Representatives from the City Council of the City of Texarkana, Texas, and the Board of Directors of the City of Texarkana, Arkansas, met during the regularly scheduled Joint Texarkana Community Committee meeting on August 7, 2018, at 3:00 PM, at the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, 4808 Elizabeth Street, Texarkana, Texas, to listen to presentations regarding saving Texarkana, USA, local treasures.
Presenters included David Orr, Federal Courthouse Project; Tyler Richards, Federal Courthouse Project; Mary Beck, Opera House; Brian Goesl, Perot Theater; Velvet Hall Cool, Texarkana Museums System; Ina McDowell, Main Street Texarkana; and Andrew Clark with Texarkana Symphony Orchestra.
David Orr spoke on efforts led by the City of Texarkana, Texas to make improvements to the Federal Courthouse, including: planting trees that were donated from Wilbur Smith Rotary, enhance landscaping, improve accessibility by the use of crosswalks, improved parking, sidewalks, traffic flow, bike lanes, and more.
Orr and Tyler Richards also spoke on a project to improve Stateline, an effort matched by both sides of the line. TxDot and ArDot are donating approximately $10 million each to make major improvements to Stateline. The project is expected to be completed in 2020, in 3 phases.
Mary Beck, City Planner for City of Texarkana, Arkansas, spoke about preserving the Municipal Auditorium and how citizens can become preservation ambassadors for our local treasures, many of which need immediate attention.
Next, Brian Goesl, Executive Director of The Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Center, emphasized what a destination point the Perot has become, outpacing Photographers Island for the number 1 tourist destination in Texarkana, USA, according to Trip Advisor. Last year, TRAHC sold over 12,000 tickets to the public.
Velvet Hall Cool spoke emphatically and confidently about the significance of having the Ace of Clubs House and the 3 other properties owned by TMS. Cool informed the panel that the Offenhauser Building, now known as the Museum of Regional History building, is the oldest remaining brick structure in Texarkana.
Cool spoke on the need to plan and protect our local treasures, “ We have to identify our local treasures, establish a plan of action and implement that plan, and then we must review and assess our strengths and weaknesses.”
Ina McDowell, Main Street Executive Director, explained the organization’s role in preserving the history of the community while also contributing to economic development in the downtown area.
Main Street is investing efforts in the Flying Crow Dining Cart restaurant owned by David Peavy, the Regions Bank Building, the Annual Christmas Parade and Dine on the Line.
Last but not Least, Andrew Clark spoke on behalf of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. The organization is undergoing major changes as their previous conductor is no longer with the organization. The received over sixty applications, currently narrowed down to thirteen people. The had 4 apply from Europe, 1 from Japan, and some from South America and Canada.
Clark informed the council that once the selection process is narrowed down to 3-5 potential candidates, the nomination for the new conductor will be opened to the public for voting.
The council was receptive to the presentations made, acknowledging the need for continued efforts on both sides of the Stateline.