EDC gives direction on The Narrows sidewalk design

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press

The EDC board got its first look at the future sidewalks project for The Narrows Business & Technology Park, which is included in a project that will also install more sidewalks along Constitution Avenue, extending from the movie theater to the intersection of Constitution and Mueller. 
Jerry Landes from BSP Engineers explained several options to tackle an issue the firm found with the proposed 10-foot sidewalk and bicycle paths through the park where it concerns the right of way. 
“When you take the 70-foot right of way and take out 44-foot street, you’re not left with much room for that right of way. As we started to see, there were a lot of utilities already taking up some of that space that was remaining,” Landes said. 
Using the typical method, there would be a two-foot narrow strip of ground right of way which would need to be maintained by the city’s Parks Department. Also, there must be a four-foot wide stretch of sidewalk to remain ADA compliant, should any of the sidewalk encounter utility poles. Also, going through any future driveways, there would be a steeper, short, choppy drive approach, that Landes said is not well suited for commercial or industrial environment in the park. 
Landes also said building the sidewalk straight through not knowing where driveways go, any company coming in would have to tear out a section of new sidewalk for driveway to enter the tract. 
The second option, which he called “more desirable,” would be to put the sidewalk behind the right of way on the property which would be less costly and provide more conducive radii to approaches for traffic turning in. more like a residential style radius. 
“Our goal is to try to save cost wherever we can,” he said. In this second option, driveways would be constructed from the street without any tearing up of the new sidewalk. 
He said the 10-foot easement already included in the plat is an undesignated easement, but the EDC board could replat that specifically as a sidewalk easement that falls into the preexisting 25-foot setback that is already in place in line with city code. 
EDC board chair Adam Martin said he was for the option of designating the 10-foot easement within the 25-foot setback as a sidewalk/pedestrian easement, also a public safety consideration. 
Landes said during his presentation that the Texas Department of Transportation reviews and approves projects, and that the timeline to get this done wasn’t an urgent one, as TxDOT did not plan to let the project for bid until at least December 2019. At this point, Landes said BSP was reaching the 30 percent review point and had been discussing the sidewalk placement issue with interim city manager Ryan Haverlah and the city’s chief building official, Mike Morton. 
The board rejected all bids received for the clearing and grubbing of The Narrows, and EDD interim executive director Diane Drussell asked to rebid the project with a more detailed scope of work. The EDC will reissue a revised RFP to receive more bids according to the new project specifications. 
Board chair Adam Martin brought up an environmental concern, that of soil erosion and runoff onto the streets, as the reasoning for rejecting the bids. 
“The way this RFP is written, it is that all organic material be removed, down to the dirt,” Martin said, calling that potential significant. “Did we really just want to clear it out, keep some of the nicer trees, not take it down to the dirt?” 
He also mentioned using a hydroax, which mulches all material that is not trees back into the ground. 
At the request of EDC board member Joey Acfalle, the board briefly discussed the possibility of using the building it acquired during a property swap with Coryell County, the former annex located at 201 S. 2nd St. Acfalle said he brought up the idea because of the fact that the EDD will be adding some employees. However, due to the current discussions with the city council regarding the possibility of moving the department’s employees from under the supervision of the city manager, any further discussion on using the building would best be put on hold, said board chair Adam Martin. 
Coryell County Judge John Firth briefed the board on the multi-modal rail use feasibility study, to look into the construction of a facility on Fort Hood in Coryell County that both the Army and civilian endeavors could use. 
Both the Coryell County Economic Development board and the EDC board have both approved $15,000 to fund the local share of the study, which totals a 10 percent match of an estimated $300,000 study. 
Firth said the Department of Defense has been waiting to go forward until after the omnibus bill was passed by congress last Thursday and signed by the President, which included a substantial increase in Department of Defense, he added.
He said a number of bids are expected to come in on the study by April 4, to be reviewed by the technical committee. He called the future railhead an incredible opportunity, with the county in the “sweet spot” of having Interstate 14 nearby. He also said the Department of Defense is committed to building a new railhead, around the area of State Highway 9. 
The board approved both the release of funds to the City of Copperas Cove for EDD employee payroll for the month of February, as well as billable hours for services performed for the EDC by other city employees. It additionally approved the monthly financial report for the month of February. 
The EDC board also held an executive session on Wednesday to consult with the attorney about the EDC’s digital sign, as well as two performance agreements with businesses looking to expand in Copperas Cove. They emerged from that session to take no action. 

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