City strives to bring bond price tag down

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With a target cost of $120 million, New Braunfels City Council continues to chip away at proposed bond projects.

During a Dec. 3 retreat City Council cut four potential projects from a list of 21 priority items identified by the city’s bond advisory committee, or BAC.

“The goal is to have a no tax-rate impact bond election, and based on our estimates and assumptions for growth and value we estimate that the bond would need to be no more than $120 million,” City Manager Robert Camareno said.

The Dry Comal Hike and Bike Trail extension, Guadalupe River Properties Park, Kerlick Park and Mission Hill Park were removed from the BAC’s list, meaning those projects will no longer receive bond funding from the proposed bond package that would be voted on by citizens in May. However, Capital Programs Manager Jennifer Cain said the projects may be included in a future bond or receive funding from other sources.

The decision to remove the parks projects comes at a time when the city falls about 500 acres short of the recommended service level for developed park space.

“They’re not saying that parks are not a priority; they’re just trying to cut it down to [$120 million],” Cain said.

A parks project that remains on the list is the Callen’s Castle All Abilities Park, which was listed as the No. 16 priority by the BAC. It is a project citizens have expressed support for throughout the process.

At the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, Council Member Matthew Hoyt expressed his desire to reconsider the park’s ranking. He brought to light the $3.5 million estimate for the park and alluded to an all-abilities park that was constructed in Dallas for $824,000.

“I worry a lot about that as we go through this process, and I wonder if there’s a way to rethink what it is that our community wants and needs out of this and approach the project different to get maybe closer to where Dallas is,” Hoyt said. “I mean Dallas is 1.4 million people, and they love their park.”

At the retreat potential modifications to the project were discussed.

“[City Council] directed us to come back to them with some level of funding, even if it means including all-abilities park components into an existing park,” Camareno said.

Citywide streets and sidewalks projects are identified as New Braunfels’ No. 1 priority for bond funding, a reflection of consistent input from community surveys.

“All roads all over the community need to be repaired and maintained, so the committee felt that’s got to be the No. 1 thing,” said Ray Still, pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church, who served as the BAC’s non-voting chairperson.

Since January the BAC has worked to determine which projects would be best-suited for a potential bond package. Members took field trips to see for themselves how the funding, if approved, could be put to work.

“[The committee] was a lot of diverse groups from all different segments of the community, so you have all this input as well as community input, as well as city staff leadership and information,” Still said. “So when it comes to the bond election, you’re talking about some items that have been researched, vetted and have a good community of support for them.”

At the retreat the decision was also made to incorporate $2 million in matching transportation funds, which was ranked at No. 12, into the citywide streets and sidewalks pool. If it is not used to match funding from other organizations for transportation projects, it will be allocated for streets and sidewalks initiatives.

Camareno said City Council planned to discuss further scenarios to reach its $120 million goal Dec. 13, which fell after Community Impact Newspaper’s print deadline. For more information about the 2019 bond initiative, visit
www.nbbond2019.com.

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Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson is editor of the New Braunfels edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covers local business, new development, city and county government, health care, education and transportation. Rachel relocated to Central Texas from Amarillo in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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