City of Dripping Springs denies downtown purchase contract after school district approval
The Dripping Spring town center project would create a new town hall as well as a town library, parking lot and town square. (Concept plan courtesy City of Dripping Springs)
In a joint statement issued by the City of Dripping Springs and Dripping Springs ISD, the two entities said the decisions to terminate the latest agreement to sell the downtown project were made “after careful and comprehensive consideration.”
In the statement, DSISD board chairwoman Barbara Stroud said the district still supports the downtown project.
“As indicated by our continued partnership efforts with the city, despite the termination of the interlocal agreement on the downtown project, the administrators have enthusiastically supported the sale of the property for the development of the downtown project” , Stroud said. “This innovative program first envisioned by the city had and continues to have the potential to serve our community in a meaningful and positive way.”
According to the city, the next steps in the planning of the downtown project will be discussed on May 10 at the next tax meeting.
Council of the Incremental Reinvestment Zone.
Original publication: April 28, 9:32 p.m.
The City of Dripping Springs has turned down Dripping Springs ISD’s most recent sales contract to purchase the Mercer Street District Administrative Property for the future downtown project.
The city council voted unanimously against the proposal at a special meeting on April 28, saying the deal too strictly limited future development plans for the property.
As per preliminary planning, as part of the downtown project, the town would construct a new town hall, as well as a Dripping Springs Community Library building and a small town plaza or park on land owned currently at DSISD. The proposal would also add parking in the city center.
“I am disappointed with the agreement we received from the school,” said Pro Mayor Tem Taline Manassian. “For the past four years, we, along with the county, library and district, have been planning the downtown area on the school site. The district’s request has always been to sell us the land.
According to city attorney Laura Mueller, the proposed deal – which was approved by DSISD administrators on April 26 – would prevent the city from selling part of the land for private development. If the city offered part of the land to a non-government entity, through the agreement, the school district would have the option of repurchasing the land for its fair market value.
“I cannot support an agreement that restricts our ability to develop this property as we deem appropriate,” Manassian said. “Right now we have every reason to believe that the city and the library will be on this property, and we anticipate that if that happens, there will be a very limited amount of commercial development on this land. But, we are a city and we need flexibility to adapt if our needs change, if the economy changes.
In previous proposals, she said the city offered to pay the fair market value of the property and take financial responsibility for demolishing current structures and preparing the site for development. The city also stated in writing its commitment to the concept of the downtown project and that it would sell the land back to the district if those plans were abandoned, she said.
“All of this has not been enough to convince the district to go ahead with the sale without restricting our ability to develop the downtown area as we see fit,” Manassian said. “I can support an agreement that allows the city to buy back the property if our plans change, but I cannot support one that has a restriction on use.”
In March, DSISD administrators ended an interlocal deal with the city over the downtown project, citing insufficient assurances that the property would actually be used for downtown purposes.
However, negotiations between the parties continued until April, leading the directors to approve the new sale agreement on April 26. Council chairwoman Barbara Stroud said the council vote signified the district’s continued commitment to the project.
“We are supporting a city center project. We have been supporting it for a long time and we continue to support it,” Stroud said on April 26.