Streets, parks, & economic development figure big in Copperas Cove citizen survey
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove City Council held a discussion on the results from the Citizens Survey and which sections to focus on for strategic planning during their Tuesday workshop meeting.
The council was asked to identify three areas to focus, for the top three topics that citizens identified in the recent survey as most important, to include streets, parks and recreation, and economic development.
With the recent hiring of Fred Welch as the executive director for the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, the council focused on economic development first.
The first for Economic Development is to continue the Copperas Cove Economic and Business Forum, which has been held between the council and the EDC for about the past year.
Haverlah said the forums began as just the two entities, followed by the Chamber of Commerce, then CCISD, Coryell County, and the Copperas Cove Industrial Foundation, and that it was “really to begin building that coalition, which is one of those items there towards the bottom which is to cultivate with Fort Hood, CTC, Texas A&M University-Central Texas and other regional partners to cultivate partnering industries, and so it’s kind of that building process with the forum that we have.”
The other items on the list include:
2. Identify economic development goals, including industries and collaborations with local partners.
3. Identify and execute strategies for retail business growth.
4. Delineate specific economic development responsibilities from local partners.
5. Streamline regulations while ensuring responsible growth regulations.
6. Execute a downtown transportation and pedestrian improvement study and seek grant funding.
“We previously have begun changing a lot of our regulations as a city, and we began that with our subdivision ordinance, our sign ordinance,” Haverlah said regarding number 5. “We’re now into our Zoning code. One of the items that is on your regular agenda tonight specifically is the building codes or construction codes that will establish a committee to begin reviewing those to help maybe streamline some of those, allow certain uses of construction methods.”
Another item was “Develop existing business facility improvement programs.”
“The facility improvement programs being trying to encourage businesses to update their buildings,” Haverlah said. “One of those is to address the regulations surrounding those types of improvements. The other area is something that could be considered such as a facade improvement type program or incentive type efforts, and it could even be combined or coupled with infrastructure improvements that may front that business, and so there’s a lot of opportunities there.”
The next item was “Update and over market Copperas Cove for business considerations.”
“That goes back to some of the comments about that I have received and that is, ‘What are we doing to market Copperas Cove? Who are we marketing to? What are those marketing mediums beyond Copperas Cove to other industries, to other communities?’” Haverlah said.
Jay Manning said that he did not have a specific comment, “other than to try to cheerlead for the streets and Parks and Recreation.”
“I’m a little disturbed that we’ve come so long and still don’t have the bathrooms, so it’s just one of those things that when this comes to mind that I almost have to say it because…it started way long ago, 30 years ago,” Manning said.
On this item, Haverlah said that permits have been issued, so work should begin soon on the restrooms at City Park.
Councilmember Dianne Campbell said she felt strongly that the city should be collaborating with A&M-Central Texas, CTC and even reaching out to marketing students for help with a marketing plan. She said the city needs to come up with a vision, firstly.
“I think all of that is important, but we need to have a vision, and then we need to take steps to support the vision, and the goal I think of everybody is to attract and retain business in Copperas Cove,” Campbell said.
Manning said that he felt the city’s efforts on retail business would be wasted because “they’re a market consideration.”
“The focus that we ought to take is remove barriers for businesses who have wanted to come, and I think we’ve worked on it some,” Manning said. “The multiplier factor for those retail businesses are not extremely high either, so the first item seems to me like ought to be in really bold letters. It seems like it’s so easy for us to focus on the retail, so just throwing a little weight on the other side.”
To this, Campbell pointed out that the responses to the citizen surveys have shown that residents want more restaurants and grocery stores and retail options.
In the end, the council advised Haverlah to combine the items into three or four strategies for a strategic plan, to also include collaborating with other entities and addressing downtown traffic and pedestrian flow.
Regarding streets, Haverlah shared that a lot of the comments received during the Citizens Survey were focused on the condition of the streets and the damage that occurred from Winter Storm Uri last February.
“A lot of those streets have been worked on and repaired, particularly the major ones where there was significant damage and potholes and cracking have been repaired or the surface removed and then replaced with a mill and overlay,” Haverlah said.
He said that the city could publish the list of streets currently under contract for repairs or planned for repairs in house as well as the list of the streets that have already had work done.
Regarding a street maintenance fee, Haverlah said this is an item that council has discussed since 2012-2013.
Councilman Manning gave his input on the street priorities.
“We’ve been talking about the pavements for maybe almost two years and when we discussed the transportation fee before, I made the comment that I want to see that we can do repairs correctly, and I’m still seeing repairs that look more like speed bumps,” Manning said. “Those things I think impact people more. If it’s a patch, it may be a different color- that’s just part of the game, but if it’s smooth and the pavement is easy to transverse, I think we tend to overlook imperfections.”
For Parks and Recreation, the items on the list of possible focus areas included:
Specify and publish capital projects.
Focus on preventative maintenance.
Improve preventative and daily maintenance with increased personnel.
Collaborate with industry advocates and foundations for capital project funding.
Seek grants for capital project funding.
Improve volunteer recruitment for youth sports.
“It all kind of goes together,” said Mayor Dan Yancey. “You have better facilities, it’s easier to get volunteers. It’s easier to get kids and adults who want to participate, so I think all of just kin8d of goes together. One begets the other.”
Courtland said it looks like three bins already, from preventative maintenance and daily maintenance, to project funding (outside and grant funding or industry advocates) along with volunteer recruitment.
“Those would be the three bins that I would bin this out in,” she added.