By CLINT FOSTER
Tuesday’s meeting of Mineral Wells City Council was more lively than most; while council members heard a presentation about a new reservoir in Palo Pinto County and city officials presented a new animal control ordinance to council, many citizens showed up for a public hearing concerning a road closure.
Ken Choffel of HDR Engineering was on hand to give a presentation concerning the status of the Lake Palo Pinto Storage Restoration Project and building of the new Turkey Peak Reservoir, located on the east side of and downstream from Lake Palo Pinto.
In the words of City Manager Lance Howerton, the Turkey Peak project will “ensure adequate raw water supplies for our community and county going forward for 50 to 75 years.”
Choffel, the project engineer, provided a detail explanation and slideshow about the project. He explained that Lake Palo Pinto, built in 1964, currently releases water out of the dam, which then runs about 14 miles down Palo Pinto Creek to Brazos. The water is picked up by a channel pump and taken to a pump station. From there, the water travels up a 4-mile pipeline to a hilltop reservoir and water-treatment plant.
This system has worked well for years, but Choffel explained the capacity of Lake Palo Pinto is limited and gradually trending down and the county needs more water resources as populations in Palo Pinto and Parker counties continue to grow.
Enter Turkey Peak; the new reservoir, which will be connected to Lake Palo Pinto by a spillway and boat pass, will offer more water for the area with an emphasis on efficiency. Turkey Peak will hold about 22,577 acre-feet of water – compared to Lake Palo Pinto’s 27,215 acre-feet – but store it in a much smaller area, as the planned surface area for Turkey Peak is just 648 acres compared to Palo Pinto’s 2,176 acres. It will have an average depth of 35 feet, compared to Palo Pinto’s 12-foot depth. This deeper design will also eliminate many problems associated with evaporation during droughts and sedimentation.
Turkey Peak’s location will also cause a 4.5-mile section of Farm-to-Market Road 4 to relocate north east to make room for the reservoir. The indication was that few homes would be effected by the construction of the new lake as well, which is set to begin in 2018 and will take two years to complete.
The project, which has been in its early stages for some time, will total around $71 million. For this reason, Choffel said it is important that they find a partner to help pay for the project.
He added it is important that people vote for Proposition 6 in the Nov. 5 election, because it will allow $2 billion to be transferred from the state’s rainy-day fund to the Texas Water Development Board. This would, in turn, provide low-interest loans for water projects included in the State Water Plan, such as Turkey Peak.
Tuesday night’s public hearing, resulting in the biggest local turnout in three months, was concerning an ordinance that would abandon a portion of N.W. 3rd Street that had not been paved by the city.
Council members initially unanimously approved the abandonment, before they decided to re-open the public hearing. They reopened the hearing because of a misunderstanding that caused many to be late because they thought the meeting began at 6:30 instead of 6 p.m.
The sentiment of the five neighbors who spoke and others in attendance who nearby, was that once the street was abandoned, they said one man planned to put in a development, which would not only ruin the view for those living on the hill, but also destroy the habitat of the wildlife residents enjoyed in the area.
Conversely, the man in question told city council he simply wanted to use the former street as a personal driveway.
A heated discussion ensued and a re-vote split the council in a 3-3 tie, thereby causing the ordinance to fail. When it did, applause broke out from the many neighbors in attendance.
City officials further determined the man could pave the street, if he wanted to pay for it, but could not build anything on the land.
To round out the meeting, Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan presented an ordinance amending the city’s previous ordinances and code concerning animals. This was the culmination of a long road that began in mid-July, when the local Saldana family lost two dogs that were taken to the pound and then euthanized before the family could retrieve them.
The amended ordinance was well received and earned unanimous approval from council members.
In other business, the council unanimously approved:
• A specific-use permit to operate a restaurant (taqueria) on S.E. 22nd Avenue.
• A specific-use permit to operate a taxidermist studio on SE 9th Avenue. The studio would serve exclusively as a store front with the actual taxidermy happening at a remote location.
• An encroachment agreement between the City of Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto General Hospital for street closures associated with construction of PPGH’s medical office building.
• Authorization for the City Manager or his designee to negotiate a contract with a selected architectural firm for roofing design and project services. This was concerning repairs from the hail storm earlier this year that resulted in between $200,000 and $500,000 of damage.