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EDC tables action on additional Constitution Drive funding

Cove Leader-Press 

The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation board of directors tabled a decision to allocate any additional funding for the reconstruction of Constitution Drive, during their Feb. 22 meeting. 
The City of Copperas Cove received only one bid to reconstruct that roadway from the intersection of Business 190 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. At the Feb. 7 city council meeting, the council was informed that the project had come in over bid.
The EDC has already committed $2 million of its funds for the project. 
Fred Welch, the EDC’s executive director, told the board that he was seeking direction on a way to go, and that the bid had come in around $2.354 million. So far, the EDC has paid about $150,000 toward engineering costs for the project. 
“Our budget this year does have $550,000 in it that might be considered for an approved city project, but I know that the city is looking at some work along State Highway 9 too,” Welch told the board, referring to the future exit ramp from State Highway 9 that will connect with Constitution Drive.  
Copperas Cove City Manager Ryan Haverlah was present at the meeting and Welch called on him to further explain to the board. 
He said that the specific amount that exceeds the existing budget is $527,709, and what was included in the letter was an additional request of 8% as a contingency for potential change orders that might exist, and that the amount requested is as much as $716,000 additional for the project. 
“Mr. Welch was talking about the effort for the ramp from State Highway 9 to Business 190. Again, it is not directly related to this project but would be impacted by this project. The city is moving forward in working with TxDOT and securing a design firm to design that project. It is my intention to recommend that Council fund that design work through city funds so that we can begin that effort.” 
He said that TxDOT has verbally committed that if the City designs the project, they will work with them to move the construction funding for that ramp sooner than 2025.
“The Constitution Drive project is intended to be the tie-in for that ramp, so that ramp would actually come off State Highway 9 and actually directly intersect at 90 degrees with Constitution Drive to create a four-way intersection at Constitution and Business 190.”
He said that by the EDC potentially funding the amount that has come in over budget with the existing bid for Constitution Drive, it actually sets up the ramp project from State Highway 9 to Business 190 and Constitution, to create a completely updated road. 
“We are very grateful that the EDC funded $2 million of the project and we proceeded with that, and we’re just trying to finish out the project and make it a success.”
Welch told the board that the EDC has approximately $6 million in reserves, with $2 million of that already earmarked for Constitution Drive. 
He said that the board could opt to allocate funding from the EDC’s reserve to cover the overage, or to take some out of the EDC’s operating account, because the EDC has a considerable amount beyond its 90-day operating reserves. 
Another thing to consider is that the EDC is looking to put infrastructure into the project on Mashburn Drive development, as the EDC will need to purchase at least 20 acres, and that it has to be EDC ownership or the city’s ownership, to get an (Economic Development Association) EDA grant. 
EDC board chair J.C. Stubbs asked Haverlah if the Constitution Drive reconstruction project was combined with the State Highway 9 ramp project, that maybe the city might get better economy of scale and maybe a better price. 
“I know it’s down the line, and we don’t know what construction prices are going to do. But, you received one (bid), so you have nothing to compare it to.”
Haverlah said that most of the city’s projects over the last two years have exceeded the engineer’s probable cost. He said it was not surprising to him that the project came in above budget, but the first time when the project was bid, they were surprised to receive zero bids. This time around, Ryan said that they were actively communicating with four interested contractors up front and then received one bid.
The EDC will bring this item back its March meeting.
The EDC board did vote to approve the EDC crafting and publishing an RFP for grant writing services to assist in the submission of an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant,
to support land development along Mashburn Drive. 
The board also approved a consultation agreement between the CCEDC and NaviRetail, which will conduct a marketing analysis and create recruitment strategies to attract targeted commercial and retail businesses. 
Welch said that this item was coming to the board as a result of the city council retreat held in early February, during which several goals came. The resulting product will help the EDC to proceed with the multimodal rail project, as well as assist in applying for infrastructure grants through the EDA to expand the EDC’s property for industrial purposes. 
“It would also help to expand our marketing efforts that can be used by several agencies, whether it be the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation or the city. Regardless of where inquiries may come in, we will have a package together that would talk about commercial retail development and the opportunities. This would also allow us to have a cleaner presentation to whether it be developers or major retailers and at retail events, mostly with International Council of shopping centers or other organizations where we can be represented.”
This particular company is one that Welch visited with at the ICSC conference in Dallas in January. The contract is for 12 months and costs approximately $45,000. The firm will visit the city and talk with stakeholders and do “behind the scenes analysis on what leakages there are in terms of retail, what’s going to other communities and so forth and based our population and our demographics.”

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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