked to bring a "wish list" to a future meeting. Cardenas noted that pieces of equipment are outdated, various vehicles "need help" and basic supplies need to be restocked.

Because the department seemed to have a surfeit of firearms, Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher suggested "selling some of the guns - legally." Hicks said that surplus weapons could be disposed of legally.

City officials recently discovered that a former city policeman had apparently "given" a shotgun to someone who had rendered services to the department. The firearm has since been returned to the city.

To recoup some losses, Hicks suggested selling the department's Impala and Explorer at auction after stripping the vehicles of law enforcement radios and camera systems. Additionally, Hicks told council that a pickup truck seized during a drug bust would be outfitted for law enforcement use. "I'll use the truck after we have the city marshal decal and insignia put on it," he said.

"We were told that couldn't be done," said Councilman Brandi Morgan.

"You might have been told that, but it wasn't true," Hicks replied.

According to Cardenas, the 2006 pickup truck is still going strong with no signs of trouble. "It's gotten us to Austin and back a couple of times without any problems," he said. During this tenure with the city, former Police Chief Jim Eigner had apparently used the unmarked truck as a personal vehicle.

"Well, that's a good start for us, thank you," Morgan said.

Full speed ahead for park

Morgan also brought to council information about playground systems suitable for Bandera City Park. If members of the Economic Development Corporation weren't impressed with her efforts, city council certainly was.

"These catalogs show options for possible installations along a walkway path," Morgan explained. She added that "play trails" combined educational and entertainment components from nature, such as habitats, birds, rocks and bees, among others, for children. "I really like this concept. It's a more affordable alternative and the components can be purchased separately. Most pieces are under $1,000."

She also suggested placing small benches in front of each educational piece as well as an explanation of what was being taught.

"Rather than buying a complete set, we can mix and match the pieces and save so much money," Morgan said. "We can also look for less expensive options. For example the educational signs add a lot to the concept, but cost $500 to $600 each. They could be made locally for much less."

Councilman Nancy Montgomery felt that, with proper recognition, local businesses might be inclined to donate a component to the play trail.

"This has been a very positive discussion," Schumacher said. "Let's do this in sections so we can get something done this year, then carry it forward."

Where's the plans?

When a question regarding electricity placement throughout the park came up, council seemed surprised to learn that the EDC had paid nearly $6,000 in March 2009 for an electrical schematic. When asked what happened to it, Cardenas replied, "Nothing was ever done with it. I think it was put on a shelf." He also indicated a second study had also been done.

"We need to develop a five-year plan for the park," Schumacher said. "I think we should find the plans and get started."

When someone asked about a park map, Councilman John Hegemier said, "The Friends of the Park may have done that study and I think it's been in my office at the library for years.

When you said the word 'map,' a light bulb went on."

Before the workshop ended, Hegemier came up with at least one of the "missing" park studies and maps, ensuring that something tangible would get started shortly.

"I'm very enthused about this. I think it'll be great," Morgan said.