Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Planning Commission Approves Lake Nasworthy "Illegal Divisions"

The Wild West applies to more than one city operation as evidenced by a recent Planning Commission meeting.  City staff presented the need to replat four homes on Lake Nasworthy's Hillside Drive due to owners undertaking a number of projects and/or purchases.

SKG Engineering's Russell Gully said in public comment:

"We would ask for your approval with the variance as requested.  This is really cleaning up.  I guess some of the ... one of the property owners had bought two lots and did some improvements, moved some lines and then bought the neighbor.  They swapped a little bit of land and moved some stuff around, so this is really....I think one of them was going to put one of the houses up for sale so they were kind of like, you know what let's fix this, clean it up, get the lines, platted lines, where we've done some "illegal divisions" and correct that.  So really this is really just getting the platted lines in the correct locations.  I'll be happy to answer any questions and I guess Mr. Vannoy has done such a great job maybe we can see him every month going forward for awhile.  Thank you."

Oddly Mr. Vannoy made an excuse that this item came from another planner late in the process and wasn't sure what changes were being made in the replat to correct years of "illegal divisions."  He pointed to two property lines he thought were moved but could not say so with authority.

What's the duty of a contractor or engineering firm to inform residents of the need to go through the planning process for major changes in property within city limits?  

What's the penalty for residents who ignore city ordinances and add structures or move property lines without going through the required process?  

Staff previewed several upcoming items for the commission.  One included changes at another Lake Nasworthy development The Palms which has been developed by the Russell Gully's Psalm 100.  

Planning staff said it involved more cleanup.  I can't imagine there are illegal divisions from such a new development, especially one developed by someone with knowledge of city ordinances.  We will see.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

City's Asphalt Zipper Sits Idle

City Council's budget planning is aimed at high priority areas.  One of those is city streets.   Executive Director of Public Works Shane Kelton offered an internal road resurfacing crew to Council as an option in a 2022 budget session.

The City of San Angelo website states:

After decades of deferred maintenance, San Angelo’s streets earned a pavement condition index of 45.9 on a 100-point scale in a 2015 Fugro Roadware study.

That was seven years ago.   In December 2016 city management recommended Council approve the $1.2 million purchase of  a Benedetti machine to resurface streets.  That project failed miserably and the city returned the equipment to the manufacturer in January 2019.  

The city purchased an asphalt milling machine (asphalt zipper) in 2005.  It has 102 hours of use over 17 years.  That's six hours a year.  Most of that use came from loaning the asphalt zipper to the City of Fredericksburg in 2016.  

In preparation for the Milam Street Reconstruction Project that is scheduled to be completed this year, the Street Department will be making repairs to failed sections of Milam Street in advance of the project. The use of an asphalt milling machine would greatly expedite the City's repair process which would result in a reduction in construction time thus reducing the overall inconvenience to traffic and adjacent business and residential areas. City of San Angelo owns an asphalt milling machine (asphalt zipper) and has agreed verbally to let the City of Fredericksburg borrow this piece of equipment.

Fredericksburg put approximately 80 hours on the City's asphalt zipper saving over $100,000 on a street repair project.  That means San Angelo used the equipment a mere 22 hours since 2005 or an average 1.3 hours each year.

Decades of deferred maintenance, failure of Benedetti machine and negligible use of its asphalt milling machine occurred under the leadership of Public Works Chiefs Ricky Dickson and Shane Kelton. 

An engineer with knowledge of city operations said recently:

"There will be no marked change to the overall condition of the streets in San Angelo in our lifetime….guaranteed!" 

City Council may give "the boys with the big toys" a new job.  That may require street maintenance to use its asphalt zipper more than 1.3 hours per year. 

Thursday, July 07, 2022

City's Award Winning Neighborhood Blitz Reduced to "Siding Program"

San Angelo's City Council learned the annual Neighborhood Blitz ended two years ago.  Neighborhood and Family Services Director Bob Salas called it "a siding program" that ended when siding got too expensive.

It was once an award winning program that caused Mr. Salas much pride.  A 2013 city press release stated:

“It’s fabulous to be recognized by our peers – from towns as small as Dalhart to cities as
big as Dallas,” said Bob Salas, Neighborhood and Family Services director and the point
person for the blitzes.  “But the true reward comes in seeing how beautifully my colleagues have transformed neighborhoods that desperately needed some attention.  Only one word can do their work – and this award – justice: Wow!” 

Salas did not do justice to the program by limiting it to siding.  That press release also stated:

In recognizing San Angelo’s annual Neighborhood Paint and Clean-Up Blitz, the TML noted the effort “began with a simple challenge: to paint as many houses and pick up as much trash as it could in one day. The impact of that challenge has resulted in the complete transformation of neighborhoods from blight and stagnancy to progress and vibrancy.”

The TML applauded the City’s partnership with volunteers from West Texas Organizing Strategies, a grassroots organization; Angelo State University; Goodfellow Air Force Base and various nonprofit agencies such as Habitat for Humanity to grow the event to two days and to tackle a range of projects. Those have spanned from the renovation of Little League fields and improvements to historic Fort Concho to the repainting of two recreation centers and the freshening of the Concho River trail. The annual clean-up has eliminated potential code violations, which has saved an estimated $75,000 in staff time, the TML noted. More importantly, it has “rekindled neighborhood pride and spirit among residents.” The neighborhoods touched include Blackshear, Fort Concho, Lincoln, Reagan and Rio Vista.

City Manager Daniel Valenzuela seemed committed to the program in 2013:

“This is a proud day for the City of San Angelo,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said.  “And it’s a direct result of the pride our City employees have in the public service they deliver every day and in the pride they have in being San Angeloans. The exciting thing is, this is only the beginning. Our staff and the City Council, which has provided both great leadership and steadfast support for these award-winning efforts, are brimming with ideas and with the motivation to continually improve our community.”
City Council asked about assistance for elderly persons with issues complying with city codes.  Council approved CDBG and HOME grant funds paying for one full time code compliance officer to work problem areas of town.

The annual Neighborhood Blitz clean-up has eliminated potential code violations, which has saved an estimated $75,000 in staff time.

The Blitz was clearly much more than a siding program.  It's strange to hear city staff with direct responsibility for an effort describe it in a factually inaccurate manner.  It's becoming a pattern.

Update 7-8-22:  KLST ran a piece yesterday evening with Salas again referring to the Blitz again as "a siding program."  Their website does not include that video.  Oddly the documents include money for the Neighborhood Blitz which was cancelled two years ago.

Update 8-2-22:  Mayor Brenda Gunter shared her wish for the Neighborhood Blitz program to be rejuvenated in today's City Council meeting.  She said it should be reinstated as it was more than a siding program.

Update 6-28-23:  The city asked the Development Corporation for $200,000 to bring back the Neighborhood Blitz program.  COSADC approved the recommended funding.