GShoals focuses on roads, adds Islanders to citizenry, opposes crusher plant

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

A crew from Holt Engineering takes a geo-tech core sample in Granite Shoals, where voters will go to the polls Nov. 7 to reaffirm $3 million in bonds to repair the city's three main thoroughfares. A Holt specialty providing construction considerations for large arterial roadways, highways, local subdivision streets and airport taxi-ways. They were sampling last week along Phillips Ranch Road, Prairie Creek Road and Valley View Lane.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Expressing confidence in the ability of Baylor Scott & White Hospital to assess its environmental needs, the Granite Shoals City Council added its own resolution on opposition to a new rock crushing plant in the south county.

It directs city staff to to notify the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) of the city's opposition and to add the council's voice to requests for a case hearing on the plant proposed near the intersection of Texas 71 and US 281.

A unanimous vote on two annexation ordinances added the subdivisions of Beaver Island (16.27 acres) and Web Isle (6.5 acres) to the city.

A vote on annexation of agricultural property owned by members of the Mezger family, with whom the city hopes to establish development agreements, has been continued to the Oct. 24 council meeting.

City Secretary Elaine Simpson had two important deadlines to share with the council and citizens.

Friday, Sept. 30, is the deadline for submitting nominations for the 2018 John Rinehart Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service.

“Applications are available here at city hall or on our city website, www.graniteshoals.org,” she said.

The last day to register to vote in the November General Election or to update your address on your voter registration is Tuesday, Oct. 10.

That is important to Granite Shoals voters because the city council will be going back to them to confirm their support of $3 million in road bonds. Although the bonds in question were approved previously, the council is asking (for the first time in the state's history, as far as anyone can discern) for reassurance by ballot before the bonds are issued.

A Town Hall Meeting for Road Bond Confirmation Education will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the fire hall on Ranch to Market Road 1431. The Arterial Road Bond Committee held one town hall in July and scheduled this second to answer any new questions voters have about the project to improve Valley View Lane, Prairie Creek Road and Phillips Ranch Road.

“You may have noticed markings on those three roads or you may have seen traffic slowing down by a big orange drilling rig in the road,” said Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith. “Holt Engineering is taking geo-tech core samples. They will be used to determine conditions of the road and the base to aid the engineers in designing the project.”

The long negotiations with Emergency Service District 3 (ESD #3) were laid to rest with council approval of a one-year, rather than five-year, agreement with the district. The district will pay $196,000 for services of Granite Shoals Fire Rescue in 2017-2018.

An agreement for a five-year contract for fire service from the city has been reached with the City of Highland Haven, but a vote was delayed for final editing of the document. It calls for an initial payment in the coming year of $75,000, to increase $2,500 annually.

The council voted to put forward Mayor Pro Tem Jim Davant as a candidate for the Burnet CAD Board of Directors. Former Granite Shoals council member and long-time CAD board member Calvin Chamness had decided to step down from the board.

“This is not the appraisal review board,” said Davant. “I wouldn't be making decisions about anyone's property valuations. This board functions more for oversight of financials of the district.”

Significant in action carried over for future consideration was approval of a letter of agreement with Grant Development Services for administration of the $500,000 Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) for the construction of a multi-purpose sports center in mining operation structures in Quarry Park.

Administering the grant would depend on accepting the grant. After 10 years of working toward it, Granite Shoals was rated the top candidate based on need and potential in the last round of TPWD grant processing in March.

“Just because we get a grant doesn't mean we have to use it,” said council member Mark Morren, who returned to his two primary reservations about the project. “There is nothing in this grant for restrooms (and) once we have it we will have to maintain it.”

“I have been on the council for two budget cycles and it has been pure survival,” said council member Todd Holland. “We are presiding over a slow decline.”

Both the youngest members of the council have been in favor of finding money in that tight budget for some kind of small neighborhood courts rather than a central facility. They expressed doubt that preparation work to stabilize the buildings would come in on budget, that volunteers or community support would materialize or that youth sports organizations would help with maintenance.

In the course of the conversation, City Manager Ken Nickel expressed confidence in the company that estimated the work on the buildings and a contract that would put budget compliance in a contractor's responsibility. City Attorney patiently explained the difference between new products made from recycled material.

Council member Shirley King, a part of the Quarry Park plan from it's inception reviewed the origin of the city's reserved park fund, from which the 10 percent grant administration contract fee would be drawn. Land dedication and other in-kind considerations were accepted by TDWP to match the grant that would fill the quarry building with covered soccer and other sports fields and courts.

“The dedicated park fund can't be used for streets or any other purpose than parks,” she said.

Davant, presiding over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Carl Brugger called a halt to the discussion.

“Given where we are in this discussion and the absence of Mayor Brugger and council member Tom Dillard, I want to continue this item to Oct. 10,” he said.

In other action and, after lengthy discussion, the council defined an area for concentration of code compliance work. They instructed city staff to spend the next month assessing the scope of work, according to points developed by Davant: lack of house numbers, junk vehicles and uninhabitable buildings.

The council retained the city's current Vision Statement in adooption of Ordinance 713-A, a modification of the Comprehensive Plan, and King asserted it should be posted in detail in clear view of city hall visitors. Also, the council voted to renew the city's inter-local with Burnet County for fire assistance.

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