The Sealy City Council last week decided to remove a brick structure that sits at the intersection of Main Street and the west side of Highway 36.
The matter was placed on the agenda by Councilman Chris Noack, who said at least four motorists have run into the structure on Main Street near City Hall. Repairs for a recent accident were estimated at about $1,500.
“I understand that a lot of donations have gone into being able to build that sign,” Noack said. “My concern is it’s been hit four times and it’s not been there for very long. When it is hit, the city is in a bind where it doesn’t look very pretty because we’re having to wait for the insurance money to come in. I am concerned that someone is going to take that curb faster than they have taken it [in the past] and we’re going to end up losing a life over that sign.”
Noack said he wanted to see what the insurance estimate would be with the thought that those funds could be used to remove the sign.
“We wouldn’t have the worry of, is it going to get hit again, and if it does get hit again, is that person going to have insurance to pay for it or is that going to be at the city’s expense?” Noack said.
Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma was opposed to removing the structure.
“I am sitting at that light no less than six times a day in the turning lane to turn onto Highway 36,” Lerma said. “I understand that people are hitting the monument because they’re speeding or because they don’t take a wide turn or whatever. My thought is that if I’m sitting in that turning lane, without that monument there, they’re going to hit me. I’m actually appreciating that the monument is there. I like the barrier there.”
Councilman Larry Koy said that a resident who hit the city’s clock tower did not have insurance.
“It cost the city,” he said. “We’re responsible for the safety, health and well-being of the citizens of Sealy, and it’s been hit this many times, I side with Mr. Noack. You repair it for $1,500 or whatever and it gets hit again; it’s just a never-ending deal. I drive around quite a bit too and there’s some near-misses.”
Police Chief Jay Reeves said he has spoken to several people who have struck the monument and “generally what we’ve come up with is, it’s new,” he said, explaining that motorists are not used to it being there so they turn the corner like they always have.
Councilman John Hinze agreed that a problem occurs when a 5-foot brick wall in the middle of a road.
“Unfortunately that’s not smart planning,” he said. “We have parking 10 feet down the road from where you have to make that turn … There’s not enough room. I think if that had been brought to council, we may have thought better of it. It was never brought to council. I didn’t know a thing about it. If you put a rock in the middle of the road, people are going to hit it because it’s never been there before. It’s not supposed to be there.”
Hinze went on to say that he thinks it was a “well-intended” and “lovely” donation by private donors and the Main Street program but it’s basically not working out. Mayor Pro-Tem Sandra Vrablec said she’s had concerns about the structure since it was installed several months ago.
“It went in and we didn’t know it was going in until we saw it,” Vrablec said.
Mayor Janice Whitehead requested an accounting report to show who donated toward the project and how much “because I think those people need to know that this particular item they donated for has been found to be in a hazardous location and that we’re going to either remove it or fix it. I think they need to know what we’re going to do with it. I’d like that courtesy.”
Whitehead suggested tabling the item until more research can be done but Noack proceeded with a motion to remove the monument, which ultimately was approved by all council members except Lerma and Whitehead.