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August 21st, 2008
Notebook: Wonderful low bids, affordable housing and expensive art


A look at business discussed at the San Marcos city council’s Aug. 19 meeting:

Wonder World Drive extension contract comes in significantly under budget

The low bid for the awaited Wonder World Drive extension came in about $8 million under budget, giving officials wiggle room to add aesthetic improvements and preserve trees along the right-of-way.

Rodman LLC bid $26,218,770 for the contract to build the three-mile connection between Hunter Road and Ranch Road 12 and widen an existing segment of Wonder World Drive between the railroad overpass and its current terminus at Hunter.

Council members also instructed staff members to compile a menu of options for landscaping and aesthetic enhancements and for maintaining trees along the route. Interim city engineer Sabas Avila said Texas Department of Transportation regulations require a 20-foot clear zone from pavement’s edge unless guard rails are used. That would add about $465,000 to the bottom line, which would preserve 101 trees larger than eight inches in diameter.

TxDOT has agreed to reimburse most, if not all, of construction costs under a pass-through financing agreement that bases state funding on how many vehicles use the road. Consequently, additions to the plan made possible by lower-than-expected bids can be made without direct impact to local taxpayers.

Mayor: Use foreclosed property for affordable housing

A normally routine tax foreclosure sell has been put on hold after Mayor Susan Narvaiz pressed to have the property offered to Habitat for Humanity or other program for low-income housing.

A company called J.W. Concepts Inc. offered $1,000 for a home lot on Jones Street in the Victory Gardens neighborhood that had been seized by local governments for tax delinquency. The property is appraised at $2,340.

Narvaiz asked her colleagues to consider postponing the transaction until local housing advocates could be approached about acquiring the property. Any sale must also be approved by the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District and Hays County.

Thomaides questions arts master plan study

A request from the city arts commission for $25,000 for an arts master plan drew the attention of council member John Thomaides during a budget hearing for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

“I don’t understand why we have to spend $25,000 to figure out how to spend money. …We don’t always need to reach out to a consultant to have a plan,” Thomaides said.

The arts commission appropriation is among outstanding fiscal issues that will be considered during two remaining meetings before a budget must be adopted and tax rate set.


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2 thoughts on “Notebook: Wonderful low bids, affordable housing and expensive art

  1. The Wonderworld Drive plan actually preserves over 800 existing trees between 8″-40″ in diameter.

  2. My hope is that we don’t rush to use up the entire $8 million. I’m all for saving some trees but let’s save some money too. John, is that 800 trees for the aforementioned $465,000?

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