The Hope City Board met briefly Tuesday at Hope City Hall. Other than a discussion on an upcoming goals meeting and facility tour, the meeting consisted off updates on the state of some projects and requests that are in the works.
City Facilities Tour
The Board discussed a few specifics about their upcoming facility tour. Consensus seemed to be that the members want to make sure to visit some of the facilities they haven’t in their more recent tours and would like to get an earlier start to give them more time and opportunity. Board Member Don Still said that the tours help boost the morale of city employees who want the city government to come and see what they do. The Board agreed to meet on Tuesday, October 22.
City Manager Report
City Manager Catherine Cook updated the board on several issues including a request by Randy Odom to hook a commercial building they plan on building next to UAHT into city water and sewer, an update on the sculpture installation at Pavilion Park, the installation of new playground equipment at Northside Park, status of a rail construction and the status of attempts to reduce the number of trains blocking railroad crossings in the city during busier traffic periods.
Odom Utilities Request
The lot where Odom plans construction of a commercial building is located at 100 and 102 Rogers Ln., next to the college and just outside the city limits. Odom said once the construction is complete, he would like to have the location annexed into the city limits.
One potential issue with the construction is that its location is in a local flood plain area. Catherine Cook told the Board that the city has no say or involvement in the flood plain issue since it is in the county. Odom told the Board that he has gone over everything with proper state and county authorities and that the flood plain issue isn’t much concern because the location is in one of the parts of the flood plain least likely to have a problem with flood waters.
Board Member Don Still expressed a concern he’s had previously when requests for access to city water and sewer from county residents have been brought to the Board. Still said that water and sewer access is the only thing the county has to try to incentivize county residents to annex into the city limits and they really need to “tighten the reigns” on granting access to those outside the city limits. Odom told the Board he intends to seek annexation into the city once the building is finished.
Still motioned that the request be approved with the caveat that the property will be annexed into the city at a later time. All present Board members approved the request.
One issue that has been raising a lot of complaints and calls into the Hope Police Department has been the number of trains that frequently block off numerous crossings in the city, causing traffic congestion and aggravation for motorists, sometimes, for hours. Police Chief J.R. Wilson told the Board that he spoke to Railroad Crossing Coordinator Drew Tessier from Union Pacific about the issue. Chief Wilson said the UP official brought the issue up and reported to the Chief that action had been taken to reduce the number of trains blocking crossing and the amount of time trains are stopped in the city. Chief Wilson said there has been a noticeable difference. City Manager Catherine Cook said that the city wants to resolve the issue without filing any official complaint, which UP would have 45 days to respond.
Catherine Cook told the Board that officials from Union Pacific will be in Hope Friday to inspect a recent rail construction project. Cook said that the project is completed at this time and will be closed out soon.
Pavilion Park Statues Installation
City Manager Catherine Cook reported that the statues purchased by Farmers Bank are in Pavilion Park and are scheduled to be unveiled in a ceremony on October 5.
Northside Park Playground Installation
City Manager Catherine Cook reported that the final location was decided on for the location of playground equipment at Northside Park. Cook said they wanted to make sure that the location was convenient so parents could hang out in the nearby pavilion and there would be easy access to the restrooms without interfering with sewer lines or other utilities. The installation was taking place Tuesday. Cook said that there is still paving to be done for parking.
Local business owner John Odom asked the Board if there is any issue with a wrecked semi being located at Bypass Wrecker’s location on N. Hazel. Odom said he thought there was a requirement that wrecked vehicles be kept behind a fence and that he’s noticed the vehicle out on the gravel lot for a couple of weeks. City Manager Catherine Cook said that she wasn’t sure if there is a requirement, but she would look into it.
Odom also asked if anything was being done about a storage building business that he said was put in on a residential lot. Odom said the buildings are just on grass and not on any kind of gravel or pavement lot. Odom said that he thought they told city code enforcement that they would move them when it dried up enough. Cook said they would look into it as well.
Hazel Simpson asked for an update on signage for Northside Park. Simpson said that they are going to get in touch with the Beautification Committee to see about getting some flowers installed as well to spruce the park up. Simpson said that they are planning to hold a Jazz music event at the park once beautification work is complete. Cook said they are discussing and working on it but there will still be some time before the signs are complete and installed.
Board Member Mark Ross brought up two properties on West 3rd St. (a former wrecker service and insurance office) which he said aren’t being maintained to the same level as the other properties in the area. Cook said they would look into it.