City manager holds Business 190 master plan meeting
Fri, 2015-07-24 05:00 News Staff
By LYNETTE SOWELL
In what she called the largest meeting for the Business 190 master plan so far, City Manager Andrea Gardner held a public meeting of the Business Highway 190 master plan workgroup on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was called “Make Your Opinion Count”, and in addition to sharing the draft of the Business 190 master plan, Gardner also solicited comments from those present. This meeting came on the heels of two previous public meetings which were related to the discussion of how the city will spend its $210,000 Governor’s Community Achievement Award, which will begin the first phase of constructing a median on Business 190. Tuesday’s meeting concerned the project as a whole, which will run from Robert Griffin III Boulevard all the way to the intersection of Business 190 and Georgetown Road. This time, Gardner had also invited two engineering firms, BSP out of Temple, and LAN Engineering, to sit in and take notes on what community members had to say. The meeting was also attended by the master plan workgroup members, which included city council and staff, along with representatives from local businesses on 190, the HOP, as well as Central Texas College. Gardner showed numerous photos of the medians in Tyler, Texas as an example of something that could be constructed in Copperas Cove, but she did stress Copperas Cove’s current plan is a draft. She also talked about the reaction of the Tyler community to the median. “When (the medians) first went in, they did not like them and they did not want them. And now, what I’m hearing is they love them and appreciate them,” Gardner said. “I invited engineering firms to be here. We have representatives from BSP and LAN engineering. They are taking notes, and I can assure you this is not the first time they have heard these comments. These are thriving cities. It works, or they wouldn’t still have them.” The proposed median in Copperas Cove will have a public transportation component built into it as well, in which buses will pull to the median for riders to board and disembark. Robert Ator, director of urban operations for the HOP, explained how the center median will work for riders, giving them only one section of the road to cross when either boarding or getting off the bus. Gardner said having the bus stops, along with the 5-foot dedicated bicycle lane and 5- to 6-foot sidewalks along both sides of the roadway, will provide increased means of safe transportation. More people are walking, bicycling, or riding motorized devices besides vehicles in Copperas Cove now, she added. A public safety concern was expressed by one resident, if the city’s ladder truck will be able to make turns while trying to get to an emergency, after the median is in place. “If they can make the turn now, they will be able to do it then,” responded Lt. Jeffery Stoddard, who served as the head of the Business 190 Master Plan workgroup. Aesthetics and safety, and their relationship with economic development also came up as a reason for the median. “This is an opportunity to attract new business,” Gardner said. “I hear a lot, and have heard a lot, ‘We would like to be in Copperas Cove but we don’t want to be on 190.’” Reasons given for that decision by numerous businesses are the appearance of Business 190 and its safety, especially before the south bypass opened. Polo Enriquez, executive director of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, echoed Gardner’s statement. “Aesthetics are important to investors. They’re concerned about the quality of life. We have to concern ourselves with the harshness –forgive the word—that business 190 exhibits now.” He later added that he has walked much of that Business 190 corridor himself, when showing business owners sites within the city that might work for their business location. Rodney Nauert, a business owner on 190, also attended, He expressed concerns again about the effect a median would have on existing businesses especially where deliveries by large trucks were concerned. He also expressed concerns that the city will have a harder time bringing new business in, along with his own concerns about putting money into one of his projects here in the community, as are other business owners. “I’m nervous about spending the money to put into that project in Copperas Cove. They’re not wiling to put the funds into these proprieties because they might not be able to recoup their investments,” Nauert said. He also lamented the fact that some businesses have moved to the east of town. Gardner countered that there are quite a few businesses that don’t want to be on the east end at the Shops, but there’s nowhere on Business 190 they want to be because of how it looks, and drainage issues. Enriquez said, “If we’re going to be skittish about not investing in our community, then other investors are going to feel the same way.” Business owner Robert Weidinger II said he meets with the Fort Hood Officers Wives Club regularly, and a number of them will not come to Copperas Cove because they don’t feel it’s “safe.” When he asked them what they meant by that, he said they told him they didn’t feel it was safe to drive in. “They were afraid to come. They said, ‘I don’t want to drive in Copperas Cove,’” he said. “Nobody wants to live in a town that’s dried up and stale. You have to make it quaint before people will come. They will come and spend money. As long as my town looks good, my business will look good. My biggest problem is people don’t want to come.” Weidinger also spoke to the recent efforts of the Five Hills Art Guild painting a mural downtown as just one of the ways community members are stepping up to help make the city aesthetically more appealing. “It’s trying to make it more quaint.” He is in favor of the median because it will do the same thing to improve the community’s appearance.