11th Street plans back on city agenda tonight
On Thursday, Feb. 3, the Port Aransas City Council voted 5-1 to present voters with a $5 million bond issue that, if approved, would pay for major work throughout the length of 11th Street in the future. In making that choice, the council rejected more expensive options that would have more fully improved the street and a less expensive option that would have funded a minimal amount of work.
Councilman John Price cast the lone dissenting vote, saying that he wanted to present voters with a $6.4 million plan for the road. Price still is hoping that council members will change their minds and side with him. He has moved to put the matter on the agenda for the council meeting scheduled for today, Thursday, Feb. 17.
The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at council chambers, 710 W. Avenue A.
Eleventh Street is a major thoroughfare that serves thousands of residents and tourists. Lined by hotels, condominiums and homes, most of the artery is a bumpy two-lane road.
The full council agrees that 11th Street needs some sort of fix, and council members want to fund it through a bond package that would have to be approved by voters in the May 14 city election.
The only question is how big the proposal should be.
The $5 million package would involve a full rebuild throughout most of the length of 11th Street, from Avenue G to Royal Palm Lane, where some of the most densely populated parts of the thoroughfare lie. It also would mean inserting a center turn lane in that stretch.
The package also would provide for installing underground drainage with curbs and gutters on the north end of 11th Street and building a concrete hike-andbike path along one side of the street and a sidewalk along the other side, from Avenue J to Royal Palm Lane.
The section of 11th Street from Royal Palm to Access Road 1A would get a new road base and new asphalt, but no underground drainage, no curbs and gutters and no center turn lane. It would get an asphalt bike path.
The city’s tax rate currently is 33.2023 cents per $100 valuation. If approved by voters, the $5 million option will mean taxes will go up 3.087 cents, according to Darla Honea, the city’s finance director.
The average market value of a home in Port Aransas, with a homestead exemption, is $199,471, according to Honea’s office. With a 3.087-cent tax increase, that property owner would see $61.58 added to his tax bill, Honea said.
The $6.4 million package would mean a complete rebuild of the full length of the street, with center turn lanes inserted and underground drainage, curbs and gutters installed from Avenue J to Access Road 1A. It would involve construction of a concrete hikeand bike path on one side of the street and a sidewalk on the other throughout the entire length of the street, except for in a relatively small area where a sidewalk already exists. Gas and water line work also would be done.
The $6.4 million option would mean a tax increase of 4.137 cents, which would add about $82.52 to the average homeowner’s tax bill, Honea said.
To get a concept ready in time for the May 14 election, the council has until March 14 to make a decision on a detailed bond package, with specifics on what kind of work would be done on what parts of the street, how much it would cost and how much taxes would go up to pay for the project, said City Manager Robert Bradshaw.
Price said the council moved too hastily in voting for the $5 million option. He said he supports the $6.4 million option and hopes a majority of council members will end up agreeing with him and changing their votes.
Price said part of his reasoning lies in the fact that 11th Street will remain an important roadway for this town’s tourists and residents for many years in the future, so he wants to see more farreaching work done on the street.
With continued development, the road eventually will need the kind of work that the $6.4 million option would provide, Price said. Contractor prices also are a factor, he said.
“I think it will never be any cheaper” to get the work done, Price said. “Construction costs are only going to keep going up.”
Price said he has seen “a wave of public support” for the $6.4 million option. He said he expects some members of the public to speak in favor of the option during the council meeting today.
Councilman Keith Donley could end up voting with Price. He didn’t make it to the Feb. 3 council meeting because of a doctor appointment, but he sent word that he preferred the $6.4 million option.
Mayor Keith McMullin said he agrees that 11th Street is an important thoroughfare that needs major work, but he still prefers the $5 million option.
“For myself, nothing fundamentally has changed,” McMullin said. “I don’t know anything now that I didn’t know (during the Feb. 3 meeting). I am confident in the decision I made the first time, so I don’t see any reason to change it.”
The mayor said he voted for the $5 million option to save taxpayers money.
“I think 11th clearly needs to be improved,” McMullin said. “That is a given. I think the $5 million option improves all of 11th Street, and it puts the bulk of added capacity where it needs to be, which is where the density and the higher traffic is.
“The improvements on south end will provide a top-notch driving surface, which is sorely needed, as well as the eight-foot pedestrian connectivity to Access Road 1A, which council has considered to be a must,” McMullin said.
Councilman Rick Pratt said at the Feb. 3 meeting that the $5 million option seemed the proper choice because it provides for adequate improvements without burdening taxpayers with a bill that’s too big. For many folks, Pratt said, economic times are tough right now.
If money was no object, McMullin said, the $6.4 million option would be the right choice.
“But money is an object,” he said.
There’s a danger that voters won’t approve an 11th Street bond issue if the price is too high, the mayor said.