Downtown Revitalization plans narrowing options￼
By Kyle Mooty
If you’re scoring, there will be fewer — or perhaps more — parking spaces, some angled spaces will become parallel parking, four-way stop signs will be added, two-way streets could become a one-way street, median trees will be removed, and a proposed plaza area will likely be scratched as an afterthought.
The Council chose to go with Option 1B without including a plaza concept or removal of median trees.
Three options presented from the Downtown Revitalization Final Conceptual Design Report courtesy TRC Engineers and Rialto Studio.
Mayor Lew White is hoping the decision will enter the bottom of the ninth at the June 7 meeting of the City Council.
There were three designs – 1, 1A, and 1B, the council and the public narrowed the choices to 1A and 1B following feedback to TRC Engineers and Rialto Studio.
The plaza concept, which would have jetted out from the sidewalk on the north side of San Antonio Street across from the Caldwell County Courthouse, has pretty much been eliminated as a possibility due to its cost and parking elimination. Of the 161 respondents to an online survey of the Downtown Revitalization group, 53 percent preferred Option 1,
Kylie Mycock of Rialto Studios said there were streetscape concepts.
“With 1, the appeal of this concept is it preserves the character of the square, but also includes some upgrades to include pedestrian safety, walkability, and traffic flows,” Mycock said. “There is two-way traffic throughout the nine-block area with four-way stops and each intersection. The four-way stops would slow down traffic and solve some of the visibility issues that currently exist. We have angled parking all around the courthouse with a combination of angled and parallel parking on the surrounding streets. The reason for the combination is on some of the streets there is not enough room with angled parking on each side of the street.
For example, on East Market Street currently, two big trucks would have to take turns passing each other. With this concept we estimate to lose about 12 parking spaces. It would allow business owners to spill out onto the sidewalks in front of their shops.
“The reason we did 1A is because we received so much feedback and made a note that they prefer we preserve the median trees on Market Street. So, the only difference with 1A is within that one block on Market Street. It would include a landing for people crossing the street midway, thus improving pedestrian safety. We estimate to lose about 15 parking spaces.”
Mycock then explained Option 1B.
“1B is a hybrid of 1A, a one-way concept from feedback we received. Main Street would become one-way to the north and Commerce Street one-way to the south. It would create 17 additional parking spaces.”
Commissioner Jeffry Michelson questioned the parking space additions saying the math didn’t add up.
“It’s hard to sit here tonight and know how many spots we’re going to have or not have because we don’t know” Michelson said. “That’s my concern.”
Bobby Eicholz of Rialto Studios discussed what a plaza would look like, but after hearing its cost – more than a quarter-million dollars — and that it would lose 13 parking spaces, that idea was all but shot down.
Multiple councilmembers said they wer e disappointed that only 161 people bothered to answer the survey.
“We have 15,000 people in Lockhart and we had 160 people do this survey and this is our largest project we are about to do in I don’t know how long,” Michelson said.
Ron Faulstich of Printing Solutions addressed the council.
“The four-way stop signs, new lighting and crosswalks are a nice addition for safety,” Faulstich said. “I like the new one-way directions on Main Street and Commerce Street. I know we want tourism, but you can’t have tourism if you can’t park down there. Please consider Plan 1B without the plaza.”
Faulstich’s son, Travis, also said he was concerned with the possibility of losing parking spaces near his business.
“Throughout the day we see 50 to 100 people,” Travis Faulstich said. “1B is a better option without the plaza.”
Parind Vora, owner of Lockhart Bistro, said he would have preferred a survey of the businesses around the square because they will be the ones most affected.
“I don’t want to turn the plaza thing into a refuge for the homeless,” Vora said. “That is a possibility and a probability.”
Donna Daniels, was among those speaking, and she liked Plan 1A.
“It’s very pedestrian friendly,” Daniels said. “The city will benefit from a pedestrian -friendly downtown.”
Will Wachel of TRC Engineers said when whichever plan is approved, the design would take up to 12 months to complete. If approved by the council on June 7, bidding would begin in 2023 from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1, and the phased construction Dec. 1, 2023 to Dec. 1, 2025.
Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez said she would like to hear more comments from businesses around the square before she made a decision.
Councilmember Kara McGregor added, “I don’t feel like I can make a decision today without a more accurate assessment.”
White said it seemed everyone was in favor of removing the plaza concept.
“From my practical standpoint, we’ve had two public hearings and I’ve had it on our city’s website,” he said. “It’s just not practical time-wise to go around and survey every business on the square. It is going to affect your business, so we need your input. I’ve heard criticism here and I don’t think it’s warranted.
“We want to have as little impact on parking as possible. I would like for us to come back and narrow this down and move forward with this project.”
In other business:
The Mayor and City Council went into executive session to seek legal advice regarding the proposed new redistricting plans for the city’s voting districts.
“There has been considerable discussion that was all over the place,” White said.
Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez requested that the item be tabled. White said there would be a vote on the redistricting plan at the May 17 meeting.
Pam Larison, Director of Finance for the City, gave the midyear report. The revenue is up 13.4% over the 2021 collections.
“I believe this has a lot to do with growth,” Larison said.
City Human Resources Director Julie Bowermon noted that the Texas Monthly BBQ World’s Fair, which had been in Austin since 2009, but moved to Lockhart for 2022 so it could become a two-day event (Nov. 5-6), will be in downtown Lockhart on Saturday and at the City Park on Sunday. Bowerman said the event was requesting a sponsorship donation to the festival.
Texas Monthly representatives spoke to the council.
Councilmember Brad Westmoreland said, “This is a shot in the arm. We should take advantage of it.”
The Council voted unanimously in favor of the sponsorship contribution.
Texas Monthly is also seeking to have a possible Beer Hall for sales and consumption of alcohol at locations on W. Market St. and S. Commerce St. That too, passed unanimously.
Plans for an apartment complex on Blackjack Road with 19 townhomes was approved 7–0.
Councilmember Kara McGregor noted that she was especially looking forward to the upcoming (May 20) Courthouse Nights with Lockhart’s own James McMurtry performing. McGregor called McMurtry a “world-class musician.”
White said he was “really excited” about the addition of the CARTS Now program.