By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
A potential new beautification grant from the EDC would fund roadway signs and landscaping for businesses on State Highway 29.
Executive Director Lance Dean submitted the proposal with a draft text for its terms and application process. The discussion was tabled until further research can be done into appropriate spending caps.
The grant would help business owners on SH 29 buy new roadway signs or renovate their current ones. Additionally, a separate form would allow them to request funds for landscaping projects, such as planted flowers.
The Board agreed that the grant should be limited to businesses that already exist, are within the city limits, and who already meet ordinance standards.
Dean said that the proposal came to him after seeing the “great effect” that the EDC’s downtown facade grants have had.
“Why can’t we do that in the town’s main thoroughfare?” Dean said. “Signs and landscaping are the first thing you notice driving through a town.”
Facade grants are used to subsidize projects beautifying the downtown area.
Majda Parker of Parker’s Corner Market was approved for a facade grant in April to continue renovations on a dilapidated building downtown, which she hopes to make into an events venue. Another was granted earlier this year to the Masonic Lodge for repairs to the stained glass on their downtown building.
The facade grant does not cover all expenses, but matches spending up to a ceiling amount.
The Board unanimously agreed that a similar structure should be in place for a potential sign and landscaping grant, to protect against excessive expenses and accusations of unfairness.
The question became how to set a high enough amount to be “enticing” without causing too much strain on the EDC’s pockets.
In particular, the expense of electronic signs came as a particular concern among members.
Director John Clark said that the electronic screen sign that was recently erected outside the new Liberty Hill Learning & Event Center cost roughly $40,000. The new marquee sign for A Texas Girl’s Guns cost roughly $16,000.
It was feared that if businesses applied for both grants, only a handful could be done every year before the budget for the program is completely exhausted.
Director Rick Hall suggested setting the matched funds at 50 percent for both sign and landscape proposals. Funding for a sign improvement would be capped at $10,000, and landscaping at $5,000.
He later made a motion for his numbers, which failed.
Chapman suggested that those figures should be reversed between the signs and landscaping, but he and Vice President Eric Van Natter were vocal in expressing a need for more research to be done before any action.
The item was ultimately tabled, and Dean and Clark volunteered to perform further research before it is brought up again.