At the March 5 Llano City Council meeting, Llano citizens Elrita Tribble and Glenn Tribble addressed the council regarding a decision made to restrict access on Salem Street on November 7, following a request by Hatch Smith, owner of property on both sides of Salem.
Smith had approached Council due to concerns of vandalism and trespassing and requested to be allowed to put a gate up to keep people from driving down to the sale barn and doing donuts in the parking lot; in addition, Smith said that litter had become a big issue in the area.
The Tribbles, who are siblings, requested that Council revisit the issue, citing a long-standing tradition of Llanoites who use Salem Street to access the river. A petition circulated around Llano garnered approximately 143 signatures of Llano citizens who were against the closure of Salem Street. The petition was not given to the council at the meeting.
The Tribbles made several suggestions of steps that could be taken to prevent vandalism, such as closing access from midnight to 6am, installing security lights, police patrols and forming a neighborhood watch. In response to the littering, the Tribbles suggested that trash cans be placed along the river bank.
Several citizens spoke at the council meeting, all requesting that the city reconsider the closure of the street, citing memories of walking to the river via Salem Street, as well as expressing concern that there was not more notice of the action.
A ‘Street Closed’ sign placed on the gate put up by Smith caused confusion for residents who believed that the street had been closed without due process through public hearings. Mayor Reagor stated that that portion of Salem Street was never an open road and the action taken was to restrict access, not close the road, so a public hearing was not required under the city’s ordinances.
Hatch Smith was at Monday’s meeting, and defended his request to restrict access, stating, “I have been a good citizen and a good neighbor for years. There are other places to get to the river without trespassing.”
Smith said that for years he had overlooked the trespassing, but recently, the amount of trash and ‘hooligans’ had increased to the point where he could no longer overlook the situation.
Discussion ended with Mayor Reagor stating that he would look into the situation further to see if anything could have been done differently regarding the street.
Shane Lynch, representing the Community Center Board, requested a loan from the City in the amount of $165,000 to purchase and install horse stalls and trailer hook-ups at the covered rodeo arena that is currently under construction.
Lynch told Council that the stalls and hook-ups would be able to provide revenue for the project and that the loan would be paid off within five years or less, should the number of nights increase from the projected 12 events per year, with an average two day stay per event.
While the money would be lent to the Community Center Board, the stalls will eventually be owned by the city when the city assumes ownership of the arena.
Alderwoman Sherry Simpson expressed concerns that the loaning of the funds would affect money the city has set aside to deal with water issues.
Mike Sewell, Planning and Zoning Board member, was in the audience and expressed concern that the arena would not be viable in light of the fact that it hasn’t been built yet and already needs additional funds.
Following discussion, Council voted to loan the money for the stalls, with the stipulation that the city’s sinking fund not be touched.
The majority of the Council voted for the loan, with Alderman Gordon Hefner voting against the motion.
In other news, the Council accepted the audit presented by Keith Neffendorf on behalf of Neffendorf, Knopp, Doss & Company, PC.
With total net assets totaling more than $9.5 million dollars, and liabilities of approximately $480,000, Neffendorf told Council that the City of Llano was in ‘really strong financial condition’.
Council also approved permits for the Rock-N-Riverfest to be held at Badu Park on June 29-30 as well as the closure of streets in conjunction with the Bluebell and Blue Grass Festival that will be held over Memorial Day weekend.
A special meeting will be held on Friday, March 9 at noon to allow the Council to meet with Two Pro Golf Management group to assess the status of a contract for the management of the Llano Municipal Golf Course.
Alderwoman Simpson suggested that the Council consider appointing a water committee to deal with the water issue; however, it was decided that a series of regular meetings would be called so that the Council could examine the issue at depth, and Alderman Mike Hazel stated that he wanted to see a Town Hall meeting called following those meetings to get public input. Council agreed, and meeting dates will be decided at the next Council meeting.