Two long-discussed projects welcome signs at points of entry to Glen Rose and a pedestrian bridge linking downtown with the Riverwalk moved forward at Monday night's meeting of the Glen Rose Economic Development Corporation.
The GREDC, which is incorporated to use city 4B sales tax revenues for economic development and infrastructure projects, also approved a $2,000 matching grant to Barnard's Mill Art Museum to construct sidewalks connecting an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp at the mill's newly renovated annex to the front sidewalk.
The meeting was held in the museum's annex, which Barnard's Mill plans to rent for business conferences, workshops and meetings.
We are thrilled for the community to use us, Pat Barrow, president of the Somervell History Foundation, told the GREDC board. We want it to be a safe and nice experience. This facility can be used for many different things.
As required by its by-laws, the GREDC held public hearings on the projects it was considering before taking action.
The Glen Rose Somervell County Community Networking Group came up with the idea to erect etched stone signs at the entrances to the Glen Rose city limits along U.S. Highway 67 and State Highway 144.
Networking Group founders Craig Dodson and Jimmy Gosdin made a presentation to the board, similar to the one they made to the Glen Rose City Council earlier this year, showing photographs of the 8-foot-by-12-foot rocks that have been donated for the signs and the four potential locations in front of Squaw Valley Golf Course, along U.S. 67 West, on Larry Smith's land along Highway 144 North and by the Pentcostal church on Highway 144 South.
The logo would be a three-toed dinosaur print and a meandering ribbon of blue for the Paluxy River, as well as the words Welcome to Glen Rose. Both the Networking Group and the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce have come up with similar designs.
Either design would be fine, Gosdin said.
We're not particular, he said.
Gosdin and Dodson spoke with property owners to get approval for the locations, although they said they would need to reconfirm. Gosdin plans to donate dirt work and loading and hauling rock to the sites and Smith donated the rocks. The metal for templates, as well as the logo design, also were donated.
The estimated budget for the project is $35,220. About half of the estimated budget is for electrical connections, lighting and labor.
Darrell Best, GREDC chairman, said costs might be brought down by working with the utility company to lower the cost of providing electricity for lighting.
Alternatively, the signs might be erected at first with no lighting, low-voltage lighting or even solar lighting. There also is the possibility of some partnering money if the county decides it wants to be involved in the project. GREDC members clearly were excited at the prospect of finally getting the rocks in place.
I definitely want to see us take this on as a project, GREDC board member Ken Prikryl said.
Fellow board member Mitchell George agreed, as did Mike Jones, Sue Oldenburg, Sandra Ramsay and Joan Taylor.
When we came here 12 years ago, it was a project being talked about back then, Ramsay said. I think it's time we moved forward.
The board voted unanimously to work with the Networking Group to get the welcome sign rocks in place.
On the pedestrian bridge project, Prikryl told the board he had looked into six companies that could build such a bridge. The Somervell County Commissioners Court had made the suggestion that the GREDC might be able to save upfront design costs by contacting bridge builders directly rather than funding a study to look at possible alternatives. City and county officials have said they prefer a pedestrian bridge rather than a low-water crossing or cantilevered bridge alongside the existing Highway 144 TxDot bridge.
Prikryl said the bridge makers offer a range of materials wood, steel and/or aluminum and prices vary widely. Once the length goes beyond a span of 250 feet, prices go way up, he added.
The potential price spread for an 8-foot-wide bridge, including engineering, could be in the $250,000 to $500,000 range, he said.
County Commissioners recently gave their approval for the bridge to land at Heritage Park, with the caveat that they get to see the design and make it sure it meets their expectations.
The board approved that Prikryl pursue inquiries with the six bridge companies and see what kinds of costs and tradeoffs are involved.
In other action, the GREDC board discussed at length a proposal from the Chamber of Commerce to fund a full-time position to manage a possible Main Street historic preservation program and Glen Rose's application to be designated as a Certified Retirement Community, as well as oversee downtown events and festivals.
Karen Richardson spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting to say that although she thought such a job would be a "big asset" to the chamber, the CVB and other areas, she did not think it should be connected to just one organization.
But Don Lanham, the chamber's executive director, said he believed it made sense for the GREDC to fund the position as a chamber job and have that person coordinate with the city, CVB, Somervell County Expo, Oakdale Park and other tourism-related entities. He said he also saw a lot of potential to bring in baseball and softball tournaments at Beck Field and generate income.
Ramsay, however, said that she didn't think it was a good idea to hire an employee who would have "two boards to answer to" and two big issues under governmental regulations the Main Street program, which is administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Certified Retirement Community program, which is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
"I don't like the intermingling," she said. "I want it under a separate entity than the chamber. I don't feel comfortable with it because of the all the governmental regulations for the Main Street program."
As for the tournaments, "Shouldn't that be a city parks job?" Jones asked.
George said he also had issues with placing such a job within the chamber.
"I agree with Mike that should be a Parks & Rec job," he said of the tournaments.
"I could see us getting this thing started as a position," he said of the overall job. "But I don't feel so good about funding it and funding it on an ongoing basis."
Prikryl noted that the council also is looking for a manager for Oakdale Park and suggested it would be better to wait and not "get confused by who does what and how to pay for it all."
George suggested and the board agreed to table the possible position for further review. At the GREDC's November meeting, it was suggested to bring in a representative of the Certified Retirement Community program and Huckaby to discuss the details.
Jones also brought up that Wheeler Branch Reservoir would be a good potential site for a water park along the lines of the popular Schlitterbahn Waterpark developments in New Braunfels, South Padre Island and elsewhere. Even during the summer's drought, the lake maintained its levels and its water quality, he noted.
"I think it would be a most distinctive location," he said. "It would be unlike anything in North Texas."
The board decided that Jones should approach the Somervell Water District Board about discussing such a project at its next meeting.