by A.C. Hall
Benbrook residents looking to grow their own food might soon have a place to do so in Dutch Branch Park as the council unanimously passed a resolution creating the Benbrook Community Garden. Brought forward by a group of local garden enthusiasts, the community garden has been given funding not to exceed $30,000 and is targeting park land behind the YMCA for construction.
“I really can’t think of a greater example of people embracing our city and digging in our soil and growing things here,” council member Jim Wilson said.
The garden will look to promote gardening, provide residents a chance to grow their own produce and also give a place that can educate citizens about food sources. It will contain 38 garden plots, benches and seating areas. Construction is expected to take five or six weeks, and the garden will be run by volunteers.
One obstacle that remains is getting permission from the Army CORPS of engineers to use this section of the park for the garden. Early conversations with local CORPS representatives were positive, but with the federal government shutdown in effect an official answer may be delayed. No money will be expended until an answer is given from the CORPS.
Also coming to the city is a new hike and bike trail. Council unanimously passed this $15,000 project that is being done as part of an interlocal agreement with Tarrant County. The twelve foot wide paved trail will run from Beach Road to the east parking lot of the YMCA. Tarrant County will furnish labor and equipment on the project.
ATMOS RATE CHANGE
Benbrook is a member of the ATMOS Steering Committee, a group made up of over 100 municipalities that fights on behalf of the cities to get fair rates from ATMOS. Budget Director Sherri Newhouse presented this item to council, giving them information about the rate increase system now being used by ATMOS. The energy company was looking to operate under an increase system known as GRIP, but the steering committee found this to be an unfair system, as it gave municipalities little chance to get involved in rate increase discussions. Instead, ATMOS is now seeking rate increases through a rate review mechanism. “The rate review mechanism allows for a more comprehensive rate review and an annual adjustment,” Newhouse said.
There was a large difference between what ATMOS was seeking under each of the rate increase systems.
“The steering committee’s consultants calculated that had Atmos filed under the Grip provisions, Atmos would have received additional revenue in excess of 28 million dollars,” Newhouse said.
Instead, under the rate review mechanism, ATMOS was looking for a $22.7 million increase. The steering committee analyzed the request and negotiated with ATMOS, bringing the increase down to $16.6 million in the process. This means the average customer’s bill will go up around 74 cents a month.
Council unanimously passed a motion to approve the rate increase.