JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
GRANITE SHOALS — Roads and the city airport dominated the Granite Shoals City Council’s regular meeting March 8.
The council authorized City Manager Ken Nickel to spend up to $5 million on Phillips Ranch Road and Prairie Creek Road for improvements, right-of-way purchases, relocation of utilities and water line utility upgrades.
Now, it’s a matter of finding those funds.
The city is looking at grants, including one through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to offset some of that cost. But, Nickel pointed out, applying for grants and landing them are two very different beasts.
“It’s not simple to get grants,” Nickel said. “I think our big thing is if we have enough interest, we’ll ask for a $2 million bond in the future because the roads benefit everybody. But I’m still going to apply for grants.”
Granite Shoals has a couple factors playing in its favor when it comes to grants: its population and median income of $34,000, which is $15,000 below the state’s median. Grant agencies, including the USDA, look at those numbers when determining which cities get grants.
The city manager said grants typically take two years for providers to review the application, the work and other questions before there’s approval.
As for the work itself, Phillips Ranch Road will receive ditches for drainage, while Prairie Creek Road will get curbing and gutters. Phillips Ranch Road gets curbing and gutters simply because it has more space on each side of the road.
“The ditches (on Prairie Creek Road) would have to go onto private property,” Nickel said. “We wouldn’t need ditches if we had curbs and gutters.”
While looking at the roads, city staff also examined the water lines and found some are 2 inches in diameter. Those will be replaced with 6-inch lines. And there’s a potential of moving utility lines to widen the roads.
The council also approved road repairs on all of Granitecastle and parts of Forest Oak, Lake Forest, Deep Forest, Shady Forest, Valley View and Poverty Street.
Nickel said it made little sense to improve the city’s top streets, Phillips Ranch Road and Prairie Creek, without addressing the surrounding streets.
While the cost might be high, the city manager said Granite Shoals must focus on the sense of the matter.
“We’re going to do road work that will last for 20 years,” he said. “We’re getting a two-for-one; we’re building two streets for the price of one. That, to me, is such a good opportunity. We’d be foolish not to proceed with this.”
The city has a total of 85 miles of roadway.
The council continued talks about the city’s airport. Resident Jim Tenny presented a history of the facility along with his research on funding.
In short, Tenny told the council that public funding will be difficult because of the size of the airport.
Regulations stipulate a public airport runway must by 3,400 feet; Granite Shoals’ runway is 2,000 feet.
Nickel said one benefit of talking about the airport and its future is that residents have signed up to serve on the re-established Airport Advisory Committee, which, at one time, only had two members. Since staff began looking at the airport, 13 people applied to be on the committee; seven were chosen with Councilman Tom Dillard serving as the council’s adviser.
The city manager said it’s important the Airport Advisory Committee continue to ensure the safety of the airport; it’s maintained and operations data is collected; there’s a plan for repairs and exploration of possible sources of revenue; ordinances match the city’s comprehensive plan; and operation logs are maintained.
The council also:
• received an update on conversations with Chris Allen, superintendent of Marble Falls Independent School District, regarding the creation of a soccer field next to Highland Lakes Elementary School. “The agreement would be that either Granite Shoals or our citizens would prepare the field and maintain it,” Nickel said. “There’s still a question of who would do that. We’re in discussions, that’s all I can tell you.”
• received a report on the energy audit from Jacob and Martin Engineering that specifically looked at the water treatment plant, old water treatment plant (raw water intake), Blue Briar Pump Station and King’s Cross Pump Station. The proposal told the city to address Facility Improvement Measures and Energy Conservation Measures in an estimated cost of $1,057,436 to be paid over 15 years in annual payments of $91,138. The cost savings in the first year would be $94,194 with a 3 percent annual increase that will provide a positive cash flow for the life of the payment period. Staff recommended passing because of the cost. “I want a return on investment of five years or less,” Nickel said. “They went in on a 15-year period. If it’s not five years, I’m not interested.”
• were told those interested in applying to serve on the wildlife management harvesting program involving deer and bowhunters should attend a meeting hosted by the Wildlife Committee at 6:30 p.m. March 24 at city hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Wildlife Committee members will outline the program and answer questions. After that, if hunters are still interested in participating in the program, they can pick up an application, fill it out and return it to city hall.