By Miranda Rogers
Economic development in Lockhart was a hot topic during the regular meeting of the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday evening.
Last fall, the council requested a presentation on the economic development status in Lockhart. After the completion of the 2011 year-end report in January, Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin and City Manager Vance Rodgers were prepared to address statistics for the year and discuss goals for improving economic development.
While there has been an increase in jobs and expansions since 2010, Lockhart would like to see even more business come in, following in the steps of Wal-mart and Walgreens.
A strategy to do this, Mauldin suggested, is to increase downtown revitalization with events, brochures and promotions. The proceeds from events would fund new banners in the historic central business district, tours and general beautification.
City staff reported they would also like to see an increase in affordable housing and recruit higher education possibilities, such as small college campuses.
Rodgers noted the City needs to make sure reasonably priced land and buildings are available, because many of the companies that might be interested in coming to Lockhart seldom want to bother with construction.
One main concern about the lack of growth in Lockhart is its apparent secrecy.
While Lockhart events have been published in popular magazines such as Southern Living and Texas Monthly, out-of-county newspapers like the Austin American-Statesman often does not publish news about the city because “it’s too far out of their circle, even though we are the same distance as some of the cities they advertise in their Metro section.”
Mauldin said Lockhart has an advantage now, with the new highway that will bring people in from all of the large cities surrounding Lockhart.
For now, she said, they will tackle economic development by bringing outside money into community with job creation, job retention and expansion, tax base investments and overall quality of life.
In other news, with the heat showing signs of a cruel summer, Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) specialist Lexi Maxwell and Texas Forest Services made a special trip to present an overview of the Caldwell County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
Maxwell informed the council about the trends in weather cycles throughout the years, and the dangers that cause wildfires.
She said that while wildfires are a naturally occurring part of the ecosystem (aptly nicknamed “Mother Nature’s lawn mower”), 93 percent of wildland fires in Texas are caused by humans, due to fuel buildup and additional homes.
She said since 2005, 4.2 million acres have been burned.
Texas Forest Services seek support in their endeavor to spread the information and cut losses by reducing risks. They asked the council for a list of what the City would like to see done to address fire hazards to be submitted by March 14.
In brief news:
The Council considered selling a lot in the Lockhart Industrial Park II to the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). The lot, which is adjacent to an existing property owned by LEDC, will be used to develop easier access to the east side of the existing building at 215 E. MLK, Jr., Blvd.
The property is intended as an “economic development project” for job creation and investment in the community.
They accepted a bid from DDM, LLC, of Brenham, Texas, in the amount of $95,801.97 to purchase and erect two new metal buildings for the new Animal Shelter. The addition will be approximately 300,000 square feet, and should take 90 days, start to finish, with a projected completion date in mid-June.
The main concern is to establish the canine quarters first, since part of the dog runs have been dismantled and capacity will be diminished during construction. DDM, LLC has had successful work before in Lockhart, and their price will include warranty, general liability and workers’ compensation.
City Council accepted exterior aesthetic design standards for the Lockhart Industrial Park from the city staff, which were loosely adapted from other successful cities such as Leander, Pflugerville and Belton. Council felt that the simplified standards were user-friendly, and recommended Planning and Zoning to develop general aesthetic standards for industrial development citywide.
Also, they slated discussion to assign a street name to the portion of SH-130 inside the city limits to take place during the next council meeting. After a request for more time to make the decision, a motion to name the street Cesar Chavez “died for lack of second.”
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and are broadcast on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.