Council denies a bar opening and discusses potable reuse water

City of San Angelo

Public sentiment was strong against the opening of Lisa’s Bar on Martin Luther King Drive at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

Pastor Lonnie Green spoke to council in opposition to the bar opening. He has lived in the neighborhood surrounding 1218 Martin Luther King Drive for 18 years. He said in the past when a different bar was open at the location, several people were murdered. Green owns four lots by the location and said in the past he found empty cans, bottles and people sleeping on his property. He’s afraid history will repeat itself. Several other people shared similar stories saying they were afraid of an increase in drunk driving and violence in their neighborhood.

Lisa Castillo, owner of  Lisa’s Bar, told Council she plans to install surveillance cameras on the property to reduce crime. She said the previous bar owners never had cameras and she feels they would make a difference.

City Council approved a motion to deny the bar opening.

Council members were also briefed on the almost $4 million Red Arroyo Trail Project and Dog Park. According to Russell Pehl, city engineer, the project is 85 percent complete. The Red Arroyo Trail Project could be complete by the end of February. Contractors working on the project are currently behind schedule. They still need to remove soil from the detention ponds and haven’t been able to because there has been water in the ponds. It’s up to the Texas Department of Transportation to decide how to remove the water. They are considering waiting until spring and allowing the water evaporate.

Construction of the dog park will begin when the trail portion of the project is complete. It should take two months to construct. Councilman Rodney Fleming had some concern over suspending the trail portion of the project until spring because that would put construction on the dog park behind and it wouldn’t be open for residents to use during the warmer weather. Pehl said it would be up to TxDot to determine if the contract will be suspended or if they will pump the water out of the detention ponds.

Another item on the agenda that raised concern with some members of the Water Advisory Board was the Direct Potable Reuse Project. Members from the Water Utilities Department asked Council for approval to negotiate a contract with Alan Plummer Associates, Inc. and Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd, Inc. for the Direct Potable Reuse Project. Bill Riley, Water Utilities Director, said that with this project the City would be able to meet San Angelo’s projected water demands. When completed, the potable water would add 7 million gallons per day to the city’s current water supply. He also said that San Angelo residents have done all they can to conserve water. The state average of daily water use per capita for residential is 85 gallons, San Angelo is below the state average at 65 gallons. According to Riley, this is the only guaranteed water source we have right now, in the short term. The Water Utilities Department closed their presentation with recommending to council to negotiate a contract for the design and implementation of the Direct Potable Reuse Facility.

The item was then open to the public for discussion. Chuck Brown with the Water Advisory Board, voiced his concern about the long term health effects of using direct potable water. He said that even through the filtration process some medications could show up in reuse potable water. Former councilman and member of the Water Advisory Board, Kendall Hirschfeld said, “Potable reuse water is probably in our future but the Water Advisory Board and Council needs to evaluate more deeply and look at all the value and all the facts.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff wanted other water project data to compare with the Direct Potable Reuse Project. Grindstaff was also concerned with the $136 million estimated cost of the project. She mentioned that the City just finished the Hickory Aquifer Project that cost $120 million. Riley said that even with the Hickory and the Potable Water Reuse Project this still wouldn’t be the end to water concerns. Members of the Water Utilities Department are still looking at other water resources, one of them includes other aquifers but that is long term and those resources are not currently available. The City needs water resources that are available now to supplement the water shortage caused by the drought.

Council decided to table the motion to approve contract negotiations with a contractor until they have more information.