City approves final plans for construction of new Holiday Inn Express


City council members on Tuesday gave final approval to Summit II Developers LLC for the shared expenses of providing water and sewer service to a new Holiday Inn Express that will be built on the I-10 frontage road. The proposed location is immediately east of the Super 8 on the I-10 frontage road.

Glen Kistenmacher, the engineer in charge of the project, said that construction is ready to begin almost immediately. The council’s approval of this last detail will ensure the project will proceed as quickly as possible.

Although Mr. Kistenmacher did not have the total number of rooms readily available, he said the three-story hotel would have between 125 and 150 rooms.

The much larger hotel will provide a financial windfall for the Town of Van Horn. According to City Administrator Fran Malafronte, the 62-room Hampton Inn is doing between $170,000 and $190,000 in monthly room sales. The city collects roughly $12,800 per month in hotel-motel taxes every month. In addition, the city, as well as the other taxing entities will benefit as well through the collection of ad valorem taxes.

Ms. Malafronte added that any safety concerns about a three-story hotel were put to rest when the city was first approached with the project. She said she immediately asked the developer to provide complete insurance coverage as well as having an assurance from the underwriter that the hotel would be fully insured. One of the safety features will include a water sprinkler system throughout the hotel.

After discussion of the hotel, Ms. Malafronte said she received a bombshell from West Texas Gas. She said she meets with these representatives from time to discuss the municipal gas company operated by the Town of Van Horn. This time the representatives told her that they would be interested in buying the city’s gas company. It was a preliminary discussion only, and now city council members must decide whether to proceed with a potential sale. More information will be made available later, said Ms. Malfronte.

In other action: aldermen:
•Approved summer working hours from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
•Approved a request for a summer worker (PIC) program for up to three employees to work 20 hours per week at $7.25 per hour
•Approved enrolling newly elected Alderman Ryan Martinez to attend a city officials’ orientation seminar in San Antonio
•Accepted the 2014 Consumer Confidence Report and allow distribution of the report regarding the city water system as mandated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and allow public participation on June 30
•Took no action on retiree policy regarding health benefits for retired employees
•Discussed whether to accept an offer from West Texas Builders repurchase empty lots in the Austin Heights subdivision
•Approved contract with Allied Compliance for the city’s drug and alcohol testing program
•Approved $200 to be spent as incentives and contest prizes during the library’s Summer Reading Program
•Approved quote for $21,500 from Ramser Media to develop and print the new Van Horn Visitor’s brochure. Previously, Gil Potts from Northern Graphics had been tapped for the brochure project, but after being paid $11,000, the project was never produced. The deadline was last November. Ms. Malafronte said that she is preparing a packet to provide Sheriff Oscar Carrillo to file charges against Mr. Potts. She said that Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the Clark Museum will also file charges.
•Approved a request from El Paso Electric to have city create an overhead easement at 1801 W. Broadway to extend lines for Convention Center
•Approved a request from Pride General Contractors to add about 800 square feet of acoustica ceiling tile at the Convention and Visitors Bureau in the amount of $3,680.80.
•Approved request from 4-H to have city donate six loads of water to the rodeo arena for Roping and Ranch Rodeo during Jubilee.


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