COMMENT OF THE DAY: LET THE COLLEGE STATION LAND RUSH BEGIN! “The station in Roans Prairie is a developer’s dream: high-speed rail, new I-14 interstate, and miles and miles of undeveloped land. The master-planned communities will start popping up in no time. Work in the city (Houston or Dallas) and live out in the country on your acreage homestead. Just wait, the Bryan-College Station-Huntsville MSA will see the fastest population growth in the entire nation for years and years to come.” [Thomas, commenting on Proposed High-Speed Rail Line’s Bryan—College Station Station Would Be 27 Miles East of Texas A&M] Map of proposed Brazos Valley Station: Federal Railroad Administration
BRYAN POLICE: PLEASE STOP DRIVING INTO FLOODWATER SO WE CAN WORK ON TORNADO PROBLEMS Dozens of roads are still closed this morning following yesterday’s heavy storms to the north and west. The National Weather Service reports that the nearly 17 inches of rain measured over 24 hours at its Brenham station would by itself beat the total for the 3rd-wettest month on station record (and fall less than an inch short of second place). Bryan-College Station’s The Eagle reported yesterday that the Bryan Police Department was urging drivers to stay off the roads, as first responders were getting tied up with sinking vehicle calls while also trying to respond to calls related to the tornado that touched down near Highway 6 and Briarcrest Dr. At least 50 houses were reported damaged and 3 destroyed; other possible tornado-related incidents reported in the area include damage to the Miramont Country Club and to the Wallace Pack Unit prison in Navasota. [National Weather Service, The Eagle] Map of road closures: TxDOT
AN ART CRITIC TOURS TEXAS A&M On a recent visit to College Station, Rice and UT Grad Rainey Knudson tries to get past Texas A&M’s fortress chic: “So yes: to this outsider anyway, the A&M campus feels unattractive, humorless and a little silly. They have more bronze statues than you can shake a stick at, there are overbearing messages of social conservatism everywhere, and if you’re interested in good art, you’re out of luck, at least in the public spaces. These people couldn’t paint bigger targets on themselves for ridicule if they tried, right? And yet: the president of the school famously leaves the door to his house on campus unlocked. Students and faculty will tell you not to lock your car, that you could leave a computer lying somewhere on campus and it would still be there when you get back. And it would. That’s the flip side to all the sanctimoniousness at A&M: there really is a palpable, profoundly likeable sense of honor at the place (and I’m not just saying that because it’s one of their six core values that’s repeated all over campus.)” [Glasstire] Photo: Rainey Knudson
OH MY GOD! THEY KILLED KYLE! Here’s a view from the front row yesterday morning as the west side of Kyle Field comes a’-tumbling down, to the cheers, hullabaloo, and whoops of a crowd police estimated at 7,000. The Aggies are eager for the final phase of the school’s ongoing stadium renovation project to come to completion. After hauling off the 75,000 tons of debris, and rebuilding, the Aggies plan to have Kyle Field reopened — with a capacity of 102,51, the largest stadium in Texas — by September 12, when Ball State University’s gridiron warriors invade College Station in new Kyle Field’s debut. [Bryan-College Station Eagle; previously on Swamplot] Video: Ton Wagner
WHICH A&M BUILDING HAS GOVERNOR PERRY’S NAME ON IT NOW? Two days of “deep reflection” after telling the Bryan-College Station Eagle that he would be honored to have Texas A&M’s iconic Academic Building renamed “The Rick Perry ’72 Building,” Governor Rick Perry decided to decline the proposal by the A&M Board of Regents before it ever came to a vote. “I have informed the board of regents of my decision to politely decline this honor,” Perry said at a graduation ceremony last night, hours after the vote was supposed to have taken place. “And I do so because there are places on this campus, like our most cherished traditions, that transcend any one individual. They are bigger than any one of us and they represent our shared heritage. I want the Academic Building to be called the Academic Building in 2114, 200 years after it was built.” Perry’s announcement came after 2 days of intense, mostly negative reaction to news of the proposal, including a resolution against the renaming from the student senate, a petition signed by 7,000 students in opposition to same, and an editorial in The Battalion, A&M’s campus paper, which reads, in part: “The absurdity of the idea goes well beyond the irony of putting Perry (and his well-documented sub-2.5 GPA) on A&M’s academic hub, which in 2014 celebrates its 100th birthday. The regents shouldn’t name the Academic Building after the governor. Not because he’s not qualified, but because no one is.” Which is not to say that some other campus edifice might not soon bear the Perry name, as the editorial acknowledges: “Perry might deserve campus recognition, but give him something — anything — other than the Academic Building.” [Bryan-College Station Eagle; The Battalion] Photo: Texas A&M
Meeting in special session in College Station on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will vote on a measure to rename the campus’s iconic, 100-year-old Academic Building the “Governor Rick Perry ’72 Building.”
