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Nueces County to renegotiate energy savings contract

The Nueces County Courthouse
Posted at 12:43 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 14:19:03-04

ROBSTOWN, Texas — Nueces County commissioners have begun the process of removing an amphitheater planned for the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown from a $30 million energy savings contract that was awarded to ABM last year.

The motion, made by Precinct 4 Commissioner Brent Chesney, asks the County Attorney to engage ABM in discussions to remove the amphitheater from the current contract and, or substitute it with a comparable energy savings project.

The motion also stops all work on the amphitheater until the issue is resolved.

You can watch video of Tuesday's meeting here.

Chesney said that ABM had indicated that there were potential substitutions and he was appreciative of the company's willingness to work with the county.

He added that in addition to the amphitheater being a "want" and not a "need" the facility would cost the county money, which is why he could not support it.

"I don't believe this is a project that will do anything but potentially lose additional revenues in the fairgrounds," Chesney said. "I've talked to people who run amphitheaters, it's a very difficult way to make money, it's a very limited revenue producing thing and I think it's just going to potentially put additional financial drain."

County Judge Barbara Canales says that the majority of the $30 million contract is being utilized on items that will provide energy savings to the county and that by statute the county could build the amphitheater.

The cost for the amphitheater is $1.9 million. Each year, the county has a $1.5 million payment, so the amphitheater represents approximately $145,000, Canales said.

Even if it were never rented out, she says Spectra, the company that manages the fairgrounds, has indicated the facility would conservatively bring in $75,000 a year in sponsorship.

Last week, the owner of Concrete Street Amphitheater Bill Durrill told commissioners the building of an amphitheater violated a settlement agreement from 2007.

Precinct 3 Commisoner John Marez said the differences between what was proposed 15 years ago and now are vastly different.

He said the amphitheater proposed 15 years ago was a 20,000- to 30,000-seat amphitheater and the current one will be below the 1,000- or 500-seat mark. He also argues that maintenance will not be costly.

"It would not be costly maintenance-wise because it's just outdoor," Marez said. "It's going to be basically a concrete pit with some amenities. But it's just going to be kind of a tiered setup that they would have there in one little corner of the acres and open acres that they have there at the fairgrounds."

After the County Attorney has met with ABM, she will bring any resolution back to commissioners.