City to limit post office parking to 15 minutes
March 16th, 2017 under Top Stories
By JOHN DANIEL GARCIA
MARFA – Marfa drivers will be pleased with the passage of two measures at Tuesday’s city council meeting, as council members agreed to limit parking time at the Marfa Post Office and embark on a street seal coating program.
Council members discussed issues surrounding parking at the Marfa Post Office as tourism has increased, which often leaves parking spaces occupied for hours at a time, leading to the inconvenience of postal customers.
The time limit – which the city set at 15 minutes – was recommended by the city’s parking committee and was identified as a “local control option” by the Texas Department of Transportation highway department, which oversees North Highland Avenue as it also is a state highway.
“The parking committee has been hard at work and doing a terrific job, and they’ve begun to recognize some of the issues in front of the post office. We talked to the postmaster, and she’s been getting a number of complaints,” said Mayor Dan Dunlap.
The issues surrounding parking at the post office, council member Josie Simpson said, is mostly due to tourists.
“The problem is not local people. We go in and come out in no more than five minutes,” she said. “[The tourists] come in and stay [parked] for a day or longer.”
City Administrator Jim Mustard and Simpson both shared anecdotes regarding their personal experiences trying to find parking at the post office.
Simpson said she had to park in the handicap space with permission from Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, who was also at the post office.
“The parking lot (in front of the post office) was full of cars and nobody was in the post office,” she said of the experience, adding she was in and out within three minutes.
Mustard said he’s experienced the same dilemma.
Signs in front of the post office will be forthcoming, indicating a 15-minute time limit from 8am to 6pm Monday-Friday. A driver who overstays will be subject to a traffic citation offense enforced by the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office.
The seal coat project, which included a walking survey by the engineering firm of Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper, identified several streets that would benefit from seal coating, which will prolong the life of the streets and cut down on the city’s pothole problem.
Streets in the city’s West Heights Addition will get the seal coating.
According to Mustard, the city’s participation in the program will be the first since 2012, when several sections of city roads were seal coated at the cost of $148,000.
The upcoming program, however, will see less streets being seal coated as costs have nearly doubled, with the cost of seal coating the same streets estimated at $278,000, with a cost of around $3.50 per square yard.
The city also identified several streets in Fort D.A. Russell, which would benefit from seal coating but that won’t be included in the program due to necessary replacement of gas lines.
To participate in the program, Mustard said, the city would have to agree to spend between $100,000 – $125,000, due to the rural location of the city; though there is no guarantee the city will be accepted into the program with the aforementioned offer.
The funds will come out of the city’s upcoming Tax Note, as the city did not budget for the program this year.
The city voted unanimously to commit at least $125,000 for the program.
In other city news, council members agreed to take part in a multi-city group led by the Texas Municipal League to oppose Texas Senate Bill 2, which will limit cities’ ability to raise property taxes and halve the percentage of the tax raise needed to trigger a rollback election, which will be automatic under the bill.
Currently, Mayor Dunlap said, a public petition is necessary to trigger a rollback election if a city exceeds 8% in tax raises. Should the bill pass, a 4% increase will trigger a mandatory rollback election.
The city agreed to contribute around $300 to the opposition effort, which will see Alpine attorney Monty Kimball testify before the senate committee.
The city also agreed to purchase a new mini hydraulic excavator and a trailer to house a boring machine for the city’s gas department.
According to gas department employee Joseph Orozco, the new equipment will help the department become more efficient.
“It makes sense to have everything together,” he said of the trailer request, as employees currently have load a boring machine in and out of a shared trailer.
The excavator, Orozco said, will also increase productivity while the employees trench in alleyways, as the excavator will be able to reach places the current backhoe can’t.
The city approved the purchase of the equipment at a cost of $6,400 for the trailer and $33,000 for the new mini excavator.
The city also agreed to set a public hearing on April 27 before their regular meeting that day to take action on a request by Lawren Taqui and her husband to close, abandon, and sell 93 square feet of West Fremont Street in front of their residence at 1316 West Fremont Street.
The request, Mustard said, had previously been approved by the council at a price of seven cents per square foot.
The city now needs to publish two public notices and hold the public hearing 14 days after the final notice.