Weatherford’s bond proposal – good idea or bad idea

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

– General George S. Patton

 

Parker County Courthouse(09)Weatherford’s conceptual downtown plan

When I consider the wisdom in voting for the bond proposal to spend $16.5 million, my first question is – why?

Haven’t we been told since the Parker County 2008 transportation bond program, that the loop around Weatherford will all but eliminate transportation problems for Weatherford – that the loop would divert through traffic around Weatherford?

Terry Hughes, Weatherford’s Director of Transportation and Public Works wants to “recapture that old, historic feel, and be more pedestrian-friendly”.

Really? .… $16.5 million to make down town Weatherford more pedestrian-friendly?

Is traffic the real issue?-

Hughes said according to a Freese & Nichols study, 60 to 70 percent of the eastbound traffic along U.S. Highway 180 is through traffic, depending on the time of day. “On the North Main and South Main sides, it’s nearly 80 percent,” he said.

A couple of questions –

If traffic is really a serious concern, does it make more sense to give our investment in the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway and the proposed Eastern Loop time to work before squandering another $16.5 million in tax dollars?

Or…is the real reason for reaching into our pockets again, someone’s vision of a “pedestrian friendly” stroll back in time around the down-town Weatherford square?

More Increases coming your way –

Property Tax Increase – yep!

Another WISD Bond proposal – you can count on it!

Dramatic Insurance Rate Increase – a certainty!

Return on Investment –

Would Mr. Hughes care to tell the readers where to log on to find his Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) for this grand scheme? I’m sure he and other city planners want to be transparent with the tax payers they expect to blindly line up and vote in favor of this grand scheme. Surely he can show the vast majority of Weatherford tax payers how they will benefit from making down-town Weatherford more pedestrian-friendly!

Either there is a Cost Benefit Analysis for this boondoggle…. or there is not. Which is it Mr. Hughes?

I am certainly not criticizing Freese & Nichols. They should be expected to do only those things for which they have entered into a contract. Speaking as a citizen tax payer, I hold city government responsible for doing their homework BEFORE proposing another bond proposal. If they cannot show documentation that justifies this, or any other bond proposal, I believe it exposes gross ineptitude!

 

 _______________________

 The following was taken from the Weatherford Democrat, posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 9:17 pm, by Judy L Sheridan

<snip>

A walkable Weatherford 

Terry Hughes, City of Weatherford Director of Transportation and Public Works, gave a presentation on the City of Weatherford’s conceptual downtown plan, which he said accounts for $14 million of the $16.5 million bond proposition on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Designed to “recapture that old, historic feel,” and be more pedestrian-friendly, the new plan would develop a loop on the north side of the square to divert east-west traffic from the downtown and create one-way roads to affect the north-south traffic flow.

“This inner loop would come up from Santa Fe Drive., up Spring Street, connect over to Bridge Street, take Bridge Street over to loop around and go down into Alamo Street and back into Palo Pinto Street,” Hughes said.

“The concept there is if we neck down to U.S. Highway 180, we will force through traffic to the north side. This would be designed in such a way that the signals along here all link together, they change at the same time and make that There is no room for a loop on the south side of the square, Hughes said, but the same thing could be accomplished on North Main Street and South Main Street using one-way roads.

“We could convert Alamo — at least down to Oak Street — as one-way south and Oak Street as one-way over to South Main. Oak Street continues to be one-way over to Elm, which is two-way flow north and south.

“That would allow traffic flow from the south to bypass the downtown, and traffic moving to the south can go around and out and through to the south.”

According to a study done by Freese & Nichols, some 60 to 70 percent of the eastbound traffic along U.S. Highway 180 is through traffic, Hughes said, depending on the time of day.

“On the North Main and South Main sides, it’s nearly 80 percent,” he said. “The idea here is to at least affect some of that traffic and get it out of here.”

If the bond passes, Hughes said, the city would phase the downtown plan in over about three years, starting with the loop.

“It is a rather radical and different way about thinking about downtown,” he said.

“We’ve been talking about downtown since 1962. I have plan after plan after plan. We’re not dying for lack of plans, we’re dying from lack of doing anything.”

Hughes reminded the court that dealing with state highways means cooperating with the state.

