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Presidio pursues first city plan in 30 years

March 9th, 2017 under Top Stories

By CAMERON DODD

cameron@bigbendnow.com

PRESIDIO — The Presidio City Council contracted a planning consultant and moved forward in pursuit of grant funding for the city’s first comprehensive plan in almost 30 years.

During a special meeting Monday evening, the city council approved a contract bid from Andrews-based firm Kleinman Consultants for planning services. Kleinman will be the city’s consultants on an application for grant money from the Texas Department of Agriculture to fund a comprehensive plan.

Presidio has not applied for funds to finance a comprehensive plan since 1988, according to Vicky Carrasco, associate vice-president of Kleinman Consultants. Carrasco lit a fire under the city council to move quickly in pursuit of comprehensive planning grant during the council’s February 9 meeting. A Presidio High School Graduate with a master’s degree in urban planning who recently relocated back to Presidio, Carrasco briefed the city council on a funding opportunity through a specific program within the Texas Department of Agriculture’s community development block grants.

“After doing some research into urban planning in Presidio, I realized the city… the last time the city had a comprehensive plan developed was in 1988,” Carrasco told the council in February. “That’s the last time the city applied for funds form the state agency.”

Thanks in part to Carrasco’s presentation, the city council will pursue a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture specifically for “Planning and Capacity Building.” The council will consider approving the application at its regular meeting on Thursday, March 9. The deadline to apply for this year’s grant is March 24.

The maximum amount of money the council can apply for is $55,000 with a 20 percent funding match from the city. The match would total about $11,000 and could be paid over two years. Paying in partnership with other entities, such as the Presidio Independent School District or the Presidio Municipal Development District would also be an option.

“We can come up with [the money],” Portillo said. “$11,000 is nothing. We need to jump on this.”

The grants funds would be specifically for creating a comprehensive plan that could include provisions on land use, transportation and public facilities and could be used to guide future development. Many states require municipalities to have and periodically update comprehensive plans. Texas does not require the plans but the state’s local government code does grant cities the authority to adopt them. Cities can use their plans when applying for grant project or when courting investors and developers. “We’ve actually run into that where even some grants that would be available for us, they ask obviously, for audits but some of the other things they say is ‘We’d like a copy of your comprehensive plan, Where are you all going? Where are you driving to? Where are you staying?” City Administrator Joe Portillo told the city council during the February meeting. “So this covers all that.”

“When you have a comprehensive plan, when you do have a developer come into the town, when you have a business that you’re trying to attract, they’ll want to see where you want to expand and what areas you have that are available,” Carrasco added.

With the deadline to apply for a Planning and Capacity Building grant approaching in late March, the City Council needed little convincing to move on pursuing the grant.

“We need to start working now,” Council Member Antonio Manriquez said.

“I think this is one of the best possible things that can happen to us because we are in a growth mode right now,” City Council Member Isela Nuñez said. “We might not see it, but I know it’s coming. we don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive.”

The city council previously took action to pursue another type of plan for Presidio through grant funding. During the regular meeting in December, the council approved authorizing the city administrator to pursue a Historical Master Plan Grant from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). That grant would cover the costs of bringing researchers from UTSA’s South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center and schools of Architecture and Planning to Presidio to study and plan historical preservation and development. The comprehensive plan is similar but more in depth, according to Carrasco.

“When you do comprehensive planning, you do a big vision, but you also do specific chapters for certain things,” Carrasco said.

The city will consider and potentially approve the grant during its regular meeting this evening, Thursday, March 7. It is the only item of new business on the council’s agenda.

 

 

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