Once again I see that Ms. Slawson is using her community column to make comments about Tarleton State University. On this occasion she inserts her comments and opinions in regard to the proposed annexation of Tarleton property into the city limits. I also note that she was the only person to present testimony in opposition to the annexation at the last Stephenville City Council meeting. She recommended the City Council table the annexation Tarleton requested.
I am absolutely amazed at Ms. Slawson’s continued critical rhetoric against Tarleton, albeit its employees serving on the city council and now its request for the city to annex property adjoining the Tarleton College Farm. And now I am shocked to see Ms. Pickens complaining about the city’s sale of a portion of an unused street to Tarleton. Ms. Pickens has asserted that the city lost $18,000 in the sale of McKewn Street to Tarleton.
The proposed annexation of Tarleton’s property adjoining FM 8 between College Farm Road and US 281 is within Tarleton’s Long Range Development Plan, it is within the City’s 20-30 Comprehensive Plan, and the property is within the City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The welfare of Tarleton is absolutely critical to the economic climate of Stephenville. Tarleton employees 1,200 people, it creates over $200 million in outside income coming into our community, and its economic impact for Stephenville is projected to be $1.6 billion per year. The major issue in the last city council elections appears to have been economic development. Economic development does not simply mean attracting new business and industries, but it also means encouraging expansion of existing businesses and industries. The annexation of the property requested by Tarleton is vital to its future growth and turning Tarleton into a major university complex.
If the annexation is approved, Tarleton is responsible for providing all of the infrastructure to the property, to include: streets, curbs, gutter, sewer, and water lines. Ms. Slawson and others have opposed this annexation because of the costs to the City of Stephenville for water, police and fire protection. The last time I looked, Tarleton had its own police department. When did the last fire occur on the Tarleton campus? The city staff says that providing water to the property is not a problem and Tarleton pays the city for all of the water it uses like any other commercial business.
I hope that Ms. Pickens looked at the street involved in this sale before she wrote her opinion column in the paper. Whoever placed the value of $18,000 on this portion of a street is ill-informed. The Erath County Central Appraisal District does not appraise city streets, so who placed the $18,000 value on the partially unused street? Whoever used this valuation system did not consider that Tarleton owns the property on both sides of the street, and the street is now in the middle of Tarleton’s campus. Ms. Pickens should be required to explain where she got the $18,000 value for this street before she asserts “the city lost $18,000 on this deal simply because no one was willing to stand up to TSU.” I do not believe the city was receiving any income on this portion of an unused street. I would encourage anyone that is interested in this issue to go look at the street involved. McKewn street is immediately south of the College Point II Apartments on Lillian street. It does not have a street sign and watch out for the “pot holes.”
The continued public criticism of Tarleton State University in this community is detrimental to the University and is extremely detrimental to the University’s future funding from the Texas Legislature, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas A&M University System, and federal, state, and private grant programs. If there are problems between any of the governmental bodies in this community, it should be the responsibility of the elected officials to work out the problems in a reasonable and rational manner without someone running to the newspaper to express continued complaints whenever TSU needs some action by local governments to continue to grow, prosper, and extend its economic impact to this community.
Those in the business community that realize the importance of Tarleton State University to this community should be supporting TSU by speaking with City Council members in person or by letter or email about the importance of the annexation to the future growth of Tarleton and its resulting economic impact to our community. The annexation requested by Tarleton and the sale of Mc Kewn street to Tarleton is simply a “no brainer.”
Bob Glasgow is a former state senator and local attorney.