By Jan White
CROCKETT – The Crockett Planning and Zoning Committee met recently to discuss updates on topics related to improvements in the downtown area.
One discussion focused on the idea of a possible ‘matching funds’ project, whereby the City of Crockett could work with property owners to help with exterior updates and restorations. The city receives leases on locally owned property. It was suggested that the approximate $28k a year of lease funds, which have not been earmarked, could be set up in a matching funds account. If a downtown building owner wanted to fix doors, windows, or exterior painting, they could apply for a matching restoration grant. In addition, an offer to help property owners with matching funds might encourage them to rehab their buildings.
Committee member Connie Strban suggested using the grant as an opportunity to contact and guide property owners to use a particular color palette when renovating their buildings, similar to what historic towns like Mesquite or Fredricksburg use. Currently, there are no specific color requirements in Crockett for downtown business owners who want to update their storefronts. In order to enforce a particular color palette, such a requirement would need to be a part of the City Ordinance. Some historic cities have committees whose purpose is to help select compatible color palettes. Guidelines were also proposed as to who might be committee members.
Compliance with certificates of occupancy and sewer and water continue to challenge the committee. Only one of the four buildings that received letters regarding occupancy have responded to the request so far. Another courtesy letter will be sent to property owners before more stringent steps are taken. The committee also talked about the plumbing and water issues that plague some of the buildings located in the block that is bordered by Houston, Fourth, Goliad and Fifth streets. The systems that provide water and sewage are found in a little-known courtyard located in the center of the buildings. Between the narrow entry space and overgrowth and debris found in the courtyard, repairs will be complicated without drastic measures, such as the tear-down of one of the adjacent buildings.
TxDOT is still considering plans to reconfigure the downtown area to make it more pedestrian friendly. So far, the Department seems amenable to rerouting traffic out of the downtown area, which would provide more parking for shoppers, preserve the integrity of the older or decaying buildings from damage caused by vibrations from 18-wheelers, and allow for easier access to downtown businesses.