As part of the ongoing budget season, the Denison City Council approved a $1.8 million budget for the Denison Development Alliance during a meeting this week. With the new budget, the economic developer is expected to have $2.54 million in funds available for new incentives this upcoming fiscal year.
DDA President Tony Kaai said the budget remains similar to previous budgets but saw the shifting of some funds and the addition of some projects aimed at future development.
“We kind of moved some numbers around and that reduced our marketing budget,” Kaai said before Tuesday’s meeting.
The budget saw the DDA’s revenues increase by nearly $220,000 in sales tax revenues to $2.01 million, bringing its total projected revenues to $2.52 million.
Among the one-time expenses listed in this year’s budget, is $50,000 toward the engineering and planning of the new 160-acre North Pointe Business Park at the intersection of FM 84 and U.S. Highway 75. The proposed business park was discussed initially in 2017 following conversations on how best to develop the site.
In 2017, the DDA budgeted $150,000 for the engineering and planning of the project. Kaai said that this should cover the expenses, but he wanted to include the funds as a precaution in case it runs into the next fiscal year.
The land, located just south of the Oklahoma border, was initially the favored site for the new Denison High School, but DDA officials said the school was moved to the second choice because the initial site was favorable for development.
“What we are going to end up with is a master plan we can use to market the site,” Kaai said, noting that the documents will also prepare the site for water, sewer and gas connectivity.
Kaai said they are waiting to do the actual construction on the utilities until a tenant is ready to move into the business park. However, with high interest in the area, Kaai said, he would not be surprised to see an announcement within the next year.
“Everything is tire-kicking, so you never know,” he said. “However, we have a lot of interest in that prime property.”
While no funds were budgeted for it this year, the budget also mentioned ongoing discussions with an environmental firm and attorney regarding the potential acquisition and cleanup of the former Johns-Manville plant. Located along U.S. 75, Kaai said the former insulation plant would be a prime location for redevelopment, but talks on the purchase of the location have taken years.
Kaai said he has worked the past 18 years of his career since joining the DDA on acquiring the former site, which ceased production of asbestos materials in 1988.
“There hasn’t been a year gone by since ‘88 that there hasn’t been letters, calls on redeveloping that site to be beneficial to the community,” Kaai said, describing the location as an eyesore under its current conditions.
With these discussions, Kaai said that the DDA is simply assessing the costs needed to rehabilitate the site before making any commitment.
The most recent budget also saw the amount of funds for one renovation program triple over previous years. Kaai said the DDA plans to invest $150,000 in the city’s long-standing facade matching grants. While last year the DDA had $50,000 budgeted for the program, Kaai said it will invest triple that as the DDA expands the program to include improvements to exterior side walls and rear of buildings.