A special called budget meeting for the City of Van Alstyne on Friday, Aug. 18 led to the decision to unfund phase two of the Shared Use Path—an idea brought to the City Council four years ago—which led to mixed responses from the community.
Community feedback for this decision appeared assorted, with some community members favoring the bike path project for safety purposes and others insisting that there were different matters that needed addressing first. Commenting on the Live in Van Alstyne Facebook page, several community members expressed interest in having the roads repaved before other projects, such as the bike path, were focused on.
Funding for the bike path, however, was unrelated to funding for city street repairs. The passing of a recent bond has already put money into street repairs, activity which is now visible as city side streets undergo the process of being repaved.
“Street repairs are (and have been) a point of focus in Van Alstyne. There is great support for the improvements in our roads throughout the community,” said councilman Brad Clough, who currently sits on alderman place one, in an e-mail.
In May the voters approved Proposition 3 with overwhelming approval, according to Clough. This authorized sales and use tax to be used for road maintenance and repair.
“Proposition 3 was a continuation of a current streets program. In short, the streets are already a focus,” Clough stated, a statement that Mayor Larry Cooper agreed with.
Clough elaborated that the city engineer explained that in the last five years of this street program, over 10 miles of roads have been resurfaced.
The specifics for the Proposition 3 ballot stipulate that the local sales and use tax was to be reauthorized at one-fourth of one percent to continue providing funds for repair and maintenance of municipal streets.
The tax funds allocated for this project were entirely unrelated to the Shared Use Path proposition—a project that would not have been funded through sales and use tax. Clough said the Shared use Path was instead an 80/20 government grant, meaning Van Alstyne would pay 20%, with the grant covering 80% of the costs.
“The plan for phase 2 would have replaced the culverts along Dallas St. with curb and gutters on both sides of the street topped with a 6 [foot] path on each side of the road,” Clough stated on behalf of the council. “The strategy was to place the burden of upgrading the drainage in that area on the grant money.”
Clough said that, in his personal opinion, this was part of a larger long-term effort to improve infrastructure with a steep discount to Van Alstyne. He added that the Georgetown neighborhood openly has the nicest streets in town, which were paid for by the developers, with curb and gutter being part of the road structure.
“This was a means of helping the other parts of town move towards that type of road structure,” said Clough on the phase plans.
City Manager Frank Baker added that if the EDC and CDC continue their contributions, the city match will drop to 15%, with state reimbursement of 85%.