Lubbock City Council Approves McDougal Downtown Redevelopment Contract, Hears Complaints on Removal of Public Comments From City TV Broadcast
At their meeting this week, the Lubbock City Council were treated to some Christmas music and then chastised by some Lubbock residents.
The Lubbock High School Chamber Orchestra opened the meeting by playing some Christmas classics, and afterward, the citizen comments portion of the meeting began.
Some citizens spoke out against the City’s decision to no longer broadcast the citizen comment portion of the meeting on Channel 2.
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson responded on that decision after the meeting, saying “There was an old resolution out that citizen comments would not be televised…We want more involvement with the citizens, but it’s being used as a platform for people to make political attacks…we’ve lost all civility.”
Robertson continued, saying “It’s not our job as a city to provide a platform for people to air their thoughts and opinions to the rest of the citizens. We’re here to conduct business first. It was really starting to become a distraction. It was starting to slow down our business decisions, and I just felt like it was time to try not televising those. Hopefully we can get back to the point where we’ve got citizens coming to share issues and concerns with us rather than make personal attacks and political statements.”
In order to return the citizen comment portion of the meeting to Channel 2, a council member would need to offer a resolution to return it to their airwaves, and it would require the approval of two-thirds of the Council.
Robertson said that this is a trial period to “see if it will tone down the rhetoric.”
Citizen comments will still be included in the minutes of the meeting, but the City has no legal requirement to televise that particular portion of the meeting, according to Amy Sims, an assistant City attorney.
Other citizens then spoke out about East Lubbock, some saying that they feel as though the City of Lubbock is doing them a disservice.
Darnell Hooper, a citizen that spoke at the meeting, offered some harsh criticism to the Council.
“The way it’s operating, east Lubbock is not a part of Lubbock, and Lubbock is developing a city of its own, minus east Lubbock and northeast Lubbock,” said Hooper.
“When you have a councilman that says ‘we’re paying all these taxes and we aren’t getting any benefit’ and a councilman laughs in his face, that’s almost like ‘colored boy, you’re still a colored boy to us,’” Hooper continued.
Another citizen weighed in, saying “Taxes are our dues…this is what taxes are supposed to be, but we don’t feel that we’re benefiting from these taxes. It’s not that we feel – we see. We would like to see redevelopment over on the east side.”
The Council also saw a presentation on the new statue of wrongly accused man Tim Cole, which will be placed in the newly-named Tim Cole Memorial Park.
Sculptor Eddie Dixon was hired to make the statue of Tim Cole, who was wrongly convicted of raping a Texas Tech student in 1985.
Cole, a military veteran, died in prison of an asthma attack in 1999, and was granted the State of Texas’ first posthumous pardon from Governor Rick Perry in 2010.
At last week’s Council meeting, the Council approved renaming a lot in the southwest corner of 19th Street and University Avenue as the Tim Cole Memorial Park, where the statue will stand, facing toward 18th and Hartford, where the Texas Tech School of Law is located.
The statue was paid for by Kevin Glasheen, who represented the family of Tim Cole after his death.
The Council then considered a proposal from the City to take back certain roads in Lubbock from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The roadway transfer is part of the proposed Lubbock Urban Street Turn Back Program.
According to the City of Lubbock, TxDOT has contacted cities with a population of more than 50,000, informing that TxDOT intends to consider transferring all maintenance and jurisdiction of certain state highways back to the cities in which they are located.
The resolution is only a proposal from the City of Lubbock to the Texas Transportation Commission, and would not be enacted until final approval is granted by the TTC.
If approved by the TTC, the proposal would be up for modification, and then up for approval yet again by the Council.
A complete list of the streets included in the proposal is available here.
The item was unanimously approved.
The Council also considered a new contract between the City of Lubbock and master developer Delbert McDougal and the McDougal Companies to continue oversight and implementation of the Downtown Revitalization Action Plan.
The former contract with McDougal was a fee-based contract, but the new contract will be a fee and performance-based contract. The new contract will pay McDougal a monthly stipend of $15,000, down from the previous contract’s $29,500.
The performance incentives in the contract will allow the master developer a one-time payment equal to 60 percent of the taxes that the Central Business Development Tax Increment Finance District receives in the first year after completion of each project directly owned, developed, or initiated by the master developer or any affiliate of the McDougal Companies.
The class two performance incentive has the master developer receiving a payment each year during the five-year term equal to 30 percent of the taxes received by the CBD TIF on the new value added over the preceding year, excluding new value added to projects directly owned or initiated by the McDougal Companies.
Robert Taylor, chairman of the downtown Lubbock Tax Increment Finance Board, spoke in favor of the contract.
So far, the City of Lubbock has spent around $1.7 million on their downtown redevelopment efforts.
When asked of other possible options if the contract were not approved, Taylor said that the City would likely go without a master developer. District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez also said that the City could handle redevelopment in-house.
Only the McDougal Companies responded to the City’s request for quotation. Others said that they would be willing to work in conjunction with McDougal Companies, but did not believe they could compete with them, according to Taylor.
“This contract has so much specificity, that we are either going to be getting something done or we’ll be terminating it with 90 days notice,” said District 6 Councilwoman Latrelle Joy.
The Council unanimously approved the new contract.
Also, the Council chose to ratify a waiver of confidentiality regarding a purchase power agreement between Lubbock Power and Light and Texas Tech University, but plans to release the information at a later date.