Harper remembered as mayor who led change
Boyd Harper, who served as mayor of Fredericksburg during a crucial time in its development, died Aug. 4 at age 66.
Harper was remembered as a colorful character, yet a forceful personality who ushered in new improvements to what had been a sleepy small town.
Gary Neffendorf, who served as the town’s first city manager when Harper and others pushed through a home rule charter, remembered the man who worked tirelessly for change.
“Boyd had a life full of accomplishments, but his 10-year stint as the mayor of Fredericksburg made lasting contributions,” Neffendorf said.
At age 30, Harper defeated incumbent Ken Brown and was elected mayor in 1982, taking charge in this “general law” city with a mayor and two city commissioners as its governing body.
“The mayor’s position was more than part time. Even though he continued his real estate and music careers, he had an office in City Hall and was there on a daily basis,” Neffendorf said.
Fredericksburg was changing and Harper was ready to change city government as well, while still respecting and honoring its past.
Neffendorf said some of his accomplishments that still remain an integral part of the town today include:
Code revisions — Harper and his commissioners hired Coy Summers as Building Official and directed him to review and recommend changes to the codes. The revisions led to the sign ordinance, the landscape ordinance, the Historic District zoning, and the creation of the Historic Review Board.
Market Square/Old Fair Park — The end result was the redevelopment of Marktplatz to its current park setting and the development of Old Fair Park’s ball fields.
Neffendorf said a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant helped offset some of the cost of development and a much-debated bond issue was passed for the purchase of the downtown square site and its initial development.
“In those days, small town bond issues had to be reviewed by rating agencies in New York City, so Boyd, commissioners John Dodds and Tim Crenwelge, and myself traveled to the Big Apple and secured a favorable rating for the bonds,” Neffendorf said. “The Marktplatz Redevelopment Commission was appointed and oversaw the development and fund raising.”
The committee exists today, with future development to come.
“True to form, Boyd toasted champagne when the land sale was completed and threw out the first pitch at Old Fair Park,” he said.
As a side note, included in the purchase of the property for Old Fair Park was a building on East Ufer Street, where the Recycling Center now stands.
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