Council to televise meetings
In one of their first televised council meetings on Tuesday evening, the Lockhart City Council approached the issue of recycling centers in Lockhart.
Last month, the City of Lockhart acquired the technology that would allow for city council meetings to be broadcast live on the city”s cable access channel, Time Warner Cable Channel 10.
According to City Secretary
Connie Ortiz, the system is working well, and staff is “ironing out the last few kinks.”
“We hope that before too long, we”ll be able to put the meetings in our schedule and rebroadcast them at certain times throughout the week,” she said. “We can”t do that at this point, so now they”re only on live during the meeting, but we”re working toward being able to replay them soon.”
During the meeting, City Planner Dan Gibson approached the council to discuss restrictions for dedicated parking lots and garages and recycling centers within the city limits.
“Right now, if someone wants to use a property [in certain commercial or industrial districts], I can”t let them, because we don”t have anything in the code of ordinances that discusses those kinds of businesses.”
The discussion was born of a request from a local business owner who hopes to expand his existing business to recycling and disposal of junked vehicles.
“We pick up the vehicles and we either fix them or sell them out for wholesale,” said Glen Caravalho, the requesting businessman. “I”ve been working out of that property for more than 20 years. Now, I want to start a recycling center, both to help the community and to supplement the city”s recycling.”
Some councilmembers suggested the nature of Caravalho”s business had brought complaints from the community over the years, but Caravalho claimed he had not been approached by the city with those complaints.
Gibson presented an ordinance to the council with stricter requirements than had originally been suggested by the Planning and Zoning Commission when the issue came to them in their last meeting.
“I went to them for initial recommendations and now I want to follow up with the amendments,” he said. ” I don”t think that it will be a problem with the Commission if you [the council] adopt an amendment that”s more restrictive than they originally suggested.”
After a great deal of discussion, the council opted to table the ordinance, suggesting that some of the language and procedures could be simplified.
In other council business:
Chief of Police Mike Lummus informed the council that he is reviewing some of the city”s traffic enforcement policies and hopes to make revisions in the near future.
The issues Lummus discussed on Tuesday stemmed from concerns over the use of motorcycles for traffic enforcement during the evening hours and after dark.
“The major concern about the use of the motorcycles is that they can “outrun their headlights” if they are involved in a nighttime pursuit,” Lummus said. “If they are at a dead stop and have to give chase on a vehicle going 50 mph, they”ll have to go upwards of 70 mph before they can overtake the other vehicle.”
Lummus reminded the council that motorcycles traveling at high rates of speeds are more likely to be involved in crashes than cars for a number of reasons, including rocks, animals or debris in the road.”
“If they”re outrunning their headlights, they are in serious danger,” he said.
Currently, Lummus is working on a traffic enforcement program that will take the motorcycles off the streets after dark. Though they will not work in an enforcement capacity, the motorcycles will still be available for traffic control and other such duties.
“I think that this will bring us more in line with the policies of departments in other cities,” Lummus assured the council.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently informed city officials that construction on an overpass on Highway 183 over the Union Pacific Railroad track might not begin until July 2008.
“The railroad has some changes they need to make and they haven”t committed to doing that yet,” said Assistant City Manager Vance Rodgers, who has been TxDOT”s point of contact in the city since the project was introduced. “[Union Pacific] has heard from Represenative Rose and Congressman Doggett, but they do these things on their own time frame.”
The council asked Rodgers to prepare a resolution to be presented to both TxDOT and Union Pacific, stating that Lockhart”s safety issues make the overpass a requirement and that the time frame proposed is not acceptable.
Rodgers warned, however, that there are still issues the city needs to address before construction can begin.
“There”s a 12-inch water main that runs in front of the cemetery, and we haven”t decided how to handle that yet,” he said. Additionally, right-of-way for the construction project has to be acquired.
TxDOT originally asked the City of Lockhart to contribute $79,000 toward right-of-way acquisition and relocation of utilities for the project. The city appealed the figure, and eventually had the contribution lowered to $10,560.
The council recognized several members and former-members of the Lockhart Police Department for their participation in the Junior Police Academy program at the Lockhart High School Freshman Campus.
The program, organized under School Resource Officer Steve Kenney, has served students for several years, but may be discontinued next school year. According to Kenney, budget constraints within the school district have forced the Freshman Campus to consider cutting the School Resource Officer position.
Others recognized for their work with the program were: Detective James Beck (retired), Lt. Charles Bethel (retired), Capt. Duane Dalrymple (retired), Detective Brent Lowe and assistant instructor Amanda Smith.