Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Recent assertions surrounding the Stephenville City Council’s consideration of the feasibility of a multi-purpose center are false and misleading.

In a published letter, Mayor Kenny Weldon and I were imputed to have been at meetings where consultants met with focus groups “promoting their ideas to be included in the study.” I was neither invited nor did I attend such meetings.  My participation in this process has been as a citizen responding to the Chamber of Commerce’s online survey that was part of the feasibility study.

In addition to my involvement as a local citizen, as a city council member I have attended all of the open meetings and workshops related to the proposed multi-purpose center.

The meetings the consultants held with community groups were to obtain diverse feedback to determine local needs and wants. Residents and business owners were invited to voice their opinions about the prospective project.  Stakeholder interviews were also part of the feasibility study.

In the published letter, a claim was made in regard to “the integrity of the process itself.” Such concerns are false and groundless. This entire process has been completely transparent and available for the public to participate—online or in person. To question the integrity is absurd and malicious.

At this stage the proposed multipurpose center is envisioned to include the following: a new library, a new senior center, a conference facility, and indoor recreation facilities. Other amenities that may be included will be assessed by local demand.

Because of its proximity to the airport, the recommended location on Highway 67 is vital to the success of the effort. Additionally the land adjoins undeveloped city-owned property which will reduce the cost.  The study findings reveal that this project will be a catalyst for economic development in Stephenville and the surrounding area.

Claims that this project will be a burden for the taxpayers are also false. The city cannot borrow the required funds and voters likely will not approve a bond issue to do so. Proposed funding for this project is anticipated to come from private investors and contributors. The feasibility study reveals that the establishment of a tax increment reinvestment zone as part of a financing strategy will provide additional and dedicated funds for infrastructure and encourage growth.

Information regarding the Stephenville multi-purpose center feasibility analysis can be found online at: http://weblink.stephenvilletx.gov:8080/weblink8/DocView.aspx?id=84697&dbid=1Stephenvilletx.gov

Russ McDanel

Mayor Pro Tem

Council Member Place 4

Stephenville, Texas

1 Comment

  1. Councilman McDanel is being truthful when he says private investors will most likely fund this project. As he stated, it is very doubtful that citizens would pass a bond issue of that magnitude. Therefore, financing would be through an investment group. But, let’s be totally transparent, an investment group would not spend $26,000,000 out of the goodness of their heart or as pure philanthropy. The investment group would put together the financing for the project, and in return the city would sign a long-term contract for use of the facilities. It’s smoke and mirrors. Since members of the council know that voters wouldn’t approve the projected $26,000,000 cost of the facility, it’s a backdoor way to get it with citizens still holding the bill through the lease payment which would be substantial on a $26,000,000 investment.

    I apologize to Councilman McDanel for my error in thinking he was also present at meetings with the consultant as I was told by a council member that they believed him to be present. I know that the mayor was present as the consultant made frequent references to the presence of the mayor at the focus meetings during his presentation to the council.

    I do know that the mayor has not been totally transparent with council members. Citizens can watch the video of the Nov. 30 council meeting for themselves. (on Stephenville City website) When council member Jerry Warren asked the mayor the price of the proposed 8 acre purchase, Mayor Weldon parried that he did not know. However, only a minute or two later, Mayor Weldon responded that he could not recall the price. Only after pointedly asking City Manager Bridges the anticipated purchase price of the land purchase from the church did Councilman Warren finally get the answer he sought which was $850,000. It is incredible to me that council members approved a $15,000 study on the feasibilty of a multi-purpose center, and yet those council members were not told the proposed cost of the land.

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