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May 11th, 2010
City planners close in on 3-year improvement list


About three dozen people attended a capital improvement projects open house recently conducted by the city at the Price Seniors Center. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

After proposing 54 projects for funding in the Capital Improvement Program’s (CIP) three-year fiscally constrained plan, City of San Marcos officials are asking residents to indicate which capital improvement projects they wish to see funded for the next three years.

Such projects include doubling the size of the San Marcos Public Library, renovating the Activity Center, preventing riverbank erosion and providing hardened access points to the San Marcos River, abandoning the fire station on Holland Street, constructing bike and pedestrian improvements along Aquarena Springs Drive, replacing street lamps throughout the city with more efficient lights, acquiring water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, and providing water/wastewater extensions for the future Texas State University Research and Commercialization Center (RCC) at Hunter Road and McCarty Lane.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) will hold a public hearing during its regular 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall Tuesday night. After receiving comments from the public at that hearing, P&Z commissioners will hold a similar hearing at their May 25 meeting, where they are expected to make recommendations to the city council regarding which projects should be included in the three-year fiscally constrained plan. The council will forward a list of approved projects to city staff sometime in the fall, before the next budget cycle begins. Those projects not approved for inclusion in the three-year fiscally constrained plan will be placed in the 2014-2021 ‘future funding’ category.

City of San Marcos Development Services Chief Planner Melissa McCollum said at a recent CIP open house that public comments indicating support for projects in the proposed three-year fiscally constrained plan will be used to provide further justification for the consideration of P&Z commissioners and city councilmembers. Members of the public may suggest projects that are not in the proposed (CIP) three-year fiscally constrained plan.

“And if they’re not on (the proposed list), we’ll definitely look at potentially adding them to the CIP list in the future and really analyzing how they will work in the bigger picture of things in the CIP,” McCollum said.

An expansion of the 21-year-old public library would add 27,000 square feet to the current 54,000 square-foot structure, adding 50 parking spaces, replacing the carpet, roof, and vinyl wallcovering, removing interior storefront, upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, remodeling the restrooms, improving the lighting and adding electrical outlets.

City of San Marcos Library Division Assistant Director of Community Services Stephanie Langenkamp said the library’s lifespan can be extended “at least another 20 years” with the renovations and expansion.

San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) Assistant Fire Chief Len Nored said the Holland Street fire station, which he said was built in 1954, is too small for modern fire trucks. Nored said the fire department receives many calls for service from residents living on Texas State’s campus. Though Nored said this proximity to campus makes having the Holland station a plus, he said the department has outgrown it.

“We’re hoping to move somewhere out by maybe Craddock (Avenue) and Ranch Road 12, somewhere in that area,” Nored said. “Even though this project says 2011 to relocate, that’s just the first step. Hopefully we can get the land in 2011, then in 2012 (or) 2013 we can do a design study and start construction.”

Nored said firefighters have to be very careful when backing fire trucks into the the station, which looks like a duplex. Nored said there have not been any accidents associated with the small truck bays, though he added that there is no insulation and the facility is not energy efficient.

City staff included a training field for the fire department in the three-year plan. Nored said his department has not yet proposed a location for the training field, though it is considering a location near the city airport and an old 1940s-era fire department barracks. Nored said the city received a $268,000 grant from federal government, which will be used to buy “fire props,” such as a tanker truck, a car, a barbecue pit and a dumpster for training purposes. The props can be attached to propane tanks to simulate being engulfed in flame. The first training exercise may occur in the fall, Nored said.

The proposed water and wastewater line extensions to the future Texas State RCC that city staff included in the three-year fiscally constrained plan may end up being partly funded by grants jointly applied for by the city and university. The federal Economic Development Administration maximum grant award is $1.5 million and requires a local match of $5.5 million from the university for building activity and $500,000 from the city for sewer main extensions. If the grant is awarded, the city would receive $500,000 to fund more infrastructure, such as the extension of a sewer main to nearby areas, and the university would get $1 million for construction of the building.

“The RCC project will provide a center for the research, development and commercialization of multifunctional materials to drive the development and innovation for the next generation of devices used in the fields of energy, security and health,” states a February Texas State status report issued by its Office of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction.

A regional economic development strategy being developed by public and private stakeholders recommends targeting the “material science and advanced manufacturing” sector for recruitment into the Greater San Marcos Area, in addition to health care, corporate and professional operations, and supply chain management.

The university has a will fund the $4 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for the 30,000 square-foot RCC. It also has matching funds and donated equipment from Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor.

City of San Marcos Capital Improvements Director David Healey said in mid-April that the city has 53 CIP projects underway, including 16 projects under construction. Of those 53 projects, he said 20 projects will be finished by the end of this calendar year.

