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12th Street's draining issues finally addressed

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6, Bandera City Council finally took action on a draining issue that had been front and center at previous budget workshops and meetings.

City council voted unanimously to correct drainage problems on 12th Street by installing box culverts underground to the tune of approximately $58,500. This is on top of the $80,000 spent in 2010 to alleviate drainage problems in that area - money that went literally "down the drain" as it turned out.

During a budget workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 4, City Administrator Mike Cardenas read from a letter sent by the municipality's consulting engineer Rudy Klein, referencing the drainage problems. Earlier, Klein had advocated installing concrete box culverts end to end underground along 12th Street as a temporary fix to the drainage dilemma. When the city embarks on an expensive drainage project, the concrete culverts would have to be lowered to the correct elevation.

The underground culverts would allow residents to reclaim yards and alleviate flooding, Klein wrote.

During an earlier budget workshop, Don Clark had "challenged" Klein's recommendation, feeling the problems could be solved by installing plastic pipes along 12th Street and channeling the excess water into a detention pond.

Addressing Clark's recommendations, Klein noted that if pipes were the answer, they would have to be 42 inches in diameter and made from concrete. However, installing the large pipes would make the side of the street on which affected houses and businesses are located approximately 15 inches higher than the current elevation. On the other hand, box culverts would be flush with the property line, making the road igher.

"Rudy recommended using 5-feet by 2-feet concrete culverts due to the elevation of adjacent houses," Cardenas said. He also reiterated that the price of $800 per concrete culvert would only remain in effect until Friday, Sept. 7.

Currently, Cardenas said, the manufacturer has the correct forms and castings available. "If we wait until later, the forms would have to be re-cast, increasing the price considerably," he added.

Since the city does not have the necessary equipment, Cardenas estimated it would cost approximately $1,500 to install each culvert, making the 12th Street fix cost approximately $58,500.

A Texas Department of Transportation intersection project at the intersection of Highway 173 North and 12th Street now funnels rain run-off from the area of the Bandera Cemetery and dumps it onto 12th Street.

"In 2010, Rudy's recommendations were not followed on 12th Street because of (perceived) lack of money," said Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher. "That's why we're having these problems now."

Major Chris Barnard of the United States Marine Corps and his wife, Natalie, own a B&B, Magnolia House, on 12th Street. "I realize these problems started under a previous administration, but we've been dealing with them for three years," he said. "There are legal ramifications to the open ditch that's there now. Our property value has decreased and liability has increased."

The Barnards had driven 800 miles from Kansas to address the council during the budget workshop. "Please don't take this as a threat, but we are done compromising and listening to empty promises," Barnard said. "You won't be talking to us anymore on this matter. You'll be talking to our attorney."

Resident Pete Martinez asked if the underground culvert installation would result in a wider road.

"When the curbs are removed the road will be wider," Cardenas said. Once removed, the curbs would be salvaged for another project.

According to Cardenas, once the council gave the okay to purchase the box culverts, installation could begin immediately.

Noting, "It's important to do what's right for the two blocks on 12th Street," Schumacher said she and Cardenas would meet with residents and business owners and explain about the project.

Cardenas said, "That was another problem with the earlier drainage project. No one talked to anyone until people started complaining."

Since the project would likely be over $50,000, Cardenas indicated he would call local excavation companies for bids, including the Chastain, Teich and Anderwald companies. "If I reach out too far, say to Hondo, Kerrville and San Antonio, the mobilization fee will increase the cost," he explained.

"We have the funds in the current budget to do this project," Schumacher said. "We have the means to make this a reality."

"The right thing to do is to fix it now. We have the money," Councilman Brandi Morgan said.

Concurring, Cardenas said, "I'd like the project to be done this year. I didn't plug it into the 2012-2013 budget."

"I really appreciate (council) finally looking at this and taking some action," Martinez said.

And that's what council finally did two days later on Sept. 6. The project would need to be funded from both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budgets due to time constraints. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.