Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee

May 28, 2003

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 28th day of May, under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, beginning at 1:35 p.m., to wit:




Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas, Commission Chair

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas

Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas

Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas

Ned S. Holmes, Houstin, Texas

Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas

Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas

Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas (absent)

Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas


Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: The Commission meeting is called to order.

And we will begin the afternoon session with the Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee.

Chairman Angelo?

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: The Chairman has asked me to chair this Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee meeting in the interim of a new Infrastructure Committee chairman being appointed.

The first item would be approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. Do we have a motion?



COMMISSIONER ANGELO: All in favor say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: They are approved.

Mr. Cook, the Chairman's charges?

MR. COOK: We don't have any charges. We've completed all of the Chairman's charges, and we'll be needing to develop new charges for this Committee as we approach September 1.

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Very good. Then we'll move on to the second item on the agenda, which is the capital program update from Steve Whiston.


MR. WHISTON: Good afternoon, Acting Chairman, Chairman Armstrong and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Steve Whiston; I'm the Director of the Infrastructure Division. My briefing this afternoon will focus on the status of bond programs, our current Prop 8 funding strategies and our sustainable design or green building initiative in our division.

Beginning with our bond programs, if you'll recall, the Department was authorized $60 million in revenue bonds in 1997 in the 75th legislative session. We received those funds in four issues over four years beginning in Fiscal Year '98 through Fiscal Year 2001. I'm happy to announce this morning that the first two revenue bond installments for '98 and '99 are substantially complete, and I'm also pleased to report that we're making steady progress in expending the last two remaining issues.

This slide summarizes all four issues, or the combined total revenue bond program of 60 million. We've completed 349 of the 410 projects that were funded with those proceeds and have expended to date 57.3 million of the 64 million in bond proceeds that we received for the sale of those revenue bonds.

This past January, we received 36.68 million of general obligation bonds. This was the first installment of a total of $101.5 million that was authorized in the last legislative session, the 77th session, and approved by the voters as a part of Proposition 8 in November of 2001. We're making great progress with the 98 projects that make up this issue.

These monies, as I pointed out, were made available to us in January. And so far, we've completed six projects of that 98, we've expended $1.14 million of that issue and have another $1.3 million encumbered in design and construction contracts.

This matrix is the six-year funding strategy for our GO bond program that was intended to be funded over three biennia. The first column, as you'll note, under FY '02/'03 reflects the intended distribution of that first $36.68 million which we received. Likewise, we were to receive 34.3 million in FY '04/'05 and another 30.6 million in '06/'07.

As Mary pointed out this morning, because of the budget shortfall, the House/Senate Conference Committee did not approve the debt service for our '04/'05 issue in our appropriations bill. As a result, our next installment of the 34.3 million in GO bonds that we anticipated being made available in September will be postponed.

Because of our progress with three of the four park construction projects on the lower part of the list on the slide and because of –– no additional funding is going to be made available until possibly FY '06, we propose to redirect a portion of the funding for the San Jacinto monument, for Admiral Nimitz and for Levi-Jordan this fiscal year to other critical state-wide repairs elsewhere in the state.

This is an amended funding strategy that, as you'll note, extends now our revenue funds issued into the FY '08/'09 biennium. This strategy proposes that our funding that was scheduled for major repair that was reflected in the previous slide as 16 million is now increased to 17.59 million or 17.6 million, those funds being redirected from those three park construction projects.

We're also proposing that the remaining funding that's necessary to complete the San Jacinto Battleground and the Battleship Texas, Admiral Nimitz and Levi-Jordan be included in the next issue, hopefully, in the '06/'07 issue. Of course, all of this is contingent upon the legislative approval in the next legislative session.

The last two slides illustrated how our bonds are funded. This particular slide illustrates how we propose to spend those bonds. This is our –– this is a look at our revised expenditure strategy for the GO bonds.

If you'll note, as indicated in the upper blue bar, we anticipate completing the current 36.68 million in late summer of 2005 and, hopefully, as it turns out, not too long before the issue of our '06/'07 installment, as represented in that middle blue bar toward the lower portion of the slide, that we hope to –– we could possibly receive as early as October or November in 2005.

