The city of New Braunfels is one step closer to a possible bond election after the 24-member bond advisory committee convened Monday night.
The group, which was appointed by the New Braunfels City Council, began discussions in January to identify community projects that could be funded through a potential bond package. The initiative is expected to be put before voters in May.
During Monday’s meeting, the committee approved to recommend 21 projects for a bond package.
“You all have had eight meetings,” City Manager Robert Camareno told the committee. “One of those included a bus tour to narrow down this list, which was about 155, if not more, projects to narrow it down to the list that’s being considered tonight.”
Earlier in the process, City Council approved a set of projects that underwent a preliminary engineering evaluation.
The committee also ranked the projects in order of most important. The projects are as follows:
- Citywide street and sidewalks improvements
- Phase 2 of the Klein Road construction project
- Fire Station No. 2 replacement
- Fire Station No. 3 replacement
- Comal Cemetery wall stabilization
- Goodwin Lane/Conrads Lane construction project
- Phase 1 of the Sports Fields Complex
- A police department facility
- Phase 1 of a north/south collector
- Westside Community Center expansion
- Kohlenberg Road construction project
- Transportation matching funds
- Phase 1 of the public works municipal service center
- Barbarosa Road construction project
- Southeast Library Branch
- Phase 1 to develop the Callen’s Castle All Abilities Park
- Dry Comal Hike & Bike Trail
- A veteran’s memorial
- Phase 1 to develop the Guadalupe River Properties Park
- Phase 1 to develop Mission Hill Park
- Kerlick Avenue Park project
City Capital Programs Manager Jennifer Cain said the total cost for the projects is $236 million.
“We have inflated all these projects for five years,” she said. “It’s hard to inflate them and schedule them out, so there is probably a little bit extra inflation in there.”
Cain said once project timelines are developed, costs for inflation, project management and staffing can be adjusted, which could bring costs down to possibly make room to include an additional project.
The motion to submit the prioritized list to City Council passed with one dissenting vote by Alice Jewell, board advisory committee member and CEO of the McKenna Foundation, who felt some projects should be moved higher on the list.
“We have heard from these library [supporters]every single time, and I think they have made a really good case on why this community needs a second library,” she said.
Jewell also noted she felt the Dry Comal Hike & Bike Trail should have ranked higher because it was identified in 2012 as an unfunded project already passed by voters.
Proponents for a new city library also addressed the group during Monday’s meeting, including Susie Waters, co-president of the Friends of the New Braunfels Public Library. She told the group the library provides Internet, classes, athletic opportunities and more at no cost.
“The library is really important, and it impacts the lives of people who do not have funds,” Waters said.
Thaida Williams, a volunteer tutor for the library, serves children who speak English at school but not at home. She serves in the library located in the Westside Community Center and feels the facility should be expanded to accommodate more citizens.
“We have 14 to 15 children being served, but we really don’t have the space for more,” she said. “… It’s like magic happens because other members of the family come, so an aunt or an uncle who might be too shy start being interested in [English as a second language] lessons. It’s a true community, and it just has ripple effects throughout.”
With a majority of votes in favor of passing the projects, Camareno said the next step will be presenting the recommendations to City Council, which could happen as soon as Nov. 12.
Ray Still, pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church who chaired the bond advisory committee, urged members to stay connected moving forward.
“I think it’s really now time for us when we finish this task to put on our citizen’s hat and be citizens and get involved in the process,” Still said.