A heated discussion got under way during a called Commissioner’s Court meeting Monday regarding the River Walk.
Somervell County Judge Walter Maynard said he asked the Glen Rose City Council to open the lines of communication on the city project but he never heard back from anyone. At the time, the city had begun working on a parking lot expansion project as part of the River Walk in Heritage Park, which is owned and maintained by the county.
Maynard said the county gave in to the city, but feels the county is getting backed into a corner with no way out after the city began taking bids for construction.
“It’s a total lack of respect as far as I’m concerned,” Maynard said.
He said the project contractors are bidding on could potentially include parts of Heritage Park, but the county was never consulted on those aspects.
Margaret Drake addressed the court on behalf of the River Walk committee. She didn’t think Heritage Park property would be affected by portions of the project out for bid, but was hoping the county would put in a sidewalk from the entrance of the park to Heritage Park Trail, which would then connect to the boardwalk.
The park has a large stone gate that stretches from the property line to the curb of the driveway. The left gate would have to be taken down to make room for a sidewalk.
However, because of a gas pipeline near the proposed sidewalk, commissioners are not sure if a sidewalk can be put in.
Just last week, commissioners sanctioned an area left of the entrance of Heritage Park as the future home of the Rhett Butler Monument.
But ultimately, the biggest concern was parking. After reviewing drawings of the project, commissioners discovered that Heritage Park would be the main parking lot.
“We should have been involved during the planning stages,” Maynard said. “It sounds like, to me, it’s (Heritage Park) a major part of it.”
“It’s the entryway,” Drake responded.
She added that finding adequate parking space has been a point of discussion during the process. The committee was not only counting on parking in the park, but on the square as well. They have also discussed the possibility of buying nearby vacant lots.
Commissioner Zach Cummings asked about open space near a cul de sac on the opposite end of the walkway.
Drake said property owners adamantly oppose parking in the area or along the street and were planning to install a rail along the curb to keep visitors from parking along the side of the street.
“The city won’t let you build a business unless you’ve got adequate parking,” said Commissioner Lloyd Wirt. “But they haven’t planned for it.”
Commissioner James Barnard pointed out that when someone uses the pavilion in the park, sometimes the existing parking lot overcrowds and there would be no way to fit trucks with boat trailers in the lot as well.
“What are they estimating the required parking spaces will be?” Maynard asked. “We’ve never been asked about using the park for parking.”
Drake apologized and said she thought parking was parking and never thought to ask and invited suggestions from the court about how to handle the situation.
“It we say no it makes us look like the bad guys,” Maynard said. “I want ya’ll to come and ask for what you want.”
Wirt said he supported the River Walk and thinks it will draw people to the city, which is why he was upset about the lack of clearly thought out plans.
“Margaret, I apologize for beating you up, but it’s just become a sore issue,” Maynard said. “Really, it’s the city that should be hear talking to us.”
Commissioner Mike Ford asked Drake if the engineers would be able to come to a future meeting to answer specific questions from the court about the project and how Heritage Park plays into the big picture.
Drake agreed to provide the court with a bid package and to bring the engineers and possibly City Superintendent Ronald Bruce to the next court meeting.
Commissioners agreed to place the item on the April 13 agenda and did not take any action on the item.
Commissioners also placed the three older houses on the April 13 agenda. The houses sit on Gaither Street on property that will be used as parking for the Glen Rose Medical Center.
Commissioners discussed demolishing the buildings last week but wanted time to review other options, such as salvaging rocks from the buildings. They decided on Monday to declare them as surplus next month and open the floor for bids to remove the rock and wood.
They also awarded a carpet bid to Jerry’s J&W Carpet out of Midlothian. The company came in with a $35,000 bid to provide carpet for the county library and the citizen’s center.
Maynard said Somervell Floors is working through Jerry’s for insurance purposes.