San Marcos voters in November 2005 approved general obligation bond projects totaling $11.2 million. As of mid-April, $4,495,000 in projects remained. City councilmembers in 2009 approved $8.7 million in certificates of obligation (CO) sales for CIP projects, such as the purchase of a fire truck, river bank stabilization, parkland improvements and transportation projects.

“It’s imperative that we get the community’s buy-in and input into this process to make sure that the city is going in the direction the community wants to see it go,” City of San Marcos Assistant Planning Director Matthew Lewis said to about three dozen attendees at the recent CIP open house.

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0 thoughts on “City planners close in on 3-year improvement list

  1. I read elsewhere that, “Denver received $250,000 of stimulus money for cycling projects and is going to add 11 miles of bike lanes.” I hope we are coordinating with Texas State University, and any other applicable governmental entities, on any walking/cycling initiatives we plan. Kudos to the City staff for conducting the CIP open house. I really wanted to attend, too, but had schedule conflicts. Many thanks to the citizens who did attend and participate in the review and dialog.

  2. My post from last week on the CIP meeting kind of got buried in an off topic discussion so I am reposting here where it belongs. Some slight changes have been made.

    I attended the City Capital Improvements Plan meeting on Tuesday. There was a handful of actual citizens and about 25 city employees and various consulting agencies. There was no speech making etc… Note to staff. Thanks for not boring us to death. The various city departments set up table with maps and literature regarding their Capitol Improvement projects for the next three years. This was in no way a meeting designed to elicit citizen input. These are all done deals which will be presented to P&Z and then Council for final approval some time this month. By this time in the process, I would suspect that the whole CIP plan could be put on the consent docket with no discussion.

    The City staff was very pleasant and made a legitimate attempt to answer all my questions. There is an almost unbelievable, in terms of number and scope of projects on line for the next three years. I suspect that a lot of these projects are going to be a complete surprise to most people in San Marcos. I really don’t have the knowledge to evaluate a lot of the projects. Most of us would be totally unable to determine if some of the capacity projects for San Marcos Electrical Utilities are worth the price of the project.

    I was specifically interested in the surveying being done on North LBJ between Oakridge Drive and Craddock and down Oakridge Drive. What is going to happen is that the sewer line going up N. LBJ from the lift station at Sagewood is going to be upsized and a new larger capacity pipe is going to be installed down Oakridge and out the end of Oakridge roughly across the flood plain damns to the new Windermere Ranch subdivision. Then the line will circle around town to the treatment plant. I was completely unaware of this project before the surveyors showed up and started spraying orange paint on the roads.

    I am some what concerned by this project for several reasons. One reason I am not concerned is because I live on Oakridge. The road will be a mess for a few months but after construction, there is no need for us to be even aware of the new sewer line. Reasons for concern are that this project is going to be very expensive. The line is going to cross some of the most rugged terrain in Hays County. If you stand at the top of the hill on Oakridge and look towards Lime Kiln road, you will see land that looks like it belongs some where around the Grand Canyon. Not only is the land very challenging in terms of topography but is almost all rock. This, is I am assuming is a primary recharge zone for the Aquifer and the surface water must flow into the San Marcos River at some point. I am sure that the City Engineer types have taken this in consideration and the pipe line will be build with all sorts of safety systems to control a spill. However, this kind of construction is bound to be very expensive. Is this project really necessary or is it just a back door way to get to Windermere.

    I am not a no growther so I have absolutely no objection to the Windermere development. This project isn’t even on the current CIP project list presented Tuesday night because it is already fully funded and ready to go to construction. Thus the orange marks on the pavement. The City Council is very aware of this project and has discussed it and funded it several years ago. Which makes me wonder about why we are even having a discussion regarding Windermere because it seems to be a done deal. Sometimes City projects get funny names that make sense to people at City Hall but kind of obscure the issue for most of us. This project should have been designated the Windermere subdivision sewer project or the Lime Kiln road sewer project. Instead it is called something weird like the Global All Inclusive Northwest Passage Sewer Interceptor Project. That’s some what of a joke but in reality I don’t remember what they call it because it is something almost that weird. That kind of project name makes it hard for even well informed citizens to keep track of City projects.

    The only input I offered to the staff was that since we are going to tear up N. LBJ between Oakridge and Craddock, maybe we should use the opportunity to fix this horrible little stretch of road instead of just putting it back like it is and then, in a few years, pay a lot of money to dig it back up and fix it correctly. All the City folks I talked with about this seemed to think that would be a good idea but since this an already approved project, I have my doubts that any changes will come about.

    Note to staff. Bring coffee. Cookies’ were nice but at six o’clock, we need coffee -bad.

    Charles Sims

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