Growth continues unabated with more expected, Cleburne Economic Development Director Grady Easdon said on Wednesday.
“We’re just continuing to see growth like we’ve never seen before,” Easdon said. “I’m excited because, as we say over and over, new rooftops are the primary driver of new retail. I’m not going to lie, Cleburne has been a bit of a retail desert for a while but we’re starting to see that turn.
“I get almost daily interest from brokers and investors who want to put some type of retail or restaurant. Invariably they ask about the housing situation, ask how many are under construction and how many we have coming. So the two are really linked. We’re going to keep pushing forward and I don’t see any signs of it slowing anytime soon.”
Whistle Stop Christmas
Easdon and City Manager Steve Polasek discussed several city matters including the recent announcement that Whistle Stop will stage at Market Square this year instead of Hulen Park as it had for the past 21 years.
Cleburne Chamber of Commerce President Cathy Marchel recently announced that the move was taken on advice of attorneys representing the city in a pending lawsuit.
The family of Jordan Diaz, 16, filed suit in the 413th District Court last month alleging negligence on the city’s part.
Diaz received a shock on July 1 at the park after he touched a city light pole. Diaz was transported to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne and subsequently flown to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Polasek, on Aug. 6, said Diaz is doing well from what he’s heard but could not otherwise discuss the case given that it’s an ongoing legal matter.
Several questioned whether the park, which remains open, is safe following the announcement of Whistle Stop’s move.
“The park is safe for patrons to utilize,” Polasek said Wednesday. “It’s not an issue. The park is safe and has been safe.”
Several took to social media to question and/or voice displeasure with the decision to relocate Whistle Stop.
Polasek stressed that Whistle Stop is a chamber event.
“I think the press release the chamber issued is pretty self explanatory,” Polasek said. “For someone to twist or take that in a different meaning makes no sense.”
Whether Whistle Stop returns to Hulen Park next year remains to be determined, he said.
“We’re going to work with the chamber to make the event the best possible event Cleburne can have,” Polasek said. “Where it ends up is not going to be a city decision alone. Obviously the chamber is going to drive that. They have the experience having run the event and run it very well for many years and we want to support them.
“I think this is an opportunity to look at any and all locations for future growth of the event as a whole. It may very well end up back at Hulen Park after this year. But that’s going to be driven by a multitude of individuals involved in that decision making process, and we’re just a small part of that.”
Whistle Stop remains an important part of Cleburne, both said, and the decision to move it this year was not made arbitrarily.
“Whistle Stop has gained a great statewide recognition,” Easdon said. “Why would we want to make it smaller or not as good?”
This year’s location change brings challenges and opportunities, Cleburne Chamber President Cathy Marchel said. Many of the Whistle Stop mainstays will be on hand but the fate of several others remains to be determined.
“Whistle Stop has always been about bringing families and friends together to celebrate Christmas and this move doesn’t change any of that,” Marchel said.
Out in the street
Street repair projects remain ongoing and upcoming, Polasek said.
“We’re underway on Woodard Avenue right now and will be underway on Grand Avenue soon and then we’re moving to Anglin Street,” Polasek said. “We have streets identified all over the city for repairs.
The current budget includes $4,250,000 for 5.64 miles of mill and overlay on city streets and 3.09 miles of micro surfacing.
“That’s about nine miles of road repair and construction plus a couple of miles already underway that we’re going to be doing in an 18-month period,” Polasek said.
The plan is to get bids back within the next 30 to 60 days then start construction soon after.
Workers have also been busy patching streets and fixing potholes.
“Granted some of the streets are still rough but in the interim we don’t have the major potholes we used to have,” Polasek said. “But, if people see potholes out there please call city hall and we’ll get people out there as quickly as we can. We’d love to catch them all but we need all the eyes and ears of people out on the streets to let us know what needs to be repaired and fixed.