Because the intersection of Highway 59 and I-37 has a more definite future, and businesses are looking to build there, the city of George West is taking steps to annex the intersection and make it part of the city limits.
Before construction can begin, the city needs to provide water, sewer and gas utilities. But first, they need to make sure the project is beneficial to the city, so the George West city council approved a feasibility assessment on Sept. 16.
“I know a couple of businesses out there are very interested, and George West has its own gas supply, so it’s a plus for the city to provide for as many customers as we can,” George West City Manager Sandra Martinez said. “We haven’t said yes or no; we’re at the beginning stages of it.”
A common pipeline between George West and Three Rivers ties the two utilities together. Kinder Morgan and Energy Transfer both want to supply natural gas for future development. Both companies are already invested in the pipeline that’s used by both cities, and both could help fund pipeline construction.
The city council gave the green light to Simon Peña Jr., city gas utility consultant and project manager with Coler & Colantonio Inc., to find out which deal would benefit the city the most.
Peña said Kinder Morgan jointly owns the pipeline, and Energy Transfer provides the gas for George West.
Peña estimated the feasibility assessment would take about four to six weeks to complete. After that, the project would return to the council for a vote.
Martinez said the city is working with companies interested in the intersection to see if they qualify for a Texas Capital Fund grant. This type of grant can only be used for providing utilities to new businesses and the amount of money the state provides is determined by the number of jobs the project would create.
If the city and upcoming businesses play their cards right, they could construct water, sewer and natural gas lines to the intersection at no cost to the city yet still retain the economic benefits from it in future years.
A $400,000 TCF grant was used to build the Holiday Inn in George West, and the city didn’t have to contribute any funds.
“That’s why George West likes to utilize the Texas Capital Grant fund, because that money is used to assist in our utilities,” Martinez said.
The project’s potential benefits include the income from sales taxes, property taxes and more in addition to the income from providing the utilities to the new businesses. Martinez estimated that annexation and development of the intersection would increase the city’s sales tax revenue by 15-20 percent.
Martinez said they’ve heard restaurants, hotels and industrial parks express interest in developing at the intersection so far. She also said development will gain momentum once the Flying J Pilot gas station and water and sewer utility lines are complete. The Pilot grant would be about $184,000, according to Martinez.
Martinez said construction of the water and sewer lines will begin at the end of the month, and the anticipated completion date is January 2014.
“They need the gas for winter and need to get it going,” George West Mayor Sylvia Steele said.
In other George West news, the council:
• approved the final reading of the appropriation ordinance for fiscal year Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2014, in the amount of $4,037,247 with a balanced budget.
• approved to co-sponsor a musical jamboree in the Dobie West Theatre in February with the George West Chamber of Commerce for $750. The jamboree will feature old-time musicians similar to the ones currently held in Refugio and at the Live Oak County Fair Grounds and George West Independent School District cafeteria in the past.
Steele said the jamboree will be part of the city’s centennial celebration and free to the public.