Obviously, our concern is that small gap between these two issues, when we fully expend the 36.68 million in September and the time –– the start-up of our '06/'07 issue, which should be two or three months beyond that point. It's during that time that we will hope to be dependent upon other capital funding sources to help carry us over. Again, this is all subject to, you know, legislative appropriation of debt service in our future legislative sessions for our remaining bond authority.

I wanted to also share with you this afternoon our progress in meeting our expenditure goals for this fiscal year. This includes –– this slide includes all our current capital funds –– all our current capital funding for this biennium. This includes all bond funds, as well as non-bond funds. And by that, I mean all projects and –– they're not extensive, but all projects that are funded with Fund 64 or Fund 9 with the capital sporting goods tax.

We began the fiscal year with 348 projects budgeted at 72.14 million. We established a goal for ourselves to expend by the end of this fiscal year a minimum of $20 million. Our target, which is the lower yellow line, for the end of this third quarter that ends this May was $15 million. And I'm really happy to report that at the end of this month, we'll –– we will have expended 15.66 million and are happy and hopefully on our way to surpassing our goal.

A program that we are really serious about our division, Infrastructure, and one that we hope will soon better define what we are really all about is sustainable design and construction, or green building. We're determined not to be thought of as just architects or engineers or contractors but regarded in the Agency as conservationists, as well, because, like all our fellow divisions or colleagues in the other divisions in the Agency, we, too, support the mission of the Agency to manage and conserve the cultural and natural resources of the state and to provide hunting and fishing and recreational opportunities.

We do so by thinking green, by incorporating in all our design –– when possible and appropriate, incorporating in all our design and construction projects energy-efficient and environmentally friendly measures that we hope will help conserve our state's dwindling resources.

We consider the effective use and the reduced consumption of energy, of water, of improved air quality and the use of friendly materials to be vital to what we do. We consider that construction –– as an example the construction of wetlands in lieu of building a wastewater treatment plant to be a step forward in meeting our mission.

A couple of good examples of our approach to sustainable design and construction is, first, a project that –– we shared some slides with you before –– at Lake Sommerville State Bark at Birch Creek. Among a long list of measures at this site, we were able to orient the building to take maximum advantage of the natural heating and cooling and to allow as much natural light into the interior spaces of the structure as possible.

We used energy-efficient windows in its construction, as well as other energy-efficient building components throughout the building. We incorporated, as you'll see in that upper left slide, a rainwater collection system to collect water runoff from the roof for landscape irrigation at the site.

Another project which we're very proud of is, of course, the new Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center; at this site, we're using recycled building materials to construct the facilities there. We're going to be using or incorporating solar water heating systems and using passive solar designs to reduce the heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

We're fortunate to be partnering at this project –– with this project with Ducks Unlimited to construct the wetlands and the ponds and the habitats at the center. We've also and are proud to have received a grant from SECO, or the State Energy Conservation Office, of $100,000 for this project to acquire alternate energy equipment. And with that money, we intend to buy solar or photo-voltaic panels, water catchment systems and water retainment systems to further enhance the environmental friendly quality of this project.

We're really excited about Sheldon and Lake Sommerville and all the projects that we use –– are involved in, rather, and feel like it's our way of contributing to the Agency's mission. That concludes my presentation this morning; it's brief. And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Do the Commissioners have any questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Do you have a list of exactly which items we're deferring and which items we're spending money on in the reallocation of the capital?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. I sure do. I don't have that with me, but I can sure provide that to you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Yes. I'd like to see that.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Are the items we're spending the money on items that can't wait a couple of years ––

MR. WHISTON: Exactly. So that's the ––

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: –– to be effective or are urgent?

MR. WHISTON: That's the process that we went through, Commissioner, and are going to continue to go through for the next few months prior to the end of the fiscal year to reexamine what our state-wide priorities are. And with the money that remains available to us out of the 36.68, we're going to direct that to projects that are critically important, ones that we are going to need to accomplish in the next couple of years.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Bob, this credibility question comes up every –– whenever we have bond campaigns, people are always coming out from the city saying, you know, They said they'd do this, and they didn't do that. And it becomes a very hard obstacle over the years. Do you think we've gone out so publicly on some of these projects and told people what we're going to do and when we're going to do it that we're going to hurt the Department's credibility?

