City council hears again from residents on Business 190 project
By LYNETTE SOWELL
As a follow up to Monday’s city council retreat which had a presentation and discussion on the Business 190 median project, a lineup of residents and local business owners spoke out in citizens forum at Tuesday night’s regular Copperas Cove city council meeting.
Their consensus was that the Business 190 median project, tentatively on track to begin in late 2019, was a bad idea for Copperas Cove and its businesses. Residents spoke out against the trees and other landscaping, both where their maintenance was concerned and the safety factor, for example, if a tree branch were to fall in the road. They also spoke of traffic flow concerns by decreasing the segment of Business 190 to two lanes all the way to the Avenue D intersection.
W.B. Maples, who owns Cove Plumbing, spoke out on those and other issues he sees.
“I own a business on Highway 190 and I’ve been in business for 35 years. We have big trucks that deliver material to us, in and out, and the plans that I have looked at and seen with the median in there and the doing away with two of the existing lanes will hamper me being able to get material into my business,” Maples told the council. “I also feel like in the 35 years that I’ve been there, I know that when business 190 was two lanes on one said no turn lane, what a traffic problem it was. Our foot traffic and walking traffic are up considerable since the bypasses are in, and people can get up and down highway 190, and anything that would do away with three lanes of traffic east and west would not be good for the city or the simple fact it would bottleneck traffic.
“If this project goes forward, that I would be in a position that I would have to move for the simple fact that I couldn’t get materials into my business, because I can’t get trucks in there.”
He said that he has heard that city staff say that Business 190 is no longer a thoroughfare.
“You need to be there 7:30, 8:00 any morning, or 4:30 to 6:00 in the afternoon. I think it would change your mind. Business 190 is a thoroughfare for people in and out of this community.”
One group, Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, gathered to share a letter of support for the median project, with the letter being read by KCCB executive director Silvia Rhoads. The letter reminded the council of the two grants KCCB received for the city, totaling $420,000, which will be spent on TxDOT roadway beautification in Copperas Cove. Then, last year the city was awarded $10,000,000 in funding for the median project.
“TxDOT and KCCB viewed the award as a win-win-win for all involved entities, but especially for the citizens of Copperas Cove,” Rhoads said. “What better way to welcome potential residents and potential businesses, or to welcome residents home, than with a beautiful roadway that invites pedestrian, bicycles and vehicles to safely navigate through our city?”
Later during the meeting, there was more discussion about the median, particularly where it concerned the agenda item that would authorize the interim city manager to execute all documents related to the Business 190 improvements that are included in the 2040 Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Master Plan.
The council voted 4-3 to approve that resolution, but councilmen Jay Manning, Marc Payne, and Charlie Youngs voted against that measure.
Youngs elaborated more on Wednesday for the reasoning behind his vote against it. One part of the resolution states that “the City of Copperas Cove commits the required local share and 100 percent of all nonfederally fundable items and overruns exceeding the federal allocation.”
Youngs, as well as other councilmen, took issue with that section of the resolution.
“Manning brought it out. In the resolution, it is how Section 2 is worded,” Youngs said. “The reason I feel uncomfortable is if (the resolution) said, a million dollars, then at least I have an idea of what we’re talking about, or $500,000. The way it is worded - 100 percent of all overruns exceeding the allocation – on the Business 190 project, it could be a lot more…On the other side, the lawyer and interim city manager brought up that there are figures brought up in the advance funding agreement. According to what they said, at that point in time, there is a figure that is identified. Whatever the figure is, you’ve committed to it. That becomes the dilemma, and a number of us were concerned with the way that wording is.”
The council did approve two other similar resolutions related to upcoming KTMPO-connected projects for the city, that of authorizing the Interim City Manager to execute all documents related to The Narrows Sidewalk projects, as well as the F.M. 116 South and F.M. 3046 sidewalk project.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council appointed Jimmy Clark to serve on the Subdivision Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) but voted 3-4 against appointing Marcella Lowery to that group.
Councilman James Pierce Jr. was approved as a liaison to the Economic Development Corporation. During the discussion related to that agenda item, councilman Charlie Youngs pointed out that in the past, at least one member of the council was also a member of the EDC’s board.
Councilman Dan Yancey asked to postpone the agenda item related to funding the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.
Three staffing positions, one for the city utilities department, and two new positions for the Economic Development Corporation were approved by the council, after some discussion, particularly where the staff member for the utilities department was concerned.
The council heard from Linda Lapierre with the Five Hills Art Guild and approved an interim payment to the guild for upfront costs of entertainment and security for the March 16-17 event, to be held in City Park.
They also heard reports for the 2017 C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl, to include activities and expenses, as well as a report from the Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove for activities and expenses associated with the Feast of Sharing in November 2017. The council will take a vote on the release of funds for those events at a future council meeting.