Johnson County commissioners on Monday discussed a possible partnership between the county and Cleburne concerning maintenance and operation of Market Square. The county owns the downtown Cleburne square. Renovation of the historic square remains under way and is expected to complete soon. County and city leaders hope the improvements will attract more tourism and events as well as use by local residents.
Commissioner Rick Bailey suggested allowing the city to lease and maintain and operate the square. Doing so makes sense, Bailey said, as the city is better situated to issue permits for events and other usage and take care of day-to-day operations. Although the county funded the majority of renovations, the city supplied water connections and sidewalk, curb and gutter work to the project.
Bailey discussed the idea with the Cleburne City Council during a city workshop last month. City leaders took no action, but appeared to be amenable to the idea.
Bailey on Monday asked fellow commissioners for their thoughts on the proposal and guidance moving forward.
“The city is undertaking a [downtown] master plan study and I think this would work right into that,” Bailey said. “Having the city run things would, I think, save a lot of red tape and gridlock and help make the square more marketable and accessible.”
County Judge Roger Harmon disagreed.
“I like having the county run it,” Harmon said. “We’ve done it for years and I think if you change that you’re going to see opposition.”
Harmon said members of the Johnson County Historical Commission may oppose the idea although Bailey said he doesn’t believe they will.
JCHC Chairman John Percifield on Monday said his group will discuss the proposal during their Jan. 28 meeting and announce the group’s stance on the proposal thereafter.
Bailey’s fellow commissioners said they favor discussing the idea with Cleburne officials.
Two road projects will have a major impact on Johnson County’s future, Harmon said.
Members of the Regional Transportation Committee, of which Harmon is a member, announced $30 million in Texas Department of Transportation funding on Thursday to add two additional traffic lanes on U.S. 67 from Texas 174 to Keene.
TxDOT did the same to the portion of U.S. 67 west from Texas 174 to Lake Pat Cleburne. Officials said the projects did and will vastly improve the access and safety of the two-lane highway. Work on the west side section also readied the road for the arrival of Texas 121, a toll road under construction linking Fort Worth and Cleburne.
Engineering on the Cleburne to Keene section is complete, Harmon said, and the project should go to bid soon.
During the same meeting, Harmon said, the committee approved a project to extend Texas 360 to U.S. 67 north of Venus.
Commissioners approved creation of a reinvestment zone near Godley surrounding the present site of Energy Transfer, a pipeline company.
The company plans to invest about $90 million into expansion. Commissioners offered the company a 50 percent abatement on property taxes for seven years on the condition they construct a sound barrier around the current facility and any future expansions.
Company officials must now decide whether to accept the county’s offer, Bailey said.