By Miranda Rogers
After discovering that the City Council decided to name the frontage roads to SH-130 Cesar Chavez Parkway, citizens rallied to the meeting on Tuesday night to broadcast their opinions in front of the council. Most community members who came forward were against the street name, some of them misinterpreting Chavez as a communistic figure, the rest in favor of someone more closely related to Lockhart’s history.
It was speculated that the decision for the name had something to do with wanting a Hispanic influence; Linda Hinkle, in particular, said that if that was the case “how about Cisneros?”
She also pointed out that Chavez was an activist, who she said “basically committed suicide,” and questioned having that image connected with Lockhart.
Kathy McCormick announced that a petition has been started to repeal the ordinance and is currently circulating in town. She told the council that they missed a golden opportunity to lure people in off the highway.
After another citizen, Dave Moore, demanded public input the next time council made such an important decision, it was clear that, as McCormick put it, “We’re serious about this.”
Raymond DeLeon wrapped up the citizen comments on the subject by reminding all those present and paying attention that Lockhart annually hosts a Day of Celebration in honor of Chavez, who was a great civil rights leader and also a brother in the fight for equality with Dr. Martin Luther King.
“The city of Lockhart is a city with a vision, not a city with division,” DeLeon said, and said the community should not be divided over the naming of a street.
After the City Manager’s report, longtime Councilmember Paul Gomez denied the speculation that the name of the street was ever racially inclined, and was chosen due to the fact that Chavez changed and shaped lives. He agreed a committee should be appointed to take input from citizens and that a name should be chosen that the whole community was in agreement with.
Mayor Lew White said he was willing to reconsider the project if the reconsideration drew unanimous support from the council, but some councilmembers stood firm, suggesting the decision had been made and should not be revisited.
While White said does not want to see governance by petition, he said the council may have to go down that road.
In other business, the council engaged in a lengthy discussion about fees and fines for residents who neglect their yards and vacant lots.
The council has approved a $98 charge as an “administrative fee”, in addition to the regular fines attached to ordinance violations involving grass that has grown too high.
Under the current ordinance, grass and weeds standing taller than 12 inches high are subject to fines, up to and including a lien on the property if the city has to send a crew to mow.
Councilmember Richard Banks pushed for a harder approach to enforcement of the nuisance ordinance, stating he would rather see people prosecuted for these violations,
“[We] can be nice only so many times before a more strict approach is needed,” he said. He continued that he hoped to make a “horrible example” of, and send a message to property owners who keep “playing the system.”
Some property owners, it seems, find it more convenient to “pay the city to mow their lawns,” through the fines and fees. It is that attitude the council hopes to change by strengthening the fees.
In brief news:
The council voted to change a policy that requires certain public health and safety employees to live within 15 minutes of Lockhart.
With a lack of interest shown in available positions in public health and safety jobs, the requirement for certain employees to live within 15 minutes of the Lockhart City Limits has been changed to 25 minutes. This will still allow a reasonable response time, but will also provide greater latitude in the hiring of qualified employees for skilled positions.
Banks is opposed to making it easier to award jobs to people who don’t live in Lockhart, and said he feels City Manager Vance Rodgers is liberalizing the ordinance.
He suggested the reason people were not responding to job postings was because jobs were not being properly advertised (advertisements are posted in the newspaper, on the web site and in buildings). He suggested more use of Channel 10 and asked Rodgers to find “more aggressive ways” to advertise job openings.
A new forklift will be purchased for use at the City of Lockhart Recycling Center to help ensure that the Center stays open, efficient and available to Lockhart residents and Caldwell County residents. The forklift will cost $28,000, and is essential for operation to load bales and transport containers. The Center has had problems with their current forklift, which was already 10 years old when it was purchased, used, in 1997.
A new system required by Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) will be purchased to address electrical outages. About a year ago, Lockhart was having problems with “rolling brown outs,” and the system will help find the problem sooner and identify areas with more precision. The SCADA system will provide electronic control of the City’s breaker system at the substation, from which all power is distributed in the city. There will be a $100 monthly maintenance and inspection fee, and Bluebonnet Electric Co-op will work with the city of Lockhart to install it.
The Impact Fee Advisory Committee presented their semi-annual report concerning the status of implementation of Chapter 31 “Impact Fees” of the Lockhart Code of Ordinances with regard to water, wastewater and road. Total impact fee revenue during this six-month period was $12,019, and the total spent on projects was $127,676.
The committee recommends no changes to current land use assumptions, capital improvement plans or impact fees.
During Public Hearing, the zoning ordinance was amended to provide appearance and basic building standards for development in the industrial zoning districts.
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 televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.
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