The city is ready to start construction on “the park.”
Yes, that park, or Salt Creek Park, as it will be called pending the likely approval of the name by the Graham City Council.
The city could take bids on construction as soon as three weeks from now if the project was not stuck in bureaucratic limbo, said city manager David Casteel.
“I’ve got the plans complete,” said Casteel, seated behind his desk at city hall where a red decorative plaque at the front reads “it CAN be done.”
Casteel hopes to get the project out of limbo on June 16, when the three agencies involved in the project, the Brazos River Authority, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Graham, plan to meet in Dallas.
All three agencies agree that the project is a great idea, but the bureaucratic processes for the USACE are getting in the way.
“Us and the city have been very much on the same page as far as wanting to close the project out. Getting the city to where they can do the park is something we are both supportive of,” said Matt Phillips, government and customer relations manager with the BRA. “The issue that we’ve had is every time we think we have a path forward with the Corps, we move down that path and the Corps changes its mind and says, ‘oh, that won’t work.’ That’s happened two or three times now. That happened most recently about a month ago.”
The park is planned along the east side of Salt Creek in an area that the USACE deemed a floodplain in its own studies dating back to 1954, according to a draft environmental assessment put together by the city in October of 2013 outlining the history and status of the Salt Creek Park project.
The USACE began purchasing the land from owners and deeding the property to the BRA, said the report. That process is still underway, and 10 Parcels of land on the floodplain have yet to be turned over.
The BRA agreed to turnover $1.3 million to the City of Graham in a recent agreement between the two entities, but there is one snag: The land can’t be turned over to the city for construction until every parcel of land is purchased by the USACE.
In February, 2013, the city council approved construction to begin, as none of the outstanding land parcels interfered with the planned park, said Casteel. They just needed a partial release from the USACE, which initially appeared likely.
“The Corp person then, who is now retired, indicated that it would be about 12 months from that point. So, we said 18 months,” Casteel said.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.