Seguin City Council pledges $5M for Nolte Dam repairs, restore Meadow Lake
19 Aug 2023
Dalondo Moultrie The Seguin Gazette
The city of Seguin plans to pitch in $5 million to help restore one of the drained Guadalupe River Valley Lakes system lakes dubbed “the people’s lake.”
“If we look at just the property tax issue alone, that justifies $5 million,” Seguin City Councilman Paul Gaytan said. “We heard today that there’s going to be about a 50% decrease in property values if we don’t save this lake, the people’s lake, the lake that runs through our city. So, this $5 million is not something that’s just made up. That is the number that we will lose if we don’t do something about it.”
Gaytan was among the chorus of voices that spoke during Tuesday’s city council meeting urging the elected officials to lend a financial hand. The standing room only crowd cheered when the city council voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution authorizing Seguin City Manger Steve Parker to spend up to $5 million to help the Meadow Lake Nolte Dam Association and its water control and improvement district repair the dam.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority currently owns the dam and several others making up the Guadalupe Valley Lakes system. Four of the dams had spill gate failures that led to dewatering of the lakes those dams created. Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority coordinated water drawdown of the other two.
The river authority’s leadership has said all of the dams are about 100 years old and in need of major work to return them to safe, working order.
Residents around the four dams in Guadalupe County have established water control and improvement districts to raise funds for rehabilitation of the structures.
With just 110 lots surrounding Meadow Lake, property owners have long said they cannot afford on their own to pay for upgrades to the dam the river authority officials recommended. The lake group commissioned a study that came back with a much more financially feasibly solution likely to cost between about $16 million and $20 million, Parker said during Tuesday night’s council meeting where he recommended support of the resolution earmarking funds for the project.
The city would lose property tax revenue if property values decrease without the lake’s return, he said. To offset dam restoration costs and prevent those losses, Parker suggested the city help with money.
“If you were to take that lost revenue and invest it into a solution then that payment of the lost revenue would be used to then put into the dam solution,” he said. “Once that payment is done, then the city is back to the same economic state it was to begin with and there’s no true impact to the rest of the community to pay for this solution.”
The city would issue bonds to come up with the $5 million, Parker said. Meadow Lake Water Control and Improvement District members still have to call for an election to fund its project. Only the property owners who live at those residents can vote to tax themselves. If the election were to fail, the city of Seguin would not be on the hook for any of the $5 million, Parker said.
Not only is lake restoration important financially, but it also constitutes a safety issue, the city manager said.
The dam helps slow down river flows, which can be dangerous if unchecked, he said. Also, the lake helps shore up the riverbank that could erode more quickly with no water filling the lake, Parker said.
Plus, Gaytan said, Meadow Lake adds something to the community that for all to love.
“Why is this the people’s lake, why is this different from Lake McQueeney, why is this different from Lake Placid? It’s different because it runs through the city,” he said. “It’s different because it’s in Glen Cove, it’s in downtown. It’s different because we can go to East Starcke Park and put a kayak in there, our canoe in there. We can fish there. Like people have been fishing there a long time.”
Council’s vote should help leadership at Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority understand the magnitude of Meadow Lake in the community and that it has the backing of the city, said Tess Coody-Anders, a Meadow Lake Water Control and Improvement District board director. The district is in productive conversations with the water authority, she said.
“We’ve reached a critical juncture in the plan to repair the dam and that includes really positive progress in talks with GBRA,” Coody-Anders said. “The next step would be a more formal memorandum of understanding with the WCID and GBRA to transfer ownership of the dam to the WCID.”
Council’s pledge Tuesday should go a long way to show many how important Meadow Lake is too Seguin, she said.
It sends a clear message that the Seguin community and its leaders are resourceful and innovative problem solvers, Coody-Anders said.
“We spent four years thinking about ways to solve what others might have said was an insurmountable challenge. And we’ve done that together as residents and leaders,” she told City Council. “It also says that here in Seguin, we’re resolved to own our destiny and will not be deterred from shaping our own future. Your support of this resolution tonight, supports that clear message.”