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Talk is cheap. So why haven’t we had some?
by Jeff Latcham
Apr 19, 2013 | 1352 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Yes, we know it’s a recurring theme on these editorial pages, but political turf wars – particularly at the local level – are maddening.

It’s not like the City of Beeville and the Bee Development Authority are as chippy as North and South Korea. No one’s threatening to launch missiles – yet – but the lack of dialogue between the two entities is unfathomable.

Citizens who took in Tuesday’s public hearing on the city’s proposed $15 million water project learned that the plan now preferred would include two wells – one into the brackish Jasper Aquifer and one into the Evangeline Aquifer – to diversify the sources. This was something several citizens argued for at the first public hearing.

That’s promising. Someone was listening.

The ideal mix of water now pitched would be approximately 22 percent from the shallower and sweeter Evangeline, 44 percent from the deep and brackish Jasper, and 33 percent from the existing Nueces River source.

So the preferred city plan as of Tuesday night calls for drilling two wells on city property to accomplish that mix. The decision to drill a second well adds initial expenses, but spreads the risk and the water is “free” thereafter.

Here’s one of those places where citizens’ eyebrows should be arching if they’re paying attention. The plan calls for a little over a million gallons a day from an Evangeline well. The BDA has just such a well at Chase Field that is rated upwards of approximately 1.5 million gallons per day. And there’s already a pipeline running between Chase and the city.

There’s more to it than just hooking the two up, but the city’s planners have written off that option... without ever meeting with the BDA to explore what could be done, what deals could be struck. Repeated BDA requests for meetings have been canceled time and again.

So the citizens are asked to approve a $15 million bond project, and the city hasn’t even done its due diligence in exploring the options available at Chase?

Conversely, BDA has never been shy about asking the city for access to economic development tax monies for projects at Chase. Because the BDA has no taxing powers, income sources are limited to fund any job-creation projects at the old base.

Now BDA has the available assets that the city sorely needs, it should provide the water essentially at cost or never bother to ask for city tax dollars again. The city is not without leverage in negotiations.

While we’ve before made the argument that the city benefits from jobs created at Chase, we’d now suggest that BDA won’t have anything to market if the City of Beeville doesn’t have water.

What can it hurt to sit down and see if there can’t be a win-win solution here before the city writes off any Chase water options? Are we adults here?

Sure, it’s a strained analogy in time of drought and water shortages to say we’re all in the same boat. This is Beeville, with citizens on fixed incomes and limited resources, not River Oaks or Alamo Heights. Same boat? Geez, it’s more a dinghy.

Many citizens at these hearings have essentially asked if the city has explored all options before we are asked take on this massive debt. That’s not an unreasonable request.

There may be a part of the solution to be had at Chase, or not. We won’t know until the city and BDA meet and talk.

What does that cost besides a bit of ego?

– Jeff Latcham
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