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2014-03-13

12th Street conveyance hits snag(s)

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

An agreement with the Frontier Times Museum and Bandera County Historical Commission for a transfer of city property on 12th Street has apparently hit a snag. The item was pulled from the agenda during the Friday, March 6, special meeting of Bandera City Council, pending a survey and other legal machinations.
According to Mayor Don Clark, the documents prepared by the city attorney were "incorrect" and he recommended postponing the item until a survey was completed. "I'll be more than happy to pay for the survey, but not until the process is a little farther along," said George Sharman, chairman of the Old Jail Committee. The committee is comprised of members of the Bandera County Historical Commission and the Frontier Times Museum Board of Trustees.
Additionally, according to Clark, the document was constructed in such a way that the city seemed to be giving away property belonging to the county.
"Good catch," said Councilman Jim Hannah to the mayor. As it turned out, however, that was but one "good catch." Pesky state statutes must be followed when a municipality abandons a roadway. "There are processes in place for this kind of action," noted County Judge Richard Evans after the agenda item was postponed.
The statute governing this type of transaction is both short and remarkably succinct. According to Section 311.008 of the Texas Transportation Code: "The governing body of a general-law municipality by ordinance may vacate, abandon, or close a street or alley of the municipality if a petition signed by all the owners of real property abutting the street or alley is submitted to the governing body."
The salient phrase is "... if a petition signed by all the owners of real property abutting the street or alley is submitted to the governing body." To date, the city has apparently not contacted property owners on 12th Street in the area of the historical buildings, specifically the 1881 Bandera County Jail and 1868 courthouse and along the private travelway running beside the Western Trail Antiques Mall.
No doubt letters will be going out immediately to stakeholders identified by the State of Texas.
Once the petition is submitted and signed, the process of conveying the property can begin anew.
"In the normal procedure, every adjacent landowner needs to be notified," Sharman opined in an interview. "Probably public hearings need to be scheduled, too."
Sharman said that the contract drawn up by the municipal attorney had included "all the land that was on the drawing I had submitted to council earlier. A lot of that belonged to the county. Just a small portion is city property."
On Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, council agreed to convey municipal property on 12th Street to the Frontier Times Museum for a proposed historical renovation project. The undertaking would eventually include restoration of the jail and courthouse, as well as relocation of two other historical buildings to the area.
Sharman; Museum Executive Director Rebecca Norton; Bandera County Historical Commission Chairman Roy Dugosh; and historian Dave Burell made persuasive arguments for donation of the virtually unusable land at the end of 12th Street.
The museum expansion would include relocation of an 1887 farmhouse from East Texas to serve as a visitors' center with offices, gift shop and restrooms. Additionally, the former Dug Spring School will be moved to the site and renovated. The original one-room school is similar to those once found throughout Bandera County.
According to Sharman, the Texas Historical Commission is working with the museum and county historical commission on the ambitious project. Previously, Norton noted that the complex would create a cultural corridor in Bandera linking the Frontier Times Museum with St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, Western Trail Park on Main Street and the 11th Street Historical District.
After much discussion and debate, in December, council approved conveying the property to the museum with the proviso it would revert back to the city if plans were not carried out. At that time, Sharman promised to "... bring architectural drawings back to the city within six months."
Presumably, the six months timeline would begin after the Frontier Times Museum takes possession of the property . "The city's not rescinding on the deal," Sharman said. "We just have to get some things worked out."