City council members on Thursday, Aug. 17, approved an ambitious set of goals for the coming fiscal year, some of which are making a repeat appearance on the goals list.
The goals were hammered out during a workshop in June, to which each member of the council brought his own priorities.
Approved on Aug. 17:
+ Support new Police Chief Sam Russell and press for continued quality improvements in the Police Department
+ Review Beach Advisory Committee recommendations and continue to enforce permits on beaches and in wetlands (the Beach Advisory Committee has set the end of October as a target date for having its report to the council)
+ Add additional file servers to the city's computer system and improve the city's Web site
+ Maintain city facilities and build harbor facilities and other projects
+ Follow through with zoning ordinances; establish a "walkable community"; promote park and ride; initiate a harbor plan; include public parking; continue the land use and thoroughfare study segments of the comprehensive plan (an open house for the public to look at a preliminary land use map is set for Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. in the council chamber)
+ Continue work on the nature preserve and support the Park Board in the permitting and design process
+ Continue work on the State Hwy. 361 project with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) (TxDOT has undertaken a corridor study to learn what will be needed in the future for State Hwy. 361 between Port Aransas and Park Road 22, and design work has started on the city's State Hwy. 361 project); build a funded hike and bike trail and add two other hike and bike trails if funds can be gotten; address highest priority drainage and street projects (council members told City Manager Michael Kovacs on Aug. 17 to go ahead with a major drainage project on Oleander Street and approved wording for a Nov. 7 bond election that would add nine other street and drainage projects to the city's to-do list)
+ Follow through with (inspection and revision) of the city's zoning ordinances
+ Work with the Beach Maintenance Committee to address maintenance improvements "and potentially a new regimen"
+ Use city operations crews to maintain quality of streets and drainage.
Streets and drainage, facilities and planning and zoning are goals veterans.
Last year, councilman Mike Hall noted that calling a bond election for
streets and drainage was "the right thing to do" although voters rejected both the issues in the election. "Any group of engineers would come up with the same (recommendations) because a low spot is a low spot," Hall said. This year, the council has already told Kovacs to go ahead with a plan to replace drainage under Oleander Street and has set Nov. 7 for a bond election for other drainage projects.
The council also called a bond election for Nov. 7 to raise money to renovate and expand the city hall/civic center complex, adding an estimated 7,000 square feet to the building and fixing the leaky roof. Other facilities projects were put off until the money can be raised.
Councilman Jerry Watson in 2005 called for bringing the city's building ordinance up to date and adding user fees where appropriate.
The council has also set Thursday, Sept. 14 for a workshop to discuss the city-owned 67 acres near the end of Port Street and on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. That 7 p.m. workshop will be a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The 67-acre tract was the focus two years ago of a plan to build a marina and a multi-story condominium-hotel. It failed in the face of massive opposition. The city has recently renewed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits to build a marina on the property; last year, Hall said, "We've owned (the property) for 11-12 years; it's time to get it off the books and do something with it."
Other suggestions from the council last year have already been acted on.
Councilman Rick Pratt in 2005 urged a look at other forms of revenue for the city; this year, Kovacs has said he would try to institute a system of fees that would charge developers for impacts they have on the city. Pratt also sought a reorganization of the police department; Police Chief Sam Russell was hired earlier this year.
Pratt's plea to get a grip on the "old town" area of Port Aransas also
bore fruit with a survey of cultural resources sponsored by the Port Online, print editions Aransas Preservation and Historical Association, scheduled to be finished in December, and agreement by the council this month to investigate the benefits of becoming a certified local government, which could open grant avenues for preservation projects.
Council member Beverly Charles' idea of educating voters about elections will apparently be part of the council's bond election this year. The council has agreed that voters must understand and approve of what will be done with the bond funds before they will vote for bond projects. However, no official action has yet been taken to appoint spokespeople as bond proponents.
Councilman Bubba Jensen remarked in 2005 that "the traffic problem won't be solved until we do something about the ferry landing." Jensen suggested a road connecting State Hwy. 361 with a ferry landing on the city's 67-acre tract on the Ship Channel. While that hasn't come to pass, two more ferry slips are under construction and design is about to begin on a new, larger ferry boat.
Missing from this year's goals:
+ RV beach camping. Last year, Hall said it should be studied and put on a workshop. That hasn't happened.
+ Smart growth. Charles wanted the city to adopt a policy on smart growth. No such policy yet exists.
+ Charter revision. In 2005, Watson wanted to change the referendum and initiative recall sections of the city charter. A charter review committee has been appointed, but hasn't yet reported back to the council. The council can't change charter provisions on its own; those must be approved by voters.
+ Maintenance. Pratt pleaded for a maintenance program for city buildings. None exists.
+ Coastal management plan review. Then-Mayor Georgia Neblett said the city's coastal management plan needed to be amended, but that hasn't come before the council.