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Nueces County amphitheater violates settlement agreement, businessman says

Nueces County settlement agreement
Posted at 11:12 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 14:04:05-04

ROBSTOWN, Texas — An amphitheater currently being built as part of a $30 million energy savings contract violates the terms of a settlement signed by Nueces County, local businessman Bill Durrill told commissioners Wednesday.

"And in that lawsuit, it states, certain provisions that I don't believe have been adhered to," Durrill told commissioners. "And I would like for the county court to review that lawsuit, consider it and take into account your future dreams of building an amphitheater in Robstown."

The amphitheater, which is planned for the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, has completed the design phase. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales says it will reach substantial completion next year.

"We would like to know what the financial impact is, we would also like to have the input as to the justification of building a publicly funded entity to compete against private industry," Durrill told KRIS 6 News. "We are putting the county on notice as to the justification for the construction of an amphitheater at the Borchard fairgrounds."

The settlement resolved a lawsuit in which it alleged errors or omissions in the issuing of certificates of obligations with the financing of the construction of the fairgrounds.
Durrillvnueces Signed Stlmt Agreement by Ryan Garza on Scribd

While the county denied the allegations, it agreed to the settlement.

Settlement terms included not proceeding with the construction of the Heritage Center Phase, which included an amphitheater, without conducting one or more public meetings.

Additionally, the settlement requires commissioners to conduct a study regarding the viability of building an amphitheater, Durrill said.

Among other terms of the settlement, the county was also required to utilize competitive bidding as it relates to phase two. If it elected to not utilize competitive bidding, it would have to seek an opinion from the attorney general.

At a recent commissioner's court meeting, Precinct 4 Commissioner Brent Chesney singled out the amphitheater as he brought up concerns about the debt obligation the county was taking on with the project.

"There is some concern that particular project was not an energy savings performance contract," Canales said. "Was not an energy savings performance project, but within the overall contract there are boilers and air handlers and roofs and pavers and this was an amenity. A needed amenity for a rural community. And I think that with $30 million-plus invested in the coast this past year and a half it’s important that the country get their fair share."

Durrill welcomed commissioners to question him regarding the viability of running an amphitheater during public comment Wednesday.

"If anybody would like to know what it's like to own and manage an amphitheater in Corpus Christi, Texas, privately without public funds I'm right here," Durrill said. "Are there any questions anybody would like to ask me about my personal opinion about the viability of an amphitheater in Robstown?"

Canales says rural areas deserve upgraded amenities and the court voted on the amphitheater a year ago.

"It’s important we have a variety of upgraded amenities so we can plan for revenue for our future," Canales said. "You can keep everything the same and therefore no change gives you no change, or you can decide to invest in your community."

Chesney says he had originally included language on the court agenda that would allow commissioners to take action regarding the amphitheater. That agenda language was changed, which prohibits the court from taking any action Wednesday upon the advice of the County Attorney.

"I’m very bothered by the fact that my agenda item, which I put very few on, somehow continue to get altered and changed," Chesney told commissioners. "So that I can’t have a discussion that’s very important today and make a motion because I want, as I’ve clearly articulated, I want to look at every option that we can to do something different and not do the amphitheater, but do a need, not a want, project."

Chesney made a motion to table the agenda item to Monday at 1:30 p.m., adding that the court agenda belongs to all commissioners.

"It’s extremely disturbing that no one gave me the opportunity to cure what they thought was some wording that, I don’t know why in the world if the county attorney approves it that staff and the judge in your review, why in the world you get to overrule the county attorney and me on my stuff without coming to me?" Chesney said.