The public meeting, conducted by the City of Sulphur Springs regarding a proposed grant application to help pave the road into the city-owned former Thermo/Luminant mine property, received no opposition.
The city posted a public notice regarding the city’s intent to apply for $2,976,960 from the Economic Development Administration Program Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, including CARES Act funding, to engineer and construct roadway into the property to provide heavy truck access as an intended Industrial Economic Development Property that is located at FM 1870 Southeast of downtown Sulphur Springs approximately 3-miles from I-30.”
A public meeting was announced and notice posted for Sept. 28 to allow anyone who might be affected by the activities in the area to express concerns and to provide information about the planned project. Mailing and email addresses were also provided for those who preferred to submit written comments as well.
While the proposal to rezone the mine property as heavy industrial was met with opposition and even an online petition, the proposal for grant funding to concrete the road into the mine did not. Sulphur Springs Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski and Finance Director Lesa Smith were present, along with Ark-Tex Council of Governments Executive Director Chris Brown and Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County EDC Executive Director Roger Feagley were present at Monday’s public meeting; no community members opted to attend the meeting.
The application for grant funding to construct the concrete road received approval of the Sulphur Springs City Council during a special meeting Sept. 22. A resolution which received full council approval authorizes the city manager, or his designee, to act on behalf of the City of Sulphur Springs to prepare and submit the $2,976,960 application for funding from the Economic Development Administration Program Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, including CARES Act funding.
Smith, on Sept. 22, explained that the city has the opportunity to apply for the EDA Public Works grants throughout the year.
“This has CARES Act funding with it. I did speak to an EDA grant representative last week and he did say wee would qualify based on the things that have happened in the economy in regards to the pandemic,” Smith told the council during the meeting, conducted via Zoom and streamed on YouTube.
“The CARES Act funding allows an 80/20 match, which gives us up to a $3 million grant amount whereas if we only did a Public Works grant we would only be eligible for $1 1/2 million. The CARES Act, given the amount of funds available, time is of essence to from what we are hearing from EDA and our ArkTex as far as trying to get this going,” Niewiadomski said at the Sept. 22 City Council meeting.
The project we would help pave 2 miles of concrete road going into the mine, off FM 1870 and going into mine. Funding is tied to economic development of some sort. This would provide opportunities for industrial development in the mine. Without the road, it will be harder to attract economic development, according to Smith.
City Manager Marc Maxwell at last week’s meeting explained there are two haul roads, one that spans east to west and the other that spans north to south. The intended road would be on top of the existing north-south road, across the railroad tracks then go on to FM 1870
“So there would be a new entrance out on 1870,” Niewiadomski said. “Rather than follow the curve parallel to the railroad track, once it crossed the railroad track it would go straight to 1870. So, it would be a shorter distance.”