MR. COOK: Well, I think the –– and, actually, I was going to ask Steve to go back to the slide here that shows the original funding schedule and the proposed funding schedule, because I think it's important that you understand what –– the decision that we're having to make here. And I think the danger is in those park-specific funding projects, the San Jacinto Battleship, Nimitz, Sheldon and Levi-Jordan. Those were specified. You know, our other projects are all pretty well lined out –– I mean the roof, you know, the clean water ––


MR. COOK: –– and the health and human safety issue. We have never had any question about them. If anything, I think it is well documented and well justified.

The situation being that –– let's take –– the classic example would be the battleship, but it doesn't really fit what –– our budget. In other words, if you start the project at Levi-Jordan or if you start the project at San Jacinto, you can run that –– you run those utilities out so far and you get to some point. And without sure funding coming in the next biennium, you can just end up stepping off out there in the middle of nowhere.

And, Steve, I'm probably not saying this the best way, but that's the way I understand it.

In that –– so we're having to –– like at the Nimitz ––

And, Steve, correct me if I'm wrong.

–– we're going to finish up the old hotel building, finish the roof and finish the area of exposure there that we've got the most risk at, but we're not going to go ahead with –– you know, possibly we need to ––

MR. WHISTON: Correct. Yes, sir. You're absolutely correct. And you said it –– stated it well. Nimitz is a good example, and San Jacinto's a good example.

We looked carefully at the scope of all those projects. And in particular, at the Nimitz, we are underway now with the completion of the master plan. We are feeling the necessity of going forward with the renovation and repair of the roof system at the hotel and some other structural repairs on the exterior, but the balance of that scope, the balance of those funds, are really of no immediate use to us until the subsequent funding is made available to us.

So there –– it makes little sense to us or not –– doesn't seem prudent for us, you know, to sit on those remaining funds until FY '06 so that we can go forward with the balance of that scope or that project. So we propose to take –– in the case of the Nimitz, we're going to spend, I believe, about $260,000 of the $500,000 that was made available to us on the work that's ongoing, and then we're going to defer that balance, that 2.4 [sic] to '06/'07 and redirect the cash to other critical repairs elsewhere in the state.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Using that example, what are we giving up that we would have done this year?

MR. WHISTON: Landscaping, signage, wayfaring and other kinds of external repairs to the site.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: And what will we do with those same dollars?

MR. WHISTON: Those dollars will be redirected to other critical projects: Water/wastewater systems at other parks or fisheries or wildlife facilities. We will eventually spend that 2.4 [sic] at Nimitz. When the funding is reestablished, hopefully, in '06/'07, those monies will come back into that project, and we'll go forward with the original scope.

MR. COOK: And it might be, you know, we have –– I know we have made pretty much all of the contacts with the people involved in those projects. And they know what our situation is downtown with the funding gap that we're –– you know, we've suddenly encountered here. And we're talking to them, Steve. And you might ––

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir.

MR. COOK: –– touch on that point, too.

MR. WHISTON: That's very true, yes.

MR. COOK: As soon as we heard that this was a possibility, we immediately made contact with the people at Levi-Jordan, the Nimitz and the battleship. But ––

MR. WHISTON: That's exactly right.


MR. WHISTON: We thought that was incumbent upon us –– Excuse me.

We agree completely. We thought it was incumbent upon us to let our constituents know and let our customers know, you know, what our intentions were.

And so we've been in meetings and have been in conversations with each of these friends groups, you know, for each of these sites to reassure them that, you know, we're not really robbing from their project and we're just –– because of our budget situation, we're just postponing or delaying the work that we had originally proposed there. And with little exception, every one of those groups and every one of those individuals involved were really receptive and understanding of the situation.

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Any other questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: If not, do we have any other business to come before this committee?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER ANGELO: There being none, Madam Chairman, the Infrastructure Committee is adjourned.

Thank you, Steve.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you.



(Whereupon, this meeting was concluded.)


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: May 28, 2003

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through , inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.


(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting, Inc.

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