Sunday, February 18, 2018

Longview council to consider allocating funds for homelessness initiatives

By Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Feb. 7, 2018 at 12:03 a.m.

Guest speaker Joshua Pair talks Jan. 6 about his history of drug abuse and homelessness at the  Go-Giver Gala at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

The allocation of about $250,000 raised during Mayor Andy Mack's Go-Giver Gala to benefit Longview homelessness initiatives is among a bevy of decisions awaiting the Longview City Council on Thursday.

Council members will meet at 5:30 that evening at City Hall, 300 W. Cotton St.

The council must weigh in on about two dozen items that affect development, tourism and entertainment, policing and homebuilding along with earmarking funds raised during January's gala.

On Jan. 6, Go-Giver Gala donors gave at least $250,000 to combat homelessness in the city — all while honoring residents who make Longview a better place to live.

On Thursday, council members may accept those donations that will be used "for specialized programs aimed at helping and alleviating homelessness" in the city, according to the meeting agenda. Among those initiatives is a two-officer police outreach team dedicated to serving homeless people that started work New Year's Day and has offices at the Longview Train Depot, city spokesman Shawn Hara said.

"That is one of the things the mayor has said he would like to help fund," Hara said of the police outreach team. "As far as the other uses, I think that's to be determined by the mayor and council."

An agreement between the city and the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center also is before the council. The agreement is expected to guide the operation and maintenance of the planned arboretum, which has initiated Phase 1 work.

During the past year, the city and nonprofit group have employed consultant ETM Associates to help develop an agreement, said Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron.

A capital improvements project to rehab the south parking lot at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center is expected to cost as much as $500,000, said Community Services Director Laura Hill. She will ask the council Thursday to allocate the money from the city's fund balance.

The parking lot rehab was adopted by the council Sept. 28 as part of the city's five-year capital improvements program.

Hara, who is the city's media and tourism manager, is asking council members to amend the Main Street budget by $15,000 to construct a stage cover at Heritage Plaza. To help with construction costs, the city is getting a $13,225 donation from One Hundred Acres of Heritage.

Hara expects construction to take about a week and be completed this spring.

"The goal is for it to be completed for Downtown Live when it starts in April," he said. "We don't have a date yet of when they're going to do installation, but that is the goal."

Public hearings will be conducted before council consideration on six zoning items:

Amending the Future Land Use Map from office to retail for an area southwest of the McCann Road-Spring Hill Road intersection;

Rezoning 5.645 acres southwest of the McCann Road-Spring Hill Road intersection for a self storage/mini warehouse business;

Rezoning 2.04 acres at the southwest corner of Forest Square and McCann Road from planned development to general retail;

Rezoning 0.691 acres east of Ridgewood Drive from single-family residential to planned development to allow St. Mary's Catholic Church to build a columbarium;

Designating the Gregg County Historical Museum and Everett Building as a local historical landmark; and,

Rezoning 5.92 acres east of Gilmer Road and north of Fairmont Street from planned development to multi-family.

Also, five developers are seeking letters of support from the city for their applications to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for 9 percent housing tax credits to build rent-reduced housing in Longview.

Development Services Director Michael Shirley will make the requests on behalf of developers planning such housing projects as Longview Pines Apartments, Longview Heritage Tower, Legacy Trails of Longview, Hickory Trails and Fairmont Estates.

Approving letters of support doesn't commit the city to spending public money on the development ideas or place favoritism of one developer over another, Hara said.

"It's just saying that we support your application," he said.

According to the consent portion of the agenda, the council also will consider:

Applying for, receiving and spending a $1,000 grant from Walmart for adult continuing education books;

Executing a $185,184 contract with ChlorKing Innovations for a 36-month equipment and maintenance lease for on-site chlorine production equipment for municipal swimming pools;

Authorizing a $1,350 sale of tax foreclosure property at 15 Bradley St. to Joy Global Longview Operations; and

Applying for, receiving and spending $25,000 from the 2018 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program for police initiatives that reduce crime and its effect on communities.



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