City, county talk streets, sports park and more
Officials from the City of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County met Monday morning to discuss joint budget items ahead of the 2020 fiscal year.
No action was taken on the budget items but discussion reviewed the entities’ shared services.
Main budget items for departments included:
• Gillespie County Health Services;
• City/County Emergency Management Services;
• City Fire Department;
• County Rural Fire Services;
• City EMS department;
• Law Enforcement Center;
• Combined Emergency Dispatch Center;
• City Animal Shelter;
• Sports Park;
• Relief Route,
• Street Bond Project;
• Recycling Center.
Over 400 members of the community attended a recent open house for the proposed Relief Route, City Manager Kent Myers said.
“Our consultants have indicated this is more attendees than they see on larger road projects in big cities,” Myers said. “We want to continue to provide the public with this opportunity to add their comments because the public input is one of the factors that is being considered when choosing the preferred route.”
Myers said the next step is that Texas Department of Transportation will do technical traffic modeling and a historic resource survey.
“This will look at the different properties around the preferred routes and their historic significance,” he said.
From there, a local preferred route option will be presented based off community input and the input from the Relief Route task force.
In the next phase, an environmental impact study will be performed, and a schematic design will be developed.
City Councilman Tom Musselman questioned why two routes had not been eliminated due to the fact that they would go through two major subdivisions.
“Why would these still be even considered if they go through the proposed Frieden Lakes subdivision and the Dale Crenwelge subdivision,” Musselman said.
“I don’t think those are being considered as the primary options right now but we have to continue to compile information from the citizens that were there, once that is done, they will look at each of these routes harder,” Mayor Linda Langerhans said. “We can’t move forward until the committee has all their information put together.”
Gillespie County Commissioner Donnie Schuch, Pct. 4, reminded that all routes are going to affect the community.
“Whichever route is decided upon is going to go somewhere that someone doesn’t like, but we have to move forward,” he said.
The community can view the map of the five route options as well as evaluation criteria at City Hall, 126 West Main Street.
Sports park update
After two failed bond elections, the City of Fredericksburg is still looking into options for the possible development of a sports park.
“We want to create playing fields for our children and we know that this need is increasing more and more each year and we need to accommodate them,” Myers said. “We need to address that need in the next year or two.”
Clinton Bailey, assistant city manager and director of public works, and Andrea Schmidt, director of parks and recreation, are working alongside the local sports associations and a possible donor about helping fund the cost of the facility.
“We are working with these individuals as well as putting some money in our budget that could help with the utilities and future maintenance,” Myers said.
“We asked each group to come up with a proposal that laid out their biggest challenges, short-term and long-term needs, as well as any possible financial contributions,” Bailey said.
An anonymous donor has offered to help cover the cost of the construction and maintenance side of the baseball and softball fields.
The city will continue conversations over the next six to 12 months before making any final decisions.
Bailey presented three potential street bond projects that could be brought up for a vote in 2020.
The first project, estimated at $6 million would extend Cherry Street to Post Oak Road.
“South Cherry would go to Post Oak and tie into Texas 16 South,” Bailey said. “It would essentially create a loop and help people get around Main Street.”
Another potential project would extend Frederick Road. The estimated cost is around $18 million and could be combined with the Cherry Street project.
In addition, the city sees a need to improve access using Friendship Lane.
Improvements would start at the intersection for Friendship Lane and Texas 16 South. Drivers could cut across to Kerr Road, utilizing existing rights of way and eventually crossing U.S. 290 West and intersecting U.S. 87 North.
“We want to try and open up some avenues that increase mobility around Fredericksburg and then also support future developments that are underway,” Bailey said. “Over the next 20 years, we could see an additional 500 to 1,000 additional homes in that area.”
Musselman reminded that these are not relief routes, but attempts to help people get where they need to go.
“I think the public is going to have to look at this knowing it’s not a relief route or get trucks off Main Street, but attempts to help people travel and get where they need to be,” he said.
Musselman also drew concern after the Friendship Lane extension discussion, stating that the street may have to be renamed.
“Currently, it stops at Highway 16 but if we go all the way up to U.S. 290 West and 87 North, we might as well rename it,” he said. “Might as well call it Friendship Speedway as it is now.”
Myers said that it would be designated as a TxDOT roadway, therefore most trucks would still use Main Street.
Following a recommendation from the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, the City of Fredericksburg will continue conversations about solutions to affordable housing.
“We had a request from the Chamber of Commerce to find a full-time housing coordinator that would help with affordable housing solutions,” Myers said.
No comments or discussion was made on the matter.
Fredericksburg Fire EMS has increased its annual budget in order to purchase updated vehicles and equipment.
Fredericksburg Fire Department will purchase a new pumper truck that is estimated to cost $1 million.
The truck would be purchased on a 10-year lease and would take about two years to build before the department is able to use it.
In addition, another ambulance will be purchased.
“With an increased volume of calls, we found it necessary to add another ambulance,” Fredericksburg Fire Chief Lynn Bizzell said.
He estimates that in three years, ambulances record nearly 100,000 miles.
On the EMS side, two new heart rate monitors will be purchased, totaling $37,000.
Other items presented Monday included more than $1 million in improvements and repairs at Marktplatz, additional funds to hire four new dispatchers in the Gillespie County Communications Center and current and future land annexations.
Funds for the 175th anniversary in 2021 are also being considered for planning purposes.