Improvements to the Cleveland Municipal Airport and funded by the Texas Department of Transportation have been stalled in recent months, but it appears those projects will soon be moving forward again.
On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Cleveland City Council was updated by Craig Claremont, P.E., with KSA Engineers, Inc., the firm hired by the City for the airport improvement project.
Claremont explained that the project hit a roadblock due to the way it was bid out to contractors. With TxDOT initially requiring contractors to bid on both the asphalting the taxiway and installing new aviation lights, a low number of bids was received, which impacted the quality of the bids.
“There were a lot of smaller contractors struggling to bid. They were familiar with paving but not familiar with airfield electrical. We think that could have contributed to the low bid turnout,” Claremont said. “We were finally able to get TxDOT to agree to split the project up. They can award one project and not the other depending on the quality of bids received.”
While there is some forward movement on the project, it will still take another two months or so for TxDOT to get under contract with the selected bidders.
“Paving might have to wait until spring due to the weather,” Claremont said.
Grant funding and how grants are administrated by the City were topics of discussion a twice more in the meeting. First, Council heard a presentation from Nick Finan, client services consultant for Grant Works, who was there to pitch his company. Council also heard about some possible funding the City may receive through a Community Development Block Grant being administered through the Texas General Land Office related to Hurricane Harvey recovery.
The City has not yet secured the grant funding, however, it is slated to receive $1.498 million. The terms of the grant require that at least $749,150 be used for projects that benefit low to moderate income areas of the City, and may be used to make water, sewer, drainage and street improvements.
Council also authorized use of the municipal ball park at no charge to the Play for Kade organization’s fifth annual softball and baseball tournament, set for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7 and 8. The tournament raises funds that go directly into the community through the sponsorship of young athletes and teams, by promoting organ donation and helping kids with school supplies. Council agreed for the in-kind use of the park and will be recognized as a sponsor of the baseball tournament.
In other business, Ashleigh Broussard, director of the Cleveland Civic Center, Stancil Park and the municipal park, told Council she was asked a few meetings back to address the City’s policy on facility in-kind use.
“I understand that the biggest issue is we are a business and have to make revenue. We have employees who still have to be paid, lights have to be kept on, not just for the civic center but for Stancil Park and the municipal park. The proposed nonprofit rental rate for the civic center will be 25 percent [of the usual rate],” Broussard said.
Nonprofits will be required to prove their status as a charitable organization in order to move forward with their requests.
“For Stancil Park, we looked at a 20 percent discount rate,” Broussard said, as the fees to rent Stancil Park are lower than the civic center. The policy was approved by Council.
Food Truck Fusion, a food truck event held on the last Thursday of every month, has been gaining interest at its new location at the corner of W. Hanson and San Jacinto streets at the site of the former Cleveland fire station. The City and EDC have discussed the possibility of making the location into a pocket park that can also be used for Christmas decorations, outdoor music events and other attractions.
Food Truck Fusion was previously held at Stancil Park. Broussard said vendors appear to like the new location as it provides better visibility to traffic. Entergy, she added, has agreed to install lighting at the property.
Council discussed the merits of using the property as a pocket park; however, there are concerns with traffic on San Jacinto Street. W. Hanson St. was once a busy street but that has changed now that Union Pacific has closed the railroad crossing at that location.
City Attorney Mary Ann Powell advised Council that once the property is designated a park, it will remain a park, and that they should give it more consideration before making a decision.
Council also recognized two police officers – Officer Jeffrey Arnett Jr. and Sgt. David Edwards – for their longevity with the City. Arnett has served five years while Edwards has devoted the last 20 years to the department.