DRIPPING SPRINGS – At its April 28 special meeting, the Dripping Springs City Council voted to decline the latest agreement offered by the Dripping Springs ISD (DSISD) Board of Trustees to sell property for the Town Center Project.
The DSISD Board of Trustees had approved the agreement for sale of the property at its regular meeting on April 26. The Town Center project is planned to include new local government offices with possible elements of a new Community Library, new City Hall, Hays County offices, greenspace for use as a public park, necessary infrastructure improvements, and possible private development.
Despite years of study, planning and negotiation, the City and District did not find agreement on how the specific use of the property would be contractually addressed. DSISD sought assurances that the use of the property would serve its community and greater community by requiring the construction of a governmental office and greenspace for a public park. While the City agreed with the assurance that a Town Center would be built on the property, City Council decided that given unforeseen potential circumstances in the future, the City needed maximum flexibility to use the property free of specific property use conditions required by DSISD.
Mayor Pro Tem Taline Manassian said the City must have flexibility as to what is placed on the land.
“We cannot support a real estate agreement that restricts the City’s ability to develop the property as it deems appropriate. The City needs the flexibility to adapt as things change, should the economy change, or should some other urgent need arise that requires us to spend money somewhere else. We have a duty to make the best decisions we can for the City, for our taxpayers, and for the community today and in the future,” says Manassian. “I appreciate the time and effort the District put into these negotiations. I also recognize they have priorities and concerns just as we do. But giving up our authority to exercise our judgment on how best to develop a Town Center on property we purchase is not something I can agree to.”
DSISD Board President Barbara Stroud said, “As noted by our continued partnership efforts with the City, despite the termination of the interlocal agreement on the Town Center Project, trustees enthusiastically supported the sale of property for the development of the Town Center Project,” said Ms. Stroud. “This innovative program envisioned first by the City had and continues to have the potential to serve our community in a significant and positive way. Guided by this vision and as evidenced by multiple offers of sale approved by the Board, the Board was willing to sell the property to the City for the purpose of a centralized hub of governmental offices and facilities, green space and infrastructure. Otherwise, DSISD was not planning to sell the property at this time. While the City’s decision is disappointing, our door remains open for any further discussion, even as DSISD begins its discussion with the Dripping Springs Community Library about making land available for the construction of a new library on the Administration building site. We are thankful for the City’s vision, partnership and efforts to continue to bring developments to our community that serve our City well.”
The Town Center project is funded using one of the City’s most important economic development tools, a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ). A TIRZ is often used by rapidly growing cities to provide critical public improvements, civic infrastructure, and redevelopment incentives, which improve local economies and quality of life without increasing taxes.
The City of Dripping Springs, Drippings Springs ISD, Hays County, and the Dripping Springs Community Library have worked together with the TIRZ board for several years to envision an exciting and vibrant Town Center. Through TIRZ board meetings, public meetings, and a mediation, the vision for the project, as well as a preliminary project plan and financing plan have been thoroughly vetted. The TIRZ partners have worked hard through the years to create a robust Town Center that would promote economic development and bring new opportunities and benefits to the entire community through improved public spaces. The decisions by both the City and DSISD were made after thorough and exhaustive consideration.
The next steps in the Town Center planning process will be discussed at the next TIRZ board meeting. The TIRZ board meets monthly with their next meeting on May 10.
For any questions, please call the City of Dripping Springs at 512-858-4725 or DSISD at 512-858-3082.