Thursday, December 18, 2014

Community Cat Ordinance Neutered

San Angelo's Animal Services Advisory Committee needed but a few wording changes in its proposed policy on Community-Free Roaming Cats for the group to vote.  The committee specified the language in their November meeting with a city attorney present.  Staff failed to implement the committee's directive, thus no ordinance was available for the Committee to consider (despite this item being on the agenda).   The neuter definition that applies here is: "To render ineffective or powerless."   

What will the New Year bring?  Hopefully not more of the foot dragging, heel digging, obstinacy community animal groups have experienced for years from animal services.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nasworthy Development to Progress on Two Fronts

The City of San Angelo is moving forward with developing two areas around Lake Nasworthy.  The Standard Times reported:

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted Thursday to recommend that the council give city staff the go-ahead to start seeking bids for concepts on the development.

The development was recommended in the Gateway Planning Group’s Lake Nasworthy master development plan, which the council adopted in late 2013. The plan recommends a hotel, restaurant or entertainment venue for the 19½ acres at Mary E. Lee Park to enhance public access and minimize environmental impact.

Earlier this year the city issued a request for proposal for development of surplus land near the old WTU power plant.

The City of San Angelo is soliciting proposals for the development of certain vacant land consisting of two (2) tracts located in the southwestern portion of the City of San Angelo, known as Railroad Right of Way, near the Old WTU Power Plant. The subject parcels are located near Red Bluff Road and Hillside Road. The City of San Angelo is interested in selling the surface estate only of the described parcels of land , to an entity with experience in mixed-use development.

City Council will entertain the sale of said land to Psalm 100 Development LLC during Tuesday's council meeting.  Russell Gully is listed as Psalm 100's registered agent.  Gully is the owner of SKG Engineering, which has done several projects for the city, including the new pedestrian access improvement project.

WTU surplus land bid documents revealed:
Each firm will be expected to supply a reasonable and probable use that supports the highest present value of vacant land; taking account the contribution of the specific use to the community and act in accordance with the 2013 Lake Nasworthy Master Plan and Implementation Strategy.
The selection committee was specified in the RFP:
The selection committee will consist of representatives from several City departments that are currently involved with the development process in the subject area. 

It will be interesting to hear how public access will be enhanced, learn specific uses to the community and understand how the city determined the highest present value for development.  Oddly, purchase price garnered a mere 15% weighting.  For a new landfill cell it was 75%.

Psalm 100 Development LLC registered with the State of Texas on August 21, 2013.  That makes the company just over a year old.

In another interesting twist Russell Gully sits on the City's Water Advisory Board and is in his third term. Also, a Gully (no first name) leases 2.6 acres of land around Lake Nasworthy for $392 a year.     

It remains to be seen if Nasworthy development mirrors Lake Jackson's elimination of Dow Park, once a hugely popular place for runners, cyclists and walkers.  The public park was eliminated for development of high dollar real estate lots.  

I look forward to hearing Executive Director of Public Works Ricky Dickson's presentation.  I trust it will clarify the nature of Mr. Gully's role with Psalm 100 Development LLC. 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

City Council Special Meeting 12-9

San Angelo's City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday, December 9th.  The agenda states:

To deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property (Spur Parking Garage, east of 40 W. Twohig Ave., San Angelo)

A commercial real estate listing for the sale of the Spur Building states:

Very Charming Office Building in central downtown San Angelo. Must see pictures and visit to greatly appreciate the value and characteristics of this one of a kind investment opportunity. Completely refurbished in 1984. A new elevator was installed within the last 4 years. Parking garage attached and accessible to the building owned and maintained by the City of San Angelo.

Councilman Rodney Fleming said he'd close the parking garage in a recent council meeting rather than pay city funds for renovation or refurbishment.  The City estimated the project could be completed for $1.8 million, however that would rise to $2.95 million if phased.

What's not clear is the city's legal obligation to provide and maintain the parking garage for Spur Building tenants.  That will be interesting to learn.

Update 12-8-14:  The Standard Times ran a piece on this topic.

Update 12-10-14:  The city will lease the parking garage to The Spur Group LLC.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rep. Mike Conaway: House Ethics Nontraining

Houston Harte once said the newspaper business is not for the chicken-hearted.  I believe he also found a way to make any story local.  This graphic is in his honor.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Frac Sand Train Derailed Five Days Before Pfluger Hearing

San Angelo Live reported:

A train pulling 100 cars of frac sand derailed at 1 a.m. this morning near Ballinger. According to Texas-Pacifico spokeswoman Elizabeth Grindstaff, the train was destined for Big Lake when it derailed near milepost 20 east of Talpa.  The event resulted in the damage of 15 of the 100 cars loaded with frac sand.

The accident occurred five days before the City of San Angelo's Zoning Board of Adjustments will take up a challenge to the automatic approval of Lee Pfluger's sand offloading facility.  Petitioners Jesse Martinez, Mark Thieman, Dennis Grafa, Chris Cornell and Winkie Wardlaw assert Planning Director Patrick Howard erred in deciding that a silica frac sand operation is permitted in a Light Manufacturing Zoning District.

Texas Pacifico is in the midst of replacing track throughout San Angelo, installing heavier rail to handle higher volumes of oil field products.

How might a recent frac sand derailment impact the Zoning Board's deliberations?   After City Councilwoman and Texas Pacifico spokeswoman Elizabeth Grindstaff refused to answer "operations" questions, City Council had to rely on a retired railroad worker to challenge regarding Lee Pfluger's representations.  Let's hope Texas Pacifico has the right person in attendance this time to answer questions

Sunday, November 23, 2014

City to Consider Endorsement

San Angelo City Council discussed an insurance product for water and sewer lines.  Council reconsidered endorsing the product for purchase by area citizens, having done so in 2012 with no action taken.  City Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff asked that the item return to council's agenda.  She supports service line warranty products on the belief pricing could be more affordable for citizens.

Mayor Morrison opposed the concept, citing citizen's freedom to buy such products now and saying it's inappropriate for Council to endorse banks, car dealerships, grocery stores, and realtors.  Citizen Jim Turner said "I don't think the city should be giving an exclusive endorsement to any business doing any service like this any more than they should be giving an exclusive endorsement to Stripes or Allsup's as a convenience store"

Six of the seven council members wanted to learn more about such products, including how much revenue could become available to the city and how the city can support low income citizens with water or sewer line breaks who don't buy the insurance product.  The role of the city may change fundamentally should it choose to lend its name to various product or service offerings.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

RailPort Won't Compete with Texas Pacifico

San Angelo Chamber of Commerce Vice President Michael Looney reported on the City's efforts to recruit a national railport company to the area.  Looney recognized City Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff for steering the Chamber to two suitable tracts of land.  Looney shared the railport operator does not want to be a short hauler, but wishes to operate a switching station with alot of tenants on the ground (a giant one at that).  They would not want to move in on any of Texas Pacifico's territory. 

Looney went out of his way to say the prospective railport would not compete with City Councilwoman Grindstaff's employer.  I found this interesting in light of the discussion the next day at the Development Corporation Board meeting.  They discussed conflicts of interest and how it would be inappropriate for a Board member to keep out competition for a venture in which they had an interest.  

To date there have been no packages presented or votes taken.  As this project moves forward it will be interesting to see if the city funds or subsidizes the railport in any way.  Should that occur citizens deserve information to ensure things are proceeding on an ethical track.