Salado Village Voice put the following questions to the Mayoral and Aldermen candidates. Early voting begins on April 23.
Question 1: There have been preliminary discussions of a landowner giving property to the village that would serve as a small day-time only airport (operated by the municipality). The developer would retain the surrounding property to sell hangars/apartments to owners of small airplanes. All of the property, to include the hangars/apartments, would be annexed into the Village. Is this good or bad for the Village? Why? (200 words)
Question 2: What is your opinion on the future of The Sanctuary development and its impact on the Village? (300 words)
Question 3: What is your opinion on the maintenance, operation and use of Pace Park property? (250 words)
QUESTION 1: Nothing is ever free. As enticing as it may appear to bring more land area into the city limits, there is a cost to be paid. Running an airport, no matter how small is expensive. Major areas of concern are Noise Abatement, Compliance & Safety Inspections, Facilities Management, and Property Management. Noise abatement will affect the residents of Salado especially if more small aircraft are using the airport. Compliance with Federal, State and local standards is not a job for the amateur. Fuel and oil EPA standards and hazardous spill recovery teams will need to be in place. National Transportation Safety Board notification processes and procedures will need to be in place should an accident occur. Regular safety inspections will be required; runway sweeping and repairs, cleaning, debris removal, and maintenance of unpaved areas to include grass control. All this, and more, will require a full time Airport Manager and most likely additional staff, or additional funding to contract out services. I have only discussed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to airport operations. I love to fly; however, Salado is not in a position financially to properly support such an endeavor at this time.
QUESTION 2: It is my opinion that once the sewer system is fully operational we may start to see movement on the Sanctuary Project. The sewer system is critical for the Sanctuary infrastructure. The additional housing will greatly contribute to the maintenance and operating cost of the sewer system. Development of commercial property will bring much needed revenue to the Village.
QUESTION 3: Pace Park is a jewel to the Village of Salado. Anyone who has taken the time to walk along the creek and attend the numerous activities held at the park knows just how special it is. Unfortunately, the reality is that historically, the maintenance and operational costs, born by the Salado taxpayer, have exceeded the revenue collected by the users. Recently, a Park Advisory Board has been established and I had the privilege of attending one of their public input sessions. The current BOA has set aside $20K toward the Park. There are great ideas of how to improve the Park, but I am still concerned on how the park can be made self-supporting financially.
QUESTION 1: Right now we need to focus on the sewer and insure we can afford the maintenance and operation (M&O) of a wastewater plant without all the development promised by Hanks Jr/Sulaski.
Only candidates skip, Dave Williams and Frank Coachman have been in on the discussions about an airport. I tried to poll as many voters as I could reach and no one expressed a positive response to the village owning an airport.
I remember when Frank Coachman brought the airport idea up at a BOA meeting. It was about a year ago, and at the time I thought this is just a red herring to keep everyone’s mind off the fact that the village was going to be paying over $500,000 a year in interest and capital to a “bank” in Dallas while no sewer was in sight!
Now it rears up again at election time? The leaders want voters to believe it makes sense to repair and pave airport runways so a developer can build money making rentals?
Does the whole Sanctuary Deal signed by Skip, Dave Williams and Frank Coachman not teach us anything? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Bad idea for Salado….good deal for the developer if he can just get the mayor to sign off. Please don’t use your pen, mayor! Let’s wait for the land to come up for sale, or likely foreclosure, and consider it as a sensible municipal investment down the road.
QUESTION 2: Was the Sanctuary pronounced dead at a Town Hall meeting in January? If that is true, the impact will be hanging over the Village budget for many years. Forty-five (45) to be precise. My greatest fear is all the grandiose promises will fade away and all the Sanctuary land will pass from developer to developer.
Could I be wrong? I pray each night that I am.
QUESTION 3:. Pace park is an Historic Park in the Historic District. Salado Creek has Texas natural Landmark status designated by the State of Texas in 1966.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a bridge across from Pace Park to Village owned land on the Southside….a bridge for walkers, baby carriages and wheel chairs?
One of the reasons our development ordinances includes a requirement that a developer must set aside park land OR pay the village to support parks, is to help the residents pay for maintenance and operation.
As of now, the Village has not even seen fit to include the park restrooms on the sewer.
