On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court docket mentioned what to do concerning the Palm Faculty. On June 15, commissioners rejected the city’s 2020 offer to purchase the Palm Faculty constructing. The information disenchanted many within the Latino neighborhood who had hoped a switch of possession would happen in order that the constructing would stay a completely public house, preserving its Mexican American cultural heritage.
Diana Ramirez, with the Financial Improvement and Strategic Investments Workplace, briefed commissioners on the county’s previous and future plans for the constructing. She reviewed the actions the Commissioners Court docket has taken over the previous three years “to formalize the courtroom’s dedication to the safety and restoration of the historic and culturally necessary faculty.”
She highlighted the truth that previous actions will lead to extra funding for social service applications and improve connectivity from the county-owned Palm Faculty to the city-owned Palm Park.
“At no time has a commissioner or employees contemplated dropping an enormous tower on the north portion of the Palm Faculty grounds to maximise income,” Ramirez famous. “Nor can we do assume the personal sector could be involved in doing that.”
She talked about that commissioners have been soliciting neighborhood enter on the plan for the constructing since 2017, through advisory boards, committees, neighborhood hearings and surveys. The outcome, Ramirez stated, is the courtroom’s dedication to protect and restore Palm Faculty.
“This consists of making certain that each one restoration is finished in compliance with federal requirements for the rehabilitation of historic properties, requiring that Palm Faculty obtain historic designation standing on the state and nationwide ranges,” she stated.
She underscored commissioners’ prior dedication to public makes use of of the constructing as museum house, nonprofit workplace house, neighborhood occasion house, committee assembly rooms and artist studio house.
“The programming of that house ought to deal with honoring and emphasizing the cultural heritage of the location. This language is included within the restrictive covenants,” Ramirez advised the courtroom.
She additionally famous that 20 p.c of the house shouldn’t be required to be devoted to public use, however will as an alternative be wanted “for mechanical housekeeping and closets, and different administrative and help makes use of.”
Ramirez referred to as on commissioners to approve an modification that might enable her workplace to work on the “entitlements to the property” earlier than shifting to the pre-construction part of the method.
Given the excessive neighborhood curiosity within the undertaking’s end result, Ramirez referred to as on commissioners to look into how sources from the American Rescue Plan Act may very well be used to help in neighborhood engagement.
She additionally famous that commissioners had dedicated to make use of proceeds from the bottom lease or any future sale of Palm Faculty to adjust to the restrictive covenants and “to additional put money into its social service applications.”
Commissioner Margaret Gómez highlighted the necessity for extra neighborhood contact.
“It’s been a 12 months with Covid and we haven’t had any conversations with metropolis officers,” Gómez stated. “I believe we most likely must have a public assembly of some type so we will deliver the neighborhood updated with what we’ve been discussing.”
Gómez proposed a movement to pause additional steps till commissioners have had a chance to fulfill with the neighborhood. All commissioners voted in approval.
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