City drafting plan for $1.50 fee

Utility bill increase would benefit parks

Kimberly Rubio

Assistant editor

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin on Tuesday directed city staff to prepare a draft ordinance for a $1.50 utility bill fee to fund a parks and recreation project fund.

With roughly 6,000 utility accounts, the city stands to generate $9,000 per month to benefit the parks and recreation project fund.

McLaughlin’s directives followed a discussion on park planning and improvements.

Once prepared, McLaughlin proposed a series of meetings to garner public input on both the parks and recreation project fund and the possibility of paying an estimated $20,000 to hire a consultant to prepare a parks and recreation plan.

A formal parks and recreation plan is required in order to access state grant money. According to the city, the consultant would solicit public input by way of public meetings, surveys and social media. Previous suggestions include a splash pad, additions to the existing walking trail, and new playground equipment.

The consultant would be tasked with prioritizing projects based on popularity among staff, council and the public, but not with writing grant applications.

McLaughlin, who is in favor of the splash pad option, said he has researched prices and believes it would cost roughly $119,000. McLaughlin said he would like a splash pad at the Jardín de los Héroes Park and Uvalde Memorial Park.

Alley access

Uvalde resident Diana Karau addressed council during the citizen’s input portion of the meeting to inquire about the process to request closing the alley access located directly behind her 813 E. Nopal St. residence, which also enters onto the Inn of Uvalde property.

“There is an inordinate amount of traffic on the alley, which at least 95 percent of it being employees and guests of the Inn of Uvalde. This traffic is disruptive to our quality of life due to loud music, loud engines and even confrontations between individuals traveling in opposite directions on the alley,” Karau said, noting that she has phoned police before.

Karau also said large vehicles exiting the parking lot make sharp turns and come within inches of her fence.

“The Inn of Uvalde has two entrances onto their property off of Main Street, exactly like Days Inn, so access to the property by employees and guests would not be hindered and it would not create a loss of business,” Karau said. “The alley already dead ends on the side closest to Fifth Street and the property owners that are our neighbors on both the right and left side of our property do not utilize the alley for day-to-day access to their properties, so no burden would be placed on private residents.”

As the alley has utilities, Councilman Chip King said the alley can’t be shut down but noted staff is investigating the issue.

“We are looking at it,” King said.

“I appreciate it,” Karau said.

Other business

Council agreed to change opera house access hours from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., and increase annex rental fees from $150 to $250.

The rate will be enforced as a maximum of an eight-hour rental from key release to collection.

McLaughlin proclaimed the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness month and Child Abuse Awareness month in the city of Uvalde.

Council voted to table a request from finance director Phill Conner to purchase a smart phone meter reading system for meter readers.

“Prices have changed and we are re-evaluating,” noted city manger Vince DiPiazza.

A closed session was also held to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property, but no action was taken when council reconvened.

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