“We are working with trying to get this system off the city,” he said, “so we can take over ownership. Once we’ve re-routed the state highways, it will allow us to do this particular project without going through your normal [lengthy] federal and state processes.”

east-west flow move a lot better.”

“You think it won’t affect the businesses?” Precinct No. 1 Commissioner George Conley asked. “You think there’ll still be a lot of people coming in to use the businesses?”

“I’m not sure if you’re driving through the square that you even see the businesses,” Hughes replied. “You’re coming through here dodging traffic, so you don’t get impulse buyers.”

Judge Mark Riley said the court was working to secure funding for the Interstate 20 interchange with Centerpoint Road, the starting point for the Eastern Loop around Weatherford.

“That will have an impact for downtown as well as all of Parker County,” he said.

Downtown plan improvements

The City of Weatherford estimates that a Weatherford resident with the average home value of $135,764 will pay about $102 more per year if the $16.5 million bond proposition is approved Nov. 4.

<snip>

 ________________________

 From the official Parker County website, the following was posted: October 17, 2014

PARKER COUNTY TO HOLD COMMISSIONERS COURT MEETING ON EAST LOOP

Parker County is inviting area residents to attend a Commissioners Court meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 at the Tison Middle School cafeteria to discuss the future of the East Loop and its’ potential alignment.

The Eastern Loop is an approximate 6 mile continuation of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, which runs from I-20 west of Weatherford and currently ends at FM 51 north of Weatherford.

Maps of the potential alignment will be available from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Freese and Nichols, Parker County’s engineering firm handling the county’s 2008 bond program, will then give a short presentation on the roadway, followed by a brief question and answer session ending at 7:30.

Parker County Commissioners Court worked with Freese and Nichols earlier this year to secure approval to combine some of the required studies involved in the project thereby speeding up the time line on the start of construction, when funding becomes available.

“There is currently no funding to construct the East Loop,” Parker County Judge Mark Riley said. “We are holding this meeting for our residents to show them what the potential alignment of the road would be, when and if funding becomes available.”

Parker County added the Eastern Loop to its Transportation Bond Program in April of 2012 with the development of a conceptual design plan and a plan to move forward on the required studies that come with projects that tie into U.S. Interstates.

Tison Middle School is located at 102 Meadowview Road in Weatherford.

-End-

 

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7 responses

  1. Senator_Blutarsky | Reply

    In the United States, it is not just the federal government that has a horrific debt problem. Today, state and local governments across America are collectively deeper in debt than they ever have been before. In fact, state and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP. Once upon a time, municipal bonds (used to fund such things as roads, sewer systems and government buildings) were viewed as incredibly safe investments. They were considered to have virtually no risk. But now all of that has changed. Many analysts are now openly speaking of the possibility of a municipal bond market crash in 2015. The truth is that dozens upon dozens of city and county governments are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Even the debt of some of our biggest state governments, such as Illinois and California, is essentially considered to be “junk” at this point. There are literally hundreds of governmental financial implosions happening in slow motion from coast to coast, and up to this point not a lot of people in the mainstream media have been talking about it.

    If the municipal bond market crashes, and investors around the world are no longer willing to hand over gigantic sacks of cash to state and local governments in the United States, then the game is over. Either state and local governments will have to raise taxes or they will have to start spending within their means.

    Most Americans have no idea what this would mean. For decade after decade, state and local governments throughout the nation have been living way, way, way above their means. If the debt cycle gets cut off, it is going to mean that many local communities around the nation will start degenerating into rotting hellholes nearly overnight.

    We are already seeing this happen in places such as Detroit, Michigan and Camden, New Jersey but if the municipal bond market totally collapses we are quickly going to have dozens of Detroits and Camdens from coast to coast.

    State and local governments across the United States are facing a complete and total financial nightmare. The 60 Minutes report posted below does a pretty good job of describing the problem but it doesn’t even pretend to come up with any solutions….

    Fortunately, a recent report on 60 Minutes has brought these issues to light. If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor and click on the video below and spend a few minutes watching it. It is absolutely stunning.

    In the piece, one of the people that 60 Minutes interviewed was Meredith Whitney – one of the most respected financial analysts in the United States. According to Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a massive threat to our financial system….

    “It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/state-budgets-the-day-of-reckoning/

    Bad plan. Very bad timing.