Also on the agenda: a vote on a resolution to honor the recently-indicted Aggie alum’s “outstanding dedication and service” during his longest-ever stint as a Texas governor.
The potential Rick Perry ’72 Building was actually built in ’14, 2 years after Texas A&M’s Old Main building burned to the ground:
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Phase 2 of Texas A&M’s $450 million Kyle Field makeover will get underway in earnest in the early morning hours of December 21, after a season-long pause to slot in the Aggies’ 2014 home-field gridiron slate. That’s when Christmas will arrive early for demolition junkies, as the stadium’s multitiered west side will come down with a bang.
Some prep work has already begun, but the pace will quicken about two hours after the conclusion of the Aggies’ season finale on Thanksgiving Day against LSU. That’s when the whole stadium will once again become a construction zone, and only those with the proper credentials will be granted entry.
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Amid much local hullabaloo in Aggieland today, Houston’s Midway Cos. unveiled its plans for a new campus-adjacent mixed-use complex. By fall 2016, Midway hopes that Century Square will feature an outdoor concert space, a midrise office building and conference center, an apartment building, shopping and dining outlets, and, at least judging from the site plan below, ample space for a pad site or six along busy University Dr. Not one but 2 new boutique hotels are also slated to go up at the corner of College Ave. and University Dr. across the street from Texas A&M’s polo fields and Emerging Technologies Building and the local IHOP.
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WHAT A FIRED IRONWORKER LEFT BEHIND AT KYLE FIELD The ironworker fired from his job at the Kyle Field construction site after hoisting a University of Alabama flag from a crane at the Texas A&M football stadium has been subjected to an even greater indignity: After a photo of the stunt (at left) went viral, a crew of dead-serious investigators has been scouring the worker’s largely jokey Facebook page for possible additional anti-Aggie activity. And overnight, it appears, they hit paydirt. In context, Bobby Livingston’s offhand comment on his Facebook page from February 28th, under a self-portrait in an Alabama sweatshirt, that “This stadium will never be ready for this. Season,I’m putting iron in backwards and wrong holing everything!!”appears to be a joke among friends. It’s tougher to judge the circumstances surrounding a later Livingston post, however, because it appears now to have been deleted: According to College Station reporter Patrina Adger, he wrote on April 6, “If you ever attend a Texas A&M football game, don’t sit at the Northeast End Zone. It was raining today and I made two very ‘questionable’ welds.” The engineering firm in charge of inspections at Kyle Field, which is being expanded to seat more than a 100,000 fans, has issued a statement in response, assuring that all welds and connections have been tested, verified, and reviewed. [KBTX] Photo: Bobby Livingston
DISASTER CITY IN COLLEGE STATION: MODELED AFTER THE WORST Lisa Taddeo reports from a pancaked House of Pancakes, a couple of miles south of the Texas A&M campus: “You cannot think calmly when you’re staring into a rubble pile of bodies, half of them moving and half of them still. You have to have been there before. Suppressing panic during crisis takes practice, which is precisely why 150 people have gathered on this dusty 52-acre plot called Disaster City in College Station, Texas: to practice imposing order where normally there isn’t any. . . . Disaster City isn’t a city but a vast disaster-simulation center designed to look and feel as close to catastrophe as you ever want to be. Each hairline crack, each mangled car, all the mountains of rubble are modeled on wreckage from real disasters, like the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles that killed 72 people and injured nearly 12,000. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing inspired the collapsed parking garage, with cars dangling off the sides like spiders from a ceiling, while the 12-foot-deep rubble catacombs resemble those from Ground Zero. ‘It’s like a Jerry Bruckheimer set,’ says Brian Smith, Disaster City’s public information officer.” [Popular Science, via Planetizen]