Granite Shoals bides time on bond issue



Ready for hard work, early arrivals Wednesday, July 27, prepare to spread out around Granite Shoals to give back to the Highland Lakes community. They are part of an effort organized by youth ministers of the First Baptist Churches of Granite Shoals, Kingsland and Marble Falls, Hill Country Fellowship, Church of the Epicenter in Burnet and Lake Shores Church in Marble Falls and others. In two days, about 75 youth took on parks projects and home repair and clean up for eight residents in need.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The Granite Shoals City Council chose a conservative path Tuesday, July 26, delaying a citizen vote on a bond issue that could restore major thoroughfares.

The meeting wore on to midnight as the council weighed the possibility of putting a bond issue for around $2.8 million on the November ballot. In the end, Mayor Carl Brugger's vote decided to delay the ballot option to citizens until May.

The bond issue would buy the city another $3.4 million in grant matching funds if the proposed street project were to cost as much as $6.2 million.

“We have a small window of opportunity to qualify for a 55-45 percent matching grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said City Manager Ken Nickel. “But I support the decision to wait to move ahead until all the preliminary engineering and environmental studies are complete. A savings of more than half is too good an opportunity to pass up. We need to know more exactly what it will cost, now that the council has agreed to bring Valley View Lane, Prairie Creek Road and Phillips Ranch Road to the standard of RM1431.”

At issue is the fact that the 2010 Census said the city had grown in population from 2,040 people in 2000 to 4,910. The choice USDA grant is available to cities only under 5,000 population. The next grant cycle would put the constantly-growing town past the 2020 census and into a category with a lower match potential.

The application process for the grant has begun, but it could not be finalized without the commitment of funds. For that, the council wants approval at the polls.

Meanwhile, school buses, sanitation trucks, construction traffic and a steady, heavy stream of weekend and recreation visitors are grinding old pavement to a path of potholes. Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith, who also manages the city's utility operations, has made frequent reports on the stop-gap measures for repair. The city's annual street improvements that take advantage of county equipment address about five miles of ancillary streets each year.

“We have been in contact with the county...and set the days of Aug. 24-25 for paving, according to the plan the council approved in March,” she told the Tuesday night meeting. “In the past we have used door hangers along the streets we are working. This year we will try a banner system to let people know.”

Mayor Carl Brugger said he had begun the process with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for a study of traffic counts at the intersection of Ranch to Market Road 1431 and Prairie Creek Road.

“If it qualifies by their standards, TxDOT will install a traffic light there,” said Brugger. “Either it does or it does not and that is their decision.”

Much of the lengthy meeting was devoted to the results of study by the Planning & Zoning Commission of the portion of the Zoning Ordinance devoted to fencing. Especially gardeners have sought higher protection from the roving deer population and a new citizen petition addressed the fact that the city had disallowed not only the eight-foot height but the material, natural cedar posts, a family had used around its garden.

The council agreed on six recommendations to the P&Z and sent the ordinance back for more work.

“Refreshing” was the term Brugger applied to the report from Neil Haverlah, chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee (AAC). He gave them a step-by-step report on progress to reorganize the defunct committee and set goals for the future of the city's airport, including generation of revenue. One problem they face has grown out of the original establishment of the field to serve the Sherwood Shores development that became city property.

We need clarity on public versus private,” said Haverlah. “It is now listed as a private airport and under flight rules you need permission to land. Really, it is public. Changing that will take some time and paperwork.”

Everyone at the meeting was able to follow along on a brief, televised virtual tour of the city's Global Positioning System (GPS) conducted by Will Dugger from his Abilene office of Jacob & Martin Engineering. One of the most important uses will be water system records and improvement, but Dugger said the system had to potential for overlays concerning zoning or law enforcement.

“Each year, youth from area churches work to give back to communities,” Nickel told the council. “Granite Shoals has been selected this year. As many as 75 youth started today focusing on residents who need help cleaning up their property.

“Tomorrow they will focus on the city. They will continue work Jim Tenny and other volunteers from the Airport Committee started at the community center and paint the inside walls.”

The team that arrived included volunteers from the First Baptist Churches of Granite Shoals, Kingsland and Marble Falls, Hill Country Fellowship and Church of the Epicenter in Burnet and Lake Shores Church in Marble Falls. Before they were done they had helped eight residents in need, painted the exterior of Veterans Memorial Park pavilion and the community center and spread an entire truck load of pea gravel at Crockett Park.

“They really worked hard and did a great job,” said Nickel. “We want to thank them for helping our residents and the city at the same time.”

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