Letters – Reader challenges development
To the Editor:
I read with great interest the items in last week”s Post Register on the Dale Jail meeting in Lytton Springs: the front page story, the Billy Hanks letter-to-the-editor, and the Ms. Bliss editorial.
My wife and I attended the meeting, and I must say that we have quite a different perspective than Mr. Hanks and Ms. Bliss. We saw a very large crowd
that was justifiably hostile to the jail proposal. The meeting could have been better controlled by the organizers, but the crowd was not at fault. I am PROUD to be a part of a group that is so demonstratively protective of the quality of life of northeast Caldwell County.
I am certainly pleased that this project has apparently been derailed by public opinion. This episode does raise questions in my mind about previous lack of public scrutiny:
1) The Lytton meeting seemed to have no publicity. I heard of it only via “the grapevine”. Was it announced in the Post-Register? If so, I failed to find it in paper that arrived at my house on the Thursday of the meeting. Even so, the attendance apparently went far beyond expectations; we need a venue at least thrice the size of the one used.
2) How did the Lockhart jail come into being? It puts out a really objectionable amount of light pollution; the single most obvious source of light pollution in Dale, about 10 miles distant, is the Lockhart jail. My guess is that the Lockhart jail is lightening night skies for a radius of 15-20 miles; that would be somewhere around 1,000 square miles. When the jail was in the planning stage, no one came to me and asked my permission to damage my beautiful dark sky. If there were well-publicized opportunities for the public to learn the negatives and suggest alternative back then, I was not aware of them. These types of projects need much more public attention than they have received in the past. Surely the Post-Register is eager to present both sides of public issues and to encourage the public to discuss and express their views. Had there been no public outcry at the Lytton meeting, a poor choice seemed likely to occur in this case.
3) It is rumored that Lockhart turned down the new jail. I have seen nothing in the newspaper on that. So, in my view, it remains a rumor and not reported fact. It seems to me that an ideal site for a new jail would be next to the already polluting current jail. The Emerald spokesperson said they had approached Lockhart as a jail site but gave no details why that option was not followed. I can only presume for reasons negative to Emerald. A public informed by a non-biased party such as a balanced newspaper will surely be better equipped to decide its future.
4) From Ms. Bliss” editorial, it seems that the Post-Register is pro-development. Any development at any cost of quality of life. I presume that the Post-Register wishes to see Lockhart and Caldwell County to look more like Bastrop, San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda? Big box stores and traffic congestion. “Development” is certainly coming. I feel that the more we slow it, the better off we will be. Already, Lockhart is beginning to suffer from traffic congestion and big box store pollution. Making wise choices in the kinds of developments that occur is the best way to improve quality of life in our county. Or, maintain it. Or, at least, slow its decline.
5) The role and risks of County involvement in the Emerald project have certainly been under-reported. Apparently, some attendees at the Lytton meeting had done research on similar and failed projects. Sadly, those people went largely un-heard at the meeting and I have seen no newspaper reporting of those projects.
6) The idea of public (governmental) participation in private projects is abhorrent to me. Do I understand that the City of Lockhart gave a subsidy to Walgreen”s to encourage them to compete with our homegrown Westy”s? How long has Westy”s been paying local taxes in order to fund a Walgreen”s giveaway? Without county zoning, Emerald is free to buy land and put up a jail, but they seek public funding. The justification for public funding and associated risks has not been well reported.
I would very much appreciate being able to read more on the above topics in the newspaper.