The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Can We Build The Campus Now?

Seem as if there's a rift on council on whether or not to start invoking eminent domain for a potential Texas A&M- San Antonio campus (TAMU-SA... how do you pronounce that A&Mers? Taa-mooo-sah?):

Mayor Phil Hardberger said Tuesday he wants a solid commitment from Texas A&M to bring a campus to the South Side before he'll get behind the city's proposed $15 million buyout of homes and businesses for a land donation.

The city, he said, still doesn't have a binding agreement with the university, as called for in a City Council resolution in January offering to hand over the property by December 2006.

"I want to firm this up before we actually start buying things," Hardberger said.


Councilman Roland Gutierrez, whose Southeast Side district would be home to the campus, wants to move ahead with the acquisitions. A&M, he said, is committed to building a four-year campus on the site, despite the lack of a signed agreement.

"I think the mayor wants to proceed in a fiscally sound manner, and so do I," Gutierrez said. "But sometimes you have to take a risk."


Councilwoman Elena Guajardo said the lack of construction money concerns her more than the absence of a signed contract with A&M.

"The bottom line, to me and a lot of other people, is we want A&M here," Guajardo said. "But the cart's going too fast on this. I feel very shaky about this."

Councilman Art Hall, on the other hand, is looking to move forward with the acquisitions, despite the current lack of funding and a pact with the university.

"Certainly, for me, that's an issue," he said. "But if you buy the property, you have an asset, and you can sell it (if financing falls through). It's not like we're wasting money."

Should we have something better than a 'favorable concurrence' from the A&M Board of Regents? Yes. Should that keep us from evicting families? Yes. Do we need to hurry this whole process up? Yes.

You see, unlike others, I believe there is an actual demand for a four-year, institution of higher education on this side of town. But we should have an agreement in hand before we go about spending fifteen million dollars of the city's money to evict families and businesses. Making financially risky business decisions or getting the city into the San Antonio real estate market isn't really a convincing argument to push people off their land.