Men's Breakfast Report, May 2014

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday ,May 10th with Jeff Pynes, Freeport City Manager.  Jeff was formerly police chief but was made city manager several years ago with a deal that prevented him from being fired since the city council had fired several city managers. 

A prime topic of discussion was economic development.  The urban renewal district planning is coming along.  The plan is to create an internal municipal utility district with rebate of city property taxes to build the infrastructure for the district.  This will include water, sewer and roads.  The plan will enable the infrastructure to be put in without residents having to pay for them out of city taxes.   

The marina is progressing.  The boat slips are about sixty percent leased and the drystack storage facility is seeing increased business.  Jeff prefers motorboat to sailboat occupant leasers.  He thinks that they spend more money, in contrast to attendee Magnusson, a sailor and former marina manager, who thinks that sailors spend more at local stores. 
The downtown is slowly being revived.  The main problem is that you have to want to be in downtown Freeport in order to come here.  Another problem is that much of the property is owned by distant landlords who have little interest in developing business in the area. 

One active area of development is waterfront housing.  It was pointed out that some of this development would preclude constructing a cyclic walking trail like San Antonio’s Riverwalk.  Jeff thinks that the high taxes from waterfront property more than offset the value of a walking trail. 

Annexation and extraterritorial jurisdiction was discussed.  In the 1960s Freeport annexed the world by annexing ten-foot-wide strips throughout the county to monopolize growth in the county.   These strips are of dubious legality, but haven’t been challenged because nobody wants to pay the legal costs to challenge them.  Jeff said that these strips are of little use since by state law a strip of less than 100 feet wide does not confer extraterritorial jurisdiction.    He also said that he would be open to negotiation with Clute where jurisdictions overlap. 

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, June 14th.