The City of Alpine held its regular city council meeting on March 3 and one of the main topics of discussion was the status of the downtown area.  

City Manager Erik Zimmer looked back at the 2017 City of Alpine Vision Plan, a detailed study that presented plans and concepts for developing and revitalizing the city’s historic downtown district and its tourism potential. Among some of the key items that Zimmer discussed were bringing a special events center to attract tourists, enhancing pedestrian access by improving sidewalks and street crossings, developing additional parking, and increasing overnight accommodations.

Zimmer announced that there would be a series of workshops to further discuss a comprehensive plan, with the first being Saturday, March 21. Zimmer said he has also held discussions with TxDOT about what a bypass both for rail and truck traffic would look like, taking into consideration transportation, planning and zoning, and historical elements working together and focusing on long-term impacts.  

“When TXDOT was using the Highway 67 corridor plan, they opted to not include any sort of research or discussion on the bypass,” said Zimmer. “We are working on having that discussion because we have to see what the impacts are for much heavier traffic in downtown, and danger of the trucks coming off Holland and Avenue E.”

In other business, City Attorney Rod Ponton said that the ordinance fining Union Pacific for blocking the 5th street intersection was now finalized, and he would meet with Zimmer and Police Chief Robert Martin on the process for issuing tickets.

With regard to the Lechugilla Road low income housing development, Ponton said that one of the main issues are in making sure the developers can provide proof of easement on the road, including compliance with easement owners and assuring that drainage and road construction meet the city’s standards.

In other news, the council approved the final reading of an ordinance establishing the regulation of skill or pleasure coin operated machines establishments. Council, Ward 2, Ramon Olivas asked Zimmer to identify the specific establishments, and Zimmer replied that one is the Alpine American Legion, which is exempt from having to pay licensing and permit fees, but is still subject to inspection to make sure the machines are registered with the state.

Zimmer offered vague information about the locations of the other two establishments, with only a mention that one was off Avenue E and the other one on U.S. Highway 90 west. Mayor Andy Ramos specified that one of the coin-operated facilities were adjacent to Alpine Oriental Express restaurant on Highway 90.

Finally, Mayor Ramos issued a proclamation for the Sunshine House, declaring March 2020 as the 18th annual March for Meals Month to recognize nutrition programs for older Americans and raise awareness for senior hunger in America. Meals on Wheels has served senior citizens and disabled residents of Alpine for 41 years.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

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