GrantWorks Planner Danielle Rojas, along with GrantWorks’ Kyungah Lim, led a planning workshop with the The Fulton Town Council and members of that community Tuesday, July 16 to kickoff the development of Fulton’s comprehensive plan.
“We’re here because Fulton received a grant to fund its comprehensive plan,” said Rojas. “Think of it like a grocery list, and tonight we’re going to have a conversation to build that grocery list.”
Almost immediately the discussion centered on the need for street maintenance/upgrades and drainage work.
A number of streets in Fulton were identified as needing work. The problem with large trucks rumbling down Fulton’s streets during oyster season was also acknowledged.
Rojas noted flooding/drainage issues are generally a problem in all small communities, primarily due to funding issues.
Everyone agreed the worst drainage issues are those areas located on the west side of Highway 35.
Fulton Sewer and Street Supervisor Matt Olenick said the worst street flooding areas are Fulton Beach Road (FBR), Mesquite Street and Lone Star Road.
As the crowd talked about needs and/or desires for the future, Rojas and Lim placed them in groups under headings such as things the town wants to achieve, preserve, avoid, or eliminate.
A hike and bike trail along FBR and sidewalks were also noted as desired amenities for the town.
“We have people who walk everywhere,” said Mayor Jimmy Kendrick.
“I think everyone would like to have a hike and bike trail along FBR,” said Alderwoman Beverly Garis.
Alderman Larry Pahmiyer mentioned more lighting as a need.
Rojas noted writing and adopting a comprehensive plan is challenging to do, but worth it. She said with such a plan in place it is easier to determine what grants to seek to help fund wanted projects.
In regard to housing, Russel Cole said he thought after Hurricane Harvey people would “run away from the area,” but there hasn’t been a huge drop in the real estate business.
“In Fulton, if you put a ‘for sale’ sign up, it gets sold,” he said.
Kendrick said its tough on first time homebuyers.
“We need to get younger families and children here,” he said.
Cole noted there is a big need for low-income to moderate-income housing. Hurricane Harvey destroyed most of that type (workforce) housing.
He also noted it’s hard for first time homebuyers to obtain financing.
Kendrick said individuals and families seem to be living paycheck to paycheck in more instances after the storm.
“One fear I have is all these new homes people are getting, and now they will have to pay much higher taxes,” he said. “It’s going to hurt when on a fixed income.”
Cole said the price for windstorm insurance is another negative.
Rojas then led the discussion in the direction of what is needed to attract young people/families.
Kendrick said Aransas County is a great place to retire.
“(One way to attract young people) would be to make recreational areas accessible and connected,” he said.
Fulton Director of Building Codes and Facilities Johnny Davis said, “There aren’t a lot of thing geared toward younger people.”
Kendrick said many things, such as movie theaters and bowling areas, are being built in Aransas Pass due to its location, midway between here, Port Aransas, and Portland.
An unidentified teenager, who just returned from Young Life camp, said, “We need more things for kids (to do) inside, in shaded areas.”
Kendrick noted local churches are providing many of the activities for area youth.
Rojas asked what growth might look like considering Fulton is landlocked (can’t expand its borders since it is surrounded by the City of Rockport).
Kendrick said activity will be more or less back to normal once the Fulton Convention Center / Paws & Taws and the Fulton Pier are rebuilt.
Nancy Arispe noted there aren’t many places in Fulton that can be used for additional park space.
“If you can’t go out, what about up?” asked Rojas.
Pahmiyer said the town could use another nice hotel.
Kendrick said most businesses that could go up to the four-story limit in Fulton will be hotels and apartments.
“Keep high rises off the waterfront?” asked Rojas.
The crowd said, “yes” in unison.
Another woman encouraged Fulton officials to plan for additional parking if there is more growth.
Kendrick added he wants to see more retail stores in downtown Fulton, in addition to restaurants and bars.
“Rockport shuts down at 5 p.m. (and people) come here,” he said.
Rojas said is appears Fulton has the nightlife, but needs areas to attract people during the day.
The workshop lasted about 45 minutes. GrantWorks will organize the information gathered at Tuesday’s planning workshop and start the next phase of the planning process.