Beaumont council seeks to borrow millions for street and drainage repairs

The city of Beaumont could soon devote an additional $ 33 million to improving municipal drainage ditches, its storm water system and various streets, among other projects.

The money would come from debt issued in the form of “bond certificates” that would be repaid $ 2.1 million per year over 20 years, CFO Todd Simoneaux told Beaumont city council at a meeting earlier this week.

The city currently pays $ 2.2 million a year in debt service, but adding the additional $ 33 million would not require any increase in the property tax rate, now at 71 cents per $ 100 of value. .


A project on Fourth Street would require $ 7 million in funds to apply new asphalt coating from Ashley Street to Cardinal Drive.

The city would also allocate an additional $ 16 million for other street repairs and $ 4 million to improve, reshape and deepen the city’s earth ditches. This program would follow improvements to the concrete ditches in Drainage District 6, said Bart Bartkowiak, director of public works.


The goal is to improve 20% of the city’s 316 miles of dirt ditches per year, he said.

Also included are repairs to parts of the city’s overall drainage system that would help move runoff to the Neches River or into the Hillebrandt Bayou system in Drainage District 6. The city has 421 miles of pipelines. storm water that helps displace runoff.

Another $ 4 million would help improve the Threadneedle Street stormwater line, which would cross the Exxon Mobil refinery property to the River Neches.

These projects are separate from the $ 13.3 million previously approved by council for sewer upgrades.

Bartkowiak said a list of streets for the next phase of rehabilitation using the debt to be issued will be posted on the city’s website when the $ 33 million is available. It may take up to two months. Bartkowiak said it would take another month to put the projects together and announce the offers, which could be available by October.

The city will stick to its criteria for selecting streets based on their condition, volume of traffic and houses and businesses served.

The eventual distribution of streets would be distributed as evenly as possible across the four neighborhoods, he said.

In another council conversation, Ward II Councilor Mike Getz said he still opposes the acquisition of the old AT&T building at 555 Main Street for recreational development, but offered a subject for a future work session – potentially taking Battleship Texas to a new Neches River berth just upstream from Riverfront Park.

Getz said the Battleship Texas Commission had to move the ship because the Texas Historical Commission wanted to restore the San Jacinto Battlefield to its 1836 appearance, which did not include a modern battleship.

He said other towns from Corpus Christi to Baytown are interested. He said the ship could pass under the Riverfront rail bridge and be visible from Interstate 10 to attract visitors.

The ship is 556 feet long and 92 feet wide. It would occupy a territory belonging to the Port of Beaumont along the Neches.

“There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of questions,” Getz said. “Regardless of whether AT&T is going away, we could consider that. “

Gets showed the council an aerial photo with an overlaid image of the ship that served in both world wars.

It was not known if the council would consider a working session, but Getz said the visual aid was similar to plans for a Tevis landing zone that would stem from what is now the AT&T building.

Bruce Bramlett, chief operating officer of the Battleship Texas Foundation, said the state owned the ship and wanted it to leave San Jacinto. A new location belongs to the foundation’s board of directors.

Bramlett said the ship only attracts 80,000 visitors a year and needs 250,000 visitors to purchase tickets. He said he had no information from Beaumont as to whether there was any interest. He said the battleship Alabama, visible from Interstate 10, attracts 400,000 visitors a year.

“The economic impact could be $ 10 million in the first year,” Bramlett said. “We would need a presentation in 60 to 90 days. We would need a compelling case from Beaumont. We have no information.

Bramlett would not say what other cities are interested or have submitted projects.

“The state owns it. The state wants him out of (San Jacinto). It hasn’t worked there for years. But it’s not every day that a state monument is moved. It is the official vessel of the State of Texas, ”he said.

Dan Wallach is a freelance writer.

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