By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 16, 2015) — The City of Stephenville is taking a serious look into the development of city owned rodeo and conference facilities.
A $15,500 look.
In a split vote Tuesday with six in favor and two – Rhett Harrison and Alan Nix – against, Stephenville City Council approved an agreement with Burditt Consultants, LLC. out of Conroe to provide a feasibility study for the potential multi-purpose facilities.
“The purpose of the feasibility study is just to be in an exploring options mode. There’s really no decision that’s been made either way,” says Stephenville Mayor Kenny Weldon. “We’re just gathering facts to be ready to make the best decision down the road.”
According to a Burditt Consultants memo written by managing principal Charles Burditt and addressed to Stephenville Director of Community Services Jeremy Allen, Burditt will be operating under the assumption the city is planning new rodeo and conference facilities on property off Glen Rose Highway – US Highway 67 North – adjacent to Stephenville Clark Regional Airport. The city already owns one of the necessary parcels of land and is looking to acquire two additional parcels that include a pre-existing structure to serve as the future conference center.
“With the airport extending its runway, that will increase its use, so we’re looking at ways to capitalize on that,” Weldon said. “We already have a waiting list for hanger space out there, and when we increase the length of the runway that will make the airport even more attractive to use.”
Preliminary needs for a rodeo arena have been provided by the Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo Association, which councilman and public finance committee chairperson Doug Svien says has committed to funding 25 percent, or $3,875, of study costs.
Burditt says the project will “expand not only local economic development but also create infrastructure improvements within the community.” The memo states the study will also consider the city’s plans for a dog park and animal shelter improvements.
“With existing local events, business and local youth extracurricular needs, a new city owned rodeo arena and conference center could be used to incentivize further economic and community development,” states the memo. “Additionally, a new multi-event center would accommodate other venues that may come to the complex to take advantage of the new facility’s flexibility and expanded parking.”
The study is expected to be completed within 60 days of commencement, according to the memo, and is being overseen by someone with knowledge of the Stephenville area.
“The owner of the company is a Tarleton graduate and participated in the economic bus tour the community hosted,” Weldon said. “Actually what we’re doing is tapping into their expertise, with the added bonus of having it be with someone familiar with our community.”
Weldon says an ongoing internal study will also assist in decision making.
“There’s another effort ongoing from (Allen) that is a needs assessment potential uses and potential demands for us to consider as part of this,” Weldon said. “That study has been going on for several months now.”
In the end, the mayor says it’s about doing ‘due diligence.’
“It’s something that I think is worth looking into, and that’s all we’re doing at this point,” he said. “How do you know whether or not to do something if you don’t do some due diligence.”
Photos of sections of the memo below show the scope and objectives of the study: