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Lockhart parklet’s meter expires

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From staff reports

The Lockhart City Council voted at a special meeting to bid adieu to the temporary outdoor seating structure located at the corner of Main and San Antonio Streets.
Since spring, the structure known as the parklet has provided visitors to the downtown area with an additional space to eat outdoors while minimizing risk of being infected with COVID-19.
Following two temporary extensions past its originally intended three-month lifespan, Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez made the motion to terminate the parklet in lieu of approving a proposed ordinance that would set rules and restrictions for operating parklets in Lockhart.
Sanchez and others on the council who voted in favor of terminating the parklet cited future concerns about it conflicting with the future downtown revitalization project, which will include extensive changes to water, utilities, parking and stormwater systems and ongoing associated construction
“I think this has been a wonderful idea, and I appreciate that this concept came through when we didn’t know what this pandemic was going to mean to us, and to our businesses,” Gonzales-Sanchez said. “Lockhart is growing. My concern is that I don’t know how these parklets are going to work with our plans to revitalize downtown.”
The vote passed 4-3. Mayor Lew White, Sanchez, Derrick David Bryant and Jeffry Michelson voted to terminate the parklet’s permit.
“I struggle with this because we’ve got to draw line somewhere on the use of public right of way,” White said before the vote. “We’ve allowed it to spill out onto the sidewalks with the sidewalk tables. I want to be supportive of businesses in town, but the parklet has a lot more negative connotations than positive as far as trying to enforce, design and who is eligible. I’m not in favor of continuing it at this time.”
Brad Westmoreland, Juan Mendoza and Kara McGregor voted against the motion.
McGregor cited the length of time between now and the expected start date for the revitalization project as one reason parklets could be allowed to continue with an ordinance in place. Earlier in the meeting, City Manager Steve Lewis said a second public input meeting about the project would take place in January and that the project could begin 12-15 months after that.
“I’ll say that I do think we should disallow them on 142 for a lot of reasons,” McGregor said. “I have less discomfort than the mayor pro tem with how it conflicts with the revitalization process.
“It’s a long tail on that dog. (Revitalization) is not happening tomorrow or next year, so the way this (proposed) ordinance is written, it gives us plenty of latitude to have them removed for impediments, repairs or any other reason. It’s expensive to buildi something like this with integrity and it’s a big risk, so I don’t think we’ll have a ton of applications.”
Parklet owner Alexandra Worthington, who also owns Little Trouble, listed the portable structure for sale shortly after the council’s decision.
Worthington spoke at the meeting in a last-ditch effort to keep the parklet. She said it would not conflict with the downtown revitalization project if it were allowed to continue until then. She said the parklet had been a big help to Little Trouble during the pandemic and had been enjoyed and utilized by the community.
“I am covered with insurance, and there is nothing that could happen in that parklet that wouldn’t be covered,” she said. “It was built to ADA standards and anyone is welcome there. It is safe.
“It is totally portable and it can be moved when project starts — that’s not a problem.”

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