Wichita Falls City Council January 21, 2020, recap

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A lot happened in Tuesday morning’s city council meeting.

Base Camp Lindsey was awarded the ability to purchase a city building for just $5000 to house homeless veterans.

According to the city, the building located at 1908 6th street appraised for $70,000 but was not being used and ultimately just costing the city more money to maintain.

The building, once renovated, will be able to house up to 25 veterans at a time.

Steve Hollaway, Board Chairman, Base Camp Lindsey, said this is just the first part of a 3 phase vision.

“We want to take it literally cradle to grave because once we transition out of the nursing home and into the tiny homes community we want that nursing facility or phase one to become phase three,” said Hollaway.

Hollaway said phase three will be an assisted care facility for the homeless vets who will never be able to work again for whatever reason.

Hollaway said his hope is open the building before it gets cold again this fall so that no more veterans have to sleep out in the cold.

And if you were wondering, they aren’t giving up on the original tiny homes village, but officials say they are focusing on this building first.

City councilors approved up to nearly 3 million dollars in funds to construct a new public transportation center.

This is the largest public transportation project that has ever occurred in the city’s history, according to Transportation Director John Burrus.

Burrus said their current center is outdated and that the new project will take about 16 months to complete.

The total cost of the new center will be about $10.5 million dollars.

Most of the money being used to build the center is coming from a nearly $10 million dollar grant from the federal transit administration.

“The heart and soul of the complex will be a seven-bay repair facility where we can bring our buses in,” said Burrus. “Get them repaired, get them maintained. Get them back in service. There will also be parking there for the buses.”

Burrus said all of the money being used to build the facility comes from federal tax dollars and that they will be able to bring some of that money back to Wichita Falls by hiring local contractors.

State grant funds for the Lake Wichita boat ramp project were terminated this morning in city council as the committee moves in a different direction.

About six years ago, the Texas Parks and Wildlife aware the city a $500 thousand dollar grant for the boat ramp phase.

That project included creating a four-lane boat ramp, boat dock, sea walls, sidewalks and restrooms.

However, the committee is holding off on that project for now, instead of moving on with creating a veteran’s plaza.

Assistant City Manager, Blake Jurecek said parts of the sea well, a boat dock and restrooms will be rolled into the veterans’ plaza project.

Lake Wichita officials say the state has assured them that terminating this grant won’t have any negative impacts on the city applying for funds in the future.

The Wichita Falls city council passed a resolution to continue providing municipal services to tenants living inside Sheppard’s off base affiliated housing, despite the allegations of unsanitary conditions being present.

Because those tenants live on federal property, their taxes are not paying for local services like police, fire, water and trash collection.

The burden then falls on the city to sign a contract with Balfour Beatty, the military’s housing contractor, to provide those services.

Recently, Balfour Beatty has gone under fire, both nationally and here locally at Sheppard, for what many military families are calling negligence saying their health could be at risk due to mold growing in their H-VAC units.

City officials said any concerns with living conditions inside military-affiliated housing, need to be taken up with the department of defense and that their contract with Balfour Beatty only deals with providing city services to those properties.

Wichita Falls resident, T.P. Hillman spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. He said the city needs to put Balfour Beatty on probation.

“But the questions must be asked. Do we want to be associated with a company like Balfour Beatty,” said Hillman. “If you believe it is necessary to approve this contract, I would suggest amending it from a five year to a one year provisional with our language concerning Balfour Beatty and a review after one year to determine our future relationship.

According to Wichita Falls City Attorney, Kinley Hegglund, should the military ever terminate its contract with Balfour Beatty due to bad living conditions, the city’s contract with Balfour Beatty to provide municipal services to those communities would also be terminated.

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