River incident adds urgency to traffic control

River incident adds urgency to traffic control

By Kathi Bliss

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

An altercation nearly turned violent over the holiday weekend in Martindale, prompting the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court to reconsider their timeline for installation of traffic control devices on Meadow Lane and Spring River Drive in Martindale.

The established neighborhood has been at the center of a storm of development since the traditional river communities of San Marcos and New Braunfels have tightened restrictions on “tubing” in their area. More and more, individuals seeking water entertainment have been finding their way to the San Marcos River in the Martindale area, spurred on by the development of two tubing businesses. The traffic from those businesses, however, has to travel through the neighborhood to reach the riverbanks.

That traffic has caused concern for the community, where residents worry that possibly-intoxicated drivers are speeding near the homes where their children and pets play and their neighbors walk for exercise.

The tension boiled over this weekend, as one resident of the area shouted at a driver to “slow down!” and was, according to witnesses, attacked in his yard when the driver exited his vehicle and began an altercation.

Residents of the neighborhood brought the situation back to the Commissioners’ Court on Tuesday morning, begging for help.

“This is the most effective and immediate thing we can think of to protect our children and our property,” said Jeff Heller, a resident of the community who has been at the forefront of the push to have the speed cushions installed.

Other residents complained about a lack of law enforcement in the area, prompting Chief Deputy David Brent to remind the Court that the problem is not unique to the Martindale area.

“We have the same situation all the way down the river,” he said. “We [the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office] get the same complaint from Martindale all the way down to Luling, every place that people go to the river.”

On average, the Sheriff’s Department has two patrol deputies per shift to cover the entire county, including the riverbank areas.

Though the Commissioners were unable to take action on the concerns during Tuesday’s meeting, they did agree that it might be time to seriously consider installing the speed cushions, in an effort to help the neighborhood with their existing concerns. However, County Judge Tom Bonn raised another issue for consideration.

“It’s only going to take drivers one time to go over these speed cushions before they decide that they are going to go around them,” he said. “And that means that they’re going to try to drive in the bar ditches and possibly in your yards. I don’t want us to install the speed cushions if that means they’re going to wind up trying to go around them and maybe wind up in your living room.”

According to the County’s civil attorney Mack Harrison, it is required that a traffic study be completed before any impediment to travel, including speed cushions, can be installed.

Precinct Three Commissioner Neto Madrigal pressed his colleagues to give serious consideration to moving forward with the traffic study, and trying to provide some relief for the residents of the area. The measure is expected to come up at the next regular meeting of the Commissioners’ Court on June 11.

In other business, the Commissioners agreed for the first time in recent history, not to impose any sort of restrictions on fireworks for the coming Fourth of July season.

According to Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker, there is currently limited wildfire danger in Caldwell County, and hence no need to enact a burn ban.

Without a burn ban and emergency order in place, the Commissioners cannot impose a ban on aerial fireworks, as they have done in the past, and have therefore voted not to restrict fireworks at this time.

That measure, too, could be reconsidered during the next meeting, if there is a  substantial change in weather conditions.

In brief news:

Bonn asked the Commissioners to review and participate in a salary survey that will help determine the salary for the County Judge and the County Commissioners in the upcoming budget preparation process.

Commissioner John Cyrier and Madrigal brought forth their recommendations for donations to various non-profit organizations in Caldwell County. The Commissioners recommended donating in the coming budget cycle at the same level and in the same amounts as last year, a total of $10,000 in support of nearly a dozen charitable organizations.

They approved a change to the Caldwell County Development Ordinance addressing requirements for platting when property is acquired as an adjustment or change in boundaries.

They approved a contract with Floors Plus, of Lockhart, to replace the flooring at 510 Pierce St. in Luling, and they considered a written policy for the county’s fuel cards, in an effort to secure more accurate bookkeeping with regard to fuel usage and mileage.

The Court entered a proclamation recognizing June 19, 2012, as “War of 1812 Remembrance Day.”

The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the conference and training room at the LW Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St. (FM 20 E) in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

kathibliss@post-register.com