    Let me repeat from above – Either state and local governments will have to raise taxes or they will have to start spending within their means.

  2. There needs to be an investigation into the relationship between Judge “Lightrail” Riley and Freeze &Nichols….something is not on the up and up. When questioned about the loop and the direction they took to build it, Riley always points back and says it was Freeze & Nichols reccomendation. Why would we as a County, Community, or neighborhood let an engineering firm decide where we need roads built, roads changed, or our downtown more pedestrian friendly. I really don’t see that many people walking around downtown, and believe it or not, it’s fairly pedestrian friendly already. I realize this is about a Municipal bond, again how much money does the city owe on other bonds they’ve passed and how much interest are we paying? They never come clean on past money, and they lie to you about what the bond money is going to go for from the start. It would be also interesting to know how much money has been paid to Freeze & Nichols from the NCTCOG. I’d like to know how bad the collusion really is. Nothing is wrong with downtown Weatherford, and it needs a Pedestrian friendly downtown just as bad as Springtown needed a loop, which they got…probably done by Freeze & Nichols. When are the people going to wake up and realize that we do not need any more taxes. At some point I don’t have any more money…you can’t just keep raising taxes and raising taxes…mostly for the benefit of people who don’t even pay taxes.

    1. Senator_Blutarsky | Reply

      It has long been a rather incestuous relationship, between the Parker County “officialdom” and the City of Weatherford – and their “consultants”.

      Both look for a “justification” to spend,spend,spend as if some ridiculous grandiose project will somehow enhance the legacy of a 2-bit local potentate….never mind some occasional graft and inside bennies for the privileged.

      Voters should slap down this silliness , resoundingly.

  3. The pattern repeats itself time and time again.
    Step 1. A government body announces that there is a CRISIS. Never mind that no logical citizen has noticed the crisis; “trust us, this is bad!”
    Step 2. The government announces that they have come up with a remedy for this travesty…. More money. “give us some more money and we can fix this.”
    Step 3. Anyone questioning the action plan is labeled as ignorant or “lacks vision”.
    When will we learn? This time, maybe?
    Sadly, I doubt it.

    1. Senator_Blutarsky | Reply

      Damon

      Hegel’s Dialetic at work – problem (real , over-hyped or imagined),… reaction, …solution.

      It always leads to a “governmental” solution to some so-called problem, to a usually negligible or non-existent threat/problem.

      Always………always……the public ends up bearing the burden & the taxation.

  4. Hopefully the citizens of Weatherford will get out and vote NO to end this ridiculous loop idea, which will raise taxes and benefit a small minority. But sadly, I have a feeling most don’t even know about the bond proposal, and even if they did, probably wouldn’t vote anyway.

  5. I am wondering what the justification is for such a large amount. So far I have been able to learn only a modicum of any concrete details. There have been proposals put forth for years with respect to any number of schemes aimed at “Renewing the City Center”. Some made a bit of sense, others were just plain goofy. From where I stand it would appear that most of the renewal needs to be done by the property owners surrounding the city center. Some certainly have improved the appearance of their structures over the years. Many have not. Some appear virtually as derelicts. I’m not sure what $16.5 million will do to fix this situation. We need lawyers but downtown looks like lawyer’s row. The concentration of law offices precludes any serious downtown pedestrian traffic except by lawyers, their employees or those persons seeking one out.

    Traffic is very heavy at certain times of day. One quick aid would be to have the large commercial trucks use the loop, even if they have to travel west briefly to go east, and not the courthouse square. So far as I can tell the only commercial vehicles actually making stops downtown are few in number and even then the trucks are mostly delivery vans or equivalent.

    It is possible I am misreading the situation. Weatherford has become the pothole capitol of Texas. Many of the streets are so bad it could indeed be that people will soon be reduced to walking or at least reverting to horseback since even bicycling is difficult and dangerous on many of the terrible streets. Is this then the reason for the concern with respect to increased pedestrian traffic? Should this ultimately be the case then increased concern for pedestrians might be justified.

    One thing for sure, Weatherford should not spend a large sum of money on an additional street system that will be poorly maintained to the standard of the other streets. Why not consider fixing what we already have, reroute the largest trucks and see if an improvement is noticed, before Weatherford lurches into the most expensive yet unproved remedy before even seriously considering other options.

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