McCall and Bergmann address the Gateway
A Texas County Commissioner is an elected official and should be a public servant first. In exercising their authority to serve the people, a County Commissioner should never lose sight of representing the people’s desires and rights. You, as the citizens of Kendall County, deserve to know what issues will affect our precinct and our county or even you, personally. I want you to be informed about what is happening in your area, solicit your comments and represent you before we all find out it is a “Done Deal” in the media.
I believe there should be clear and open communication between the county government and the people they serve. Based on feedback from Kendall County residents, I would work to implement an updated website. The “Kendall County Website” should be user friendly, easy to navigate and should also include the county’s plans for roads and development projects.
It should allow Commissioners to post links to their social media, office hours and scheduled neighborhood precinct meetings. The website should also have the capability to search the Commissioners Court agendas and minutes, from historical to present. Social media can be used as an effective tool for real-time communication. As your Commissioner, I will also utilize social media to inform the residents of Precinct 1 of neighborhood meetings, precinct or countywide issues, provide important updates and sharing notices/alerts.
Our county has been reported as one of the fastest growing counties in Texas. Along with this growth comes mobility problems and congestion. In the past, plans were introduced to build an entire road system around Boerne forming a loop.
Two loops were proposed between 2005 to 2018 that did not address the local congestion in the City of Boerne and Kendall County. They drew lines on a map without any in-depth study and without adequate public input. After the citizens voiced opposition to both of the proposed TxDOT regional loops, the majority of the members of the Kendall County Commissioners Court responded by rejecting the loops by vote and signing resolutions.
As a result of the Loops being rejected by the citizens, a committee was formed in July 2019 to study transportation issues that affect Kendall County, now and in the future. The Kendall County Commissioners, Boerne City Council and Fair Oaks Ranch City Council formed the Kendall County Boerne Fair Oaks Transportation Committee (KCBFOTC). This committee is made up of representatives of key organizations, invited citizens and elected officials tasked with developing a transportation plan. All Kendall County and Fair Oaks Ranch citizens have been encouraged to join the subcommittees. All meetings are open to the public, the agendas and minutes are posted on their website “KCBFOTC.com”. I support this committee as a step in the right direction to address the growing transportation concerns Kendall County citizens are facing. I would encourage all interested residents to attend the meetings and, if possible, join one of the subcommittees.
This past week I have enjoyed meeting many new people who told me they were pleased to meet a candidate running for office, some of whom said, this was the first time. In the upcoming weeks, I will continue to meet and talk to as many Precinct 1 constituents as I can. It is my heart’s desire to meet the needs of the people, so if I have missed you, please contact me. As your elected Commissioner, I hope to reach out to each of you, find out what your needs are and how they can be met.
Long before I ever became a County Commissioner, even before my time as a City Councilwoman, decisions were made that would forever change the landscape of Boerne and Kendall County. Development agreements were approved for neighborhoods like Regent Park and Esperanza, to name only two, which at full development would double the size of Boerne. The reality is that even if Boerne and Kendall County never approved another development from this day forward, so many of the developments which were already approved will continue to add large numbers to our population for years to come.
This is a reality that cannot be ignored; a reality which requires bold ideas and leadership. Although it would be politically convenient, saying “no” is no longer, and never was, a solution. But I never set out to be a Commissioner because of political convenience. I became a Commissioner because I wanted to ensure the city and county I was raised in would continue to be a wonderful place to live for future generations.
I have had to make some difficult decisions. I have had to bear witness to some changes that I did not necessarily like. It wasn’t easy to see Home Depot come to town. I knew what that meant to our family business, Bergmann Lumber. But someone used their property rights to develop a piece of land that would host the Home Depot. And several years before I was born, about 100 acres of Bergmann family land would give way to IH-10.
Today thousands of drivers use that highway to move across our great state. Many of those drivers are residents of our county going to jobs in San Antonio and surrounding communities.
Kendall County is still growing and as I mentioned before, it will continue to grow even if no other development is approved. As it grows, more and more vehicles will congest our roadways.
A few years ago, both Kendall County and the City of Boerne asked TxDOT to conduct a study of mobility in our county. That was the Gateway Study. TxDOT spent just under $1.5 million to conduct a long study of traffic movement around our county. Before the study was completed, before anyone even knew where the projected routes might go, some opposition against the study began to take root. The word Gateway became a four-letter word within some circles and, unfortunately, politically unpopular to the point that most elected officials wanted nothing to do with it.
There were some parts of the Study I found disagreeable and unable to support, however, I thought it would be prudent to consider the entire study carefully. After all, how could I, along with the other commissioners and the city council, vote to approve a study and then soundly reject it without consideration?
The facts are such:
1. I did not vote for the Gateway. The opportunity to vote for the Gateway was never presented. The agenda item that evening was to reject the Gateway Study in its entirety. While the others were ready to discard the entirety of the study without consideration for even one aspect of it, I voted to accept the study so that we could then have it in our toolbox of ideas.
2. I never proposed the use of eminent domain to build new roadways. Eminent domain is the right of government to take private property for public use without compensation. Eminent domain should never be anything more than a tool of last resort and only in the most extreme cases for public good. What I advocated was negotiation with landowners with fair compensation.
3. Expanding existing roadways is not a bad idea but in so many places, the county is limited by narrow rights-of-way. In order to widen those roads, we would need to acquire wider rights-of-way. To do that, we would need to negotiate with landowners and compensate them fairly. In the case of landowners not willing to sell the additional right-of-way needed to widen a road, you may even have to use the right of eminent domain. In doing that, you are right back where you started. It is critical to have leadership that does not wet its finger and stick it in the air to determine what might be a popular course of action.
4. The county is woefully behind in the construction of new roads. In the last twenty years, one new road has been built and that was the expansion and extension of Herff Road.
5. There are over 44,000 residents in Kendall County, of which just over 31,000 are registered to vote. There were approximately 400 vocal opponents of the Gateway at each meeting. If you are going to be the voice of the people, are you willing to ignore the silent majority to appease the vocal minority? Is that leadership?
I do not profess to know all the answers or even the right solution for our traffic woes. What I do know is the importance of keeping an open mind, the value in careful consideration of all options, and the importance of listening to all constituents; which includes the many who do want to resolve the issues of mobility in our county.
*The Hill Country Weekly has provided this column space to both of these candidates so that they have a platform to directly address their community, and so that readers can be informed on the the most pressing issues in their precinct. No matter who you choose, all they ask, and all we ask is that you vote!