Alpine City Council held its regular meeting on March 17 at the more spacious Alpine Civic Center instead of the customary council chambers, putting into practice the action of social distancing in response to the coronavirus issue.

City Manager Erik Zimmer announced that he met with representatives of a Big Bend Regional Medical Center task force to discuss issues relating to the virus. Although there were no reported cases in the Tri-County so far, Zimmer stressed that the number one priority lies with the citizens of Alpine, especially the older population who fit the vulnerable category.

Zimmer also praised Mayor Andy Ramos for providing information about following Center for Disease Control guidelines to the public.

“We are the elected officials of the city,” said Ramos. “Our number one concern is with the well-being of the citizens of Alpine, Texas. I heard comments that the county isn’t doing anything, the city isn’t doing anything, but we have a game plan to inform people of what is developing, and what we have done collectively to ensure your safety.”

Council, Ward 2, Ramon Olivas asked what specific measures the city would take in the event of residents infected with the virus, especially those who are indigent, and asked, “Do we have the medical services available up to par at the hospital or medical centers to meet the demand if there is one?”

Zimmer gave credit to Medical Center physician Dr. Ekta Escovar for providing information to the public, and said Alpine Police Department officers would be available as backup to assist vulnerable and needy residents with grocery and other shopping duties if needed.

In other business, the council discussed and passed the first reading of a proposed ordinance authored by Council, Ward 5, Rick Stephens, limiting parking to no more than 30 minutes on weekdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in the 100 block of West Avenue E, located between 5th and 6th streets on both the north and south sides of the roadway.

Stephens said the parking problem affects business owners, and added, “With the new hotel [Old Gringo] being built in the intersection of 5th and West Avenue E, parking is getting clogged. Council needs to have a discussion about parking in downtown to support not only the hoteliers, but also the business owners.”

Police Chief Robert Martin said violators would receive a parking citation, and there would be no parking signs installed to warn drivers of the ordinance.

Stephens also made a motion on the first reading of a proposed ordinance for the placement of a “No Parking” sign inside the Old Town Square lot where it specifically prohibits parking, and council approved.

The next regularly scheduled city council meeting is set for Tuesday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

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