Council considers price of progress
By Miranda Rogers
The US 183 expansion, an already expensive project, has a rocky road ahead, as the council tries to figure out what will be done with above ground utilities. All of the utilities must fit in a certain amount of space without overlapping onto the State’s property, which will not allow the utilities under
Preliminary cost estimate scenarios for relocation or adjustment of the current above-ground utilities for the project include moving the poles for the project to accommodate construction, moving and eliminating as many as feasible overhead wire crossings, and placing all overhead lines underground as possible.
In addition to the preliminary funds needed for these scenarios, which will have to be borrowed from the State Infrastructure Bank or other sources, the burden will have to be shared by citizens of Lockhart.
Although the council, split about the decision on Tuesday evening, will make a final vote in April when Councilmember Dick Wieland can be present, the panel engaged in back-and-forth discussion about the costs, not only to the city, but to its residents.
To fund the project, utility customers with residential property may see increases from $25-30 a month, where businesses could mark a $100- 200 increase.
In addition, both AT & T and Time Warner Cable suggested their customers would see increases, because moving utilities underground will take AT & T nearly two years and cost upwards of $1 million, and Time Warner expects to spend $40,000 per mile, plus $40,000 on labor for the move.
At Large Councilmember Paul Gomez told his colleagues he did not want to subject the citizens of Lockhart to the high payment of a projected $12 million, while Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez and Councilmember John Castillo both said they believed the project was an opportunity and investment to enhance and promote the city.
The US 183 Expansion Project was not the only issue to ignite heat between city council members on Tuesday.
City Manager Rodgers suggested eliminating water, sewer and road impact fees, along with building permit fees for the construction of new single family homes for a period of six months, in an effort to motivate people to build homes in Lockhart.
The fees be waived could total almost $5,000, but would exclude the waivers on properties where it is necessary to extend utilities.
Although the Impact Fee Committee requested to keep the fees as they were and blamed the banks and industries from keeping the builders from coming in, Gomez asserted many of those banks disqualified loans due to the impact fees.
Mayor Lew White agreed that he would like to be bold and give the plan a try, but Councilmember Richard Banks accused White of going against the suggestion of a committee that the council had appointed for that purpose.
White challenged Banks with bringing forth a different proposal to attract new home construction, and after heated discussion on all sides, the proposal eventually failed, 4-2.
In other business, the Council considered a Hotel Feasibility Study, driven in part by the projected development along State Highway 130 and in the “Texas Triangle.”
The study provides hotel-by-hotel data covering 98 percent of all hotels and project revenue performance of any hotel with a high level of accurate prediction.
The Feasibility study examined how hotel size, age and brand affect performance.
With all of the factors taken into consideration, it is likely that Lockhart can “handle” two more hotels, and may need them with the projected growth and the opportunity that both SH-130 and the F1 racing track will bring to the area.
The Council also discussed the upcoming renovation and restoration project at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex.
The city has considered processes ranging from the “straight bid” to the “one-step Request for Proposals for a Construction Manager-at-Risk.”
The Manager-at-Risk process allows for better cost controls and prepares bid packages, estimates, overall project schedule, periodic detailed updates, and establishes and maintains quality control standards while guaranteeing construction costs. The Manager-At-Risk also serves as the General Contractor.
The extensive renovation of the library, which includes relocation of computer areas to the second floor of the Masonic Building, transferring wire racks nd taking down walls, is expected to begin mid-April and be completed by next fall.
In brief news:
The Lockhart Economic Development Corporation brought a proposal to lease the facility at 215 E. MLK, Jr. Industrial Blvd. and the adjacent lot to Atlantic Coast Polymers, Inc. (ACP), which is expected to create at least five primary jobs for the development of a business enterprise. ACP is a private company with headquarters in Connecticut and recently expanded to Austin. The 10-year lease on the facility is expected to be $239,920.
Another 22 recreational vehicle sites will be added to the Lockhart State Park, and extending stays to 90-120 days. Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, Bluebonnet Electric Co-op, Caldwell County and Texas Parks and Wildlife will participate in the construction that will provide the financial revenues to assist in the support of the maintenance and upkeep of the park.
The Council read a proclamation declaring April “Autism Awareness Month,” and declaring April 2, 2012, as Autism Awareness Day. Area residents Judy Alonzo and her son, Noah, were on hand to receive the proclamation, and urged all citizens to celebrate the month by wearing blue, eating blue and turning their lights blue.
The decision assigning a City street name to the SH 130 frontage roads inside the city limits that was postponed at the last council meeting has come to a conclusion. In a 4-2 vote, the road will be name Cesar Chavez Parkway.
A proposal in the amount of $12,520 has been awarded to Action Root Services LLC for the erection of a new roof surface over the atrium portion of City Hall.
Repeat offenders who have received violations regarding high grass may soon be facing a graver consequence. Seeing that overrun lawns seem to be a chronic problem, council will be bringing the issue up in their April meeting to suggest involvement of the municipal court.
The Sustainable Places Project Stakeholders Committee have been approved for a grant for planning and designing services in a designated “demonstration site.” Council has chosen the nominees, who will be available for evening meetings once or twice a month for about one year.
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 televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.