If there is not the will, energy and money from the Village to take care of the park, we might as well give it back to the Paces to build a family retreat! At least we could collect property taxes.
Question 1: Complete story:
1. Approximately 6-weeks ago, the owner of a small limited-use airfield, south of Salado, approached our Village Administrator, Don Ferguson, about the development of his facility into a general aviation airport. Two options were discussed:
2. Option 1: the Village and owner jointly develop the general airfield.
3. Option 2: Village purchases runway, taxiways, and fueling facility after owner develops the general airport. Owner would retain and sell individual hanger spaces.
4. The proposition and 2-options were presented to the BOA who discussed them at length. Option 2 was of interest to the BOA.
5. Matching GRANT funds from TxDOT Aviation Division are available for general aviation facilities’ development. However, the proposed General Airport must be part of the State Aviation Plan. A Village request is being submitted to TxDOT for a feasibility study to determine the airport’s eligibility for the State Aviation Plan.
Until more study and discussions are completed, “good” or “bad” is only speculation. Hurried decisions without serious study, will cause costly mistakes. However, careful study and discussions, may prove the proposition a dynamic Village-plus. “No one builds a house without first counting the cost” . . . and listening to the people.
Question 2: Known Facts:
1. Sanctuary’s 302-acres in Village city limits
2. At no Village cost, a permit to build up-to a 600,000-gallon Waste Water Treatment (WWT) Plant and 5-tree-covered acres with no close houses.
3. A 200,000 gallon WWT Plant is being built on the 5-acres using the permit.
4. Business, residential, and historical acreage determined by Village
5. April 14, Wildfire Roping Arena’s structure (not land) auctioned and moved.
6. Sanctuary’s land is not currently sold.
7. Sanctuary will pay for their sewer lines, hook-up, and the use of the WWT Plant.
8. Village officials are not aware of businesses being built on Sanctuary land. A Music Concert Theater is still planned. HEB considered building south of the Roping arena but have made no plans.
9. With the sewer and plant construction, surveying the land, at Sanctuary’s expense, is occurring.
10. Other than the permit and 5-acres of land, no money, gifts, trips and/or perks from Sanctuary or anyone else were received.
Sanctuary’s development future is not known. Some speculate “flipping” the land for quick profit; others speculate “nothing will happen and eventually will be sold;” and some speculate that “Sanctuary was waiting for the sewer project to begin and will now continue with plans.”
1. With Sanctuary in city limits, Village has voice on what is built.
2. Future property and sale taxes will pay for Salado’s infrastructure — roads, police, and parks.
3. Sanctuary had completed the MUDD application. Upon approval, Sanctuary would have become a Village with an elected governing Board of Directors. There would be Sanctuary Village and Salado Village.
4. If Sanctuary had not annexed into the Village, Salado would have limited growth with little financial resources for infrastructure improvements. Raising property taxes would be only alternative.
Question 3: Complete story:
1. In the latter part of 2017, Pace Park Trustees felt that they could no longer be responsible for Pace Park due to financial resources and age.
2. The Rotary expressed interest in assuming the role of the Trustees if the Village did not want to assume responsibility.
3. The BOA researched, studied, and discussed with the Rotary the options. It was agreed that the Village elected officials would be the Pace Park Trustees, and a working Committee of Service Organizations and citizens named to plan and recommend to the BOA how the Park will be used.
4. The BOA voted and approved this arrangement. The Village elected officials are the Trustees and the Parks Committee is organized and meeting regularly.
5. Village events for all ages, play grounds, restrooms, and picnic areas are being planned. Grants are being researched to help maintain the Park. Service groups and the Village will also share in the cost. Keep Salado Beautiful is actively involved in ways to enhance the Park’s beauty. Pace Park road improvements are a must.
6. The Village is working on an Ordinance to keep the Village safe and free of vandalism.
It is a known fact that well maintained Parks and Roads are necessary to keep property values improving. Construction is over, the sewer will be completed in January; and Main Street sidewalks and street lights are scheduled for early next year. It is now time to turn our focus on improvements, care and maintenance.
Editor’s Note: We will have another round of questions next week! All profiles and questions and answers are also posted online at saladovillagevoice.com.