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Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - April 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
TEIDC says no to street work
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – A plan to expand an ongoing city street improvement project was shot down Monday night by the Trinity Economic and Industrial Development Corporation. During TEIDC’s monthly meeting, interim Trinity City Manager Buddy Drake presented a plan that would call for the group to help pave a number of city streets that lead to the downtown business district. Drake’s request was rejected by the seven-member board in a 4-3 vote but some members of the panel indicated it would come up for other votes in the future. It had been believed that TEIDC was not allowed to uses its economic development funds on street work but Drake discovered that information they had been given earlier was in error. Because Trinity is considered to be a “Class B” city, economic development funds can be used to improve streets leading to and from business or industrial areas. “You can’t go out in a subdivision and fix a street but you can use the money on street projects that will benefit existing businesses,” Drake said. TEIDC is funded through the city sales tax. Under state law, it receives a quarter of the income generated by the city’s two percent sales tax. The city manager noted that last year the city issued $500,000 in certificates of obligation to fund a major street improvement program and that this past fall, it spent $150,000 of that money to repave six streets. It was noted that those streets were chosen based on the amount of traffic they carry and the limited amount of work that they needed. The six streets only needed an overlay of new pavement and, with a few minor exceptions, did not require repair to their base. In about a month as the weather warms up, Drake said the city will resume its road repair plans and rework a number of streets that will require major work. “Basically, we’re going to have to tear them up and rework the base before we pave them, “he said. The remaining $350,000 in the fund is hoped to be enough to rework Israel Otis, Walker, Elizabeth, Rankin and 10th Street as well as part of Caroline. If all of the money is not spent on these projects, Drake said the city will add additional streets until funds run out. The city manager asked the TEIDC board to “agree in principal” to pay for repairs to Stadium Street, Maple Street from Stadium to Caroline, Elm Street from San Jacinto to Caroline, San Jacinto Street, Jefferson Street and Madison Street west of Railroad Street. Also on the list was the repaving of Pine Valley Drive and Robb Street from Pine Valley south to its intersection with Highway 19. In addition, Drake requested they repave two north-south alleys, one running beside the Trinity Post Office and one running behind the new Subway and Western Auto stores. Although he did not have any cost estimates for the work, Drake said the final price could easily be more than the $500,000 the city had allocated in its current street repair work. “If you will agree to this in principal, we will get you the cost figures on each street and come back for you to approve them,” he said. The four TEIDC board members who voted against the plan each offered different reasons. Art Walker told Drake that he just did not feel street work fell under the umbrella of economic development. “The line you’re drawing is that this will help retain jobs and I just don’t see this line,” he told Drake. The city manager countered that good streets, especially in the business district, would help boost chances that additional businesses would come to Trinity. “And if we can’t bring in new business, we need to take the approach that we should help the ones that we already have,” Drake said. Lois Saldana said that before she could vote for the plan, she wanted to see cost estimates and board member Richard Jones said his main opposition was to paving the alley behind the Western Auto store. Billy Jack Walker at first told the board he opposed spending money on streets until other “old business” projects were completed. Later in the meeting, during a heated exchange with Drake, he said that while he at first supported the plan, he changed his mind that morning after an incident at city hall in which he felt he was treated unfairly. Billy Jack Walker is a candidate for city council and was seeking to get an additional number of mail ballot applications. Former City Manager Phil Patchett had ordered 300 of the applications and each of the candidates in contested races were issued 50 and asked to come back for more once they used them all. When he went to the city hall Monday morning to request more mail ballot applications, he apparently was questioned by a city worker as to whether he had already used the initial 50. Board members who voted in favor of the street proposal included Sharon Dennis, Wayne Huffman and Neal Smith. Huffman and Smith both currently serve on the city council and like the rest of the TEIDC board were appointed by the city council to oversee the operation of the economic development agency. Following the meeting, Drake said he did not feel that some of the members of the TEIDC board have a clear vision of economic development. “No matter what you do, if your infrastructure – water, sewer and streets – won’t handle the demand, you’re not going to get anywhere,” he said. Other business During the meeting, the TEIDC board: • Approved a request from the city to pay $32,500 plus the cost of plumbing to get an old 65,000 ground storage water tank back in operation. The tank is located on the north side of Trinity on property purchased from the old Ainsworth Ford dealership. The city had stopped using it when it build an elevated tank on the opposite side of Highway 19 but now wants to put it back in use to guarantee adequate water pressure to the East Texas Medical Center-Trinity and other north side water customers. Art Walker voted against the project for the same reason he outlines concerning the street project and indicated he could not see how a board member could vote against the street work and for the water tank project. • Discussed hiring a full-time economic director. Smith, who serves as the TEIDC board president, said they have received 12 applications for the post and appointed Jones and Art Walker to a committee to study the resumes and recommend three or four for full interviews. • Learned that 20 planter boxes to be placed along the downtown streets had arrived and agreed to purchase potting soil, mulch and sand. The TEIDC board plans to install the boxes planted with crape myrtles. • Discussed placing new Trinity signs at the north and south city limits. The large signs would contain a Tiger head denoting the Trinity High School mascot and plans call for a lighted flag pole to be placed at each location. • Discussed but took no action on creating half-court basketball and a soccer field for the benefit of area youth. The TEIDC board indicated they wanted to place these facilities in neighborhoods close to the young people who would use them. • Discussed the 14-acres track of land located south of the Alco shopping center off Highway 19. TEIDC is attempting to develop the property into a business park and board members discussed moving forward with plans to install a street and lay water and sewer lines from Highway 19 to FM 1617. Drake told them that once they get a business to commit to build in the park, the state has Capital Improvement grant money available that can be used to install the streets and utilities. Smith noted that the TEIDC board has had “ups and downs” with the property. They gave four acres of the land to a company which planned to build a motel on the condition they the company break ground within a year. “When that didn’t happen, we had to take the property back, so we need to try and get something else going down there,” he said.


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