Downtown leisure district will likely be increasing

TEXARKANA, Texas – The city council unanimously voted on Monday to create a downtown entertainment district that allows open alcohol containers outside.

The measure amends the city’s alcoholic beverages ordinance and comes into effect on June 24, creating a continuous downtown entertainment district on both sides of the state border. Texarkana, Arkansas, founded its district in 2019. Officials hope the plan will boost downtown activity.

“I hope that it will ultimately lead to more downtown investments, more businesses, more restaurants and bars. And I hope that it will allow residents to enjoy themselves downtown and not have to worry about the Cross the state line, “said Lisa Thompson, city economics development specialist.

The move will provide residents “a seamless transition between downtown Arkansas and the Texas side, an opportunity to experience the downtown restaurants on both sides,” said interim city manager David Orr.

Individuals are allowed to have open non-glass containers of alcoholic beverages in the open air in the district, with the exception of Sundays between 2:15 a.m. and 12 p.m. and other days between 2:15 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. All other alcohol-related laws, including the need for permits for the sale of alcohol and the ban on open containers in vehicles remain in force.

The borough’s boundaries span more than 12 city blocks. It will include downtown locations like the Perot Theater, Texarkana Regional Arts Center, Art Park, Kress Gap, Ace of Clubs House, Pecan Point, Silvermoon on Broad, and the Farmers’ Market. The Bi-State Justice Building is excluded.

Purchase of land at the airport

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Texarkana Airport Authority to purchase 38 hectares of land adjacent to the Texarkana Regional Airport property. The Texarkana Arkansas board of directors must approve a meeting next week before the purchase can be made.

Together with the land the airport already owns, the purchase will result in a block of 120 hectares of land available for development, airport managing director Paul Mehrlich told the council.

“Our goal is to work together with the REDI group and use it to recruit air freight at the airport,” he said, referring to the regional business development organization AR-TX REDI.

Sidewalk Grant Applications

The council approved applications for grants from the Texas Department of Transportation to fund improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

The city will spend $ 1.8 million on sidewalks along Kennedy Lane and $ 800,000 on sidewalks along Leopard Lane from two different TxDOT funding programs, Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TASA) and Safe Routes to School -Infrastructure (SRTS), request.

No matching funding is required for SRTS grants, but TASA grants require a 20% grant, which the city would pay with a combination of in-kind and cash. Federal funding could cover gaming expenses.

Re-zoning, permits

The council also holds hearings and approved a number of requests for reassignment and approval.

A vacant lot north of Gazola Str. 100 is being rezoned in order to build multi-family houses there. The property owner is considering donating it to the mountain. Sinai House of Prayer Church, which has proposed several apartment building projects in the immediate area.

Much in 302 Daniels St. is being rezoned to enable a double-wide prefabricated house there. The council also approved a special use permit for the site. Another approved application is the 605 Ward Ave Zone. umzone to allow a double width there.

The council also approved a site plan for the construction of a Panda Express restaurant at 3100 St. Michael Drive.

Block grants for community development

The council heard initial briefings on three measures in connection with the federal block grants for municipal development. Public hearings and votes will follow during the next scheduled meeting of the Council on July 12th.

One would amend the city budget to include more than $ 293,000 in CDBG funding received as a result of the COVID Aid CARES bill. The second would move $ 163,000 from an inactive loan fund to another fund that will repay CDBG-guaranteed loans. The third would approve the city’s 2021 action plan for CDBG funds.

District 4 councilor Christie Page was absent from the meeting so Mayor Bob Bruggeman took part in the vote according to the town’s rules.