City continues work on drainage

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The Sealy City Council agreed last week to continue plans for a drainage project on Westview Terrace that could mitigate potential flood hazards.

The panel voted two weeks ago to move forward with removal of silt and trees that are creating drainage issues and also asked for some project options from consultants with Strand Associates.

Most of the subdivision was designed in the late 1980s or early 1990s, Assistant City Manager Warren Escovy said, and there’s a median in the middle of the road that was constructed in 1985. The concept is to remove some of the crepe myrtle trees because the area is not intended to be a landscape reserve, officials have said.

“To be fair, when the person designed it there wasn’t as much impervious surface,” Escovy said during the council’s Nov. 27 meeting.

Strand Associates has said the design and survey work – including an engineered plan – to bring the area back to its original state would cost about $3,000, Escovy said. Design work for making improvements to the upstream area would run an additional $3,500.

“I think Councilman [John] Hinze said it very well last time; we only get one shot at this,” Mayor Janice Whitehead said. “I think we need to look at the whole thing, and for $3,500 additional, I don’t think it’s that big of an expense.”

If the expense should exceed $6,500, it would go back before council, Escovy said, but he does not anticipate that will happen.

Hinze agreed that the project is important and made the motion to approve the Strand Associates study not to exceed $6,500. Council unanimously approved it.

“I think we’re going to open up a can of worms, but I mean, people have berms in their front yards to stop water coming into their house,” Hinze said. “At least we would have a plan – we may not have enough money to do it – but at least we would have a plan … I think it’s a good idea.”

Discussion then turned to the city’s Economic Development Corp.

Whitehead wanted to know what information the EDC is legally required to provide to council.

“I would really like to see us working hand in hand and not working against each other with the corporation and the city,” she said.

City Attorney Tim Kirwin said EDC bylaws dictate that they should periodically submit reports to the city council.

“I think at least annually they should be talking to you because there’s a statute that says that the corporation’s authorizing unit will approve all programs and expenditures of the corporation and annually review any financial statements of the corporation,” Kirwin said.

Representatives from the EDC were not present. The item was tabled with the suggestion that EDC representative Brian Lapham could meet with City Manager Lloyd Merrell and City Secretary Dayl Cooksey to discuss the process going forward.

“I would really like when we get a director hired and things get back to normal to have a quarterly report,” Merrell said. “Just come over and talk to the council and say, ‘I’ve been working on this. We’re trying to implement this to help the local industry …’”

In other matters, the council:

• Set a special meeting for 6 p.m. Dec. 3 to discuss city employee insurance matters. Representatives from the city’s insurance company were asked to attend.

• Approved a request from Vince Wollney, vice-president of the Sealy Chamber of Commerce board of directors, to serve alcohol at a chili cook-off fundraiser set for noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 26 at Levine Park. Tammy Hall, the Chamber’s executive assistant, also was present.

• Unanimously approved a library services agreement between the city and Virgil and Josephine Gordon Memorial Library.

• Heard a monthly report from Finance Director Steven Kutra.

• Tabled items action items on the city’s personnel policies and procedures manual and appointments to the Planning Commission and Capital Improvements Advisory Committee

• Postponed discussion on non-profit use of city facilities.

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