In last week’s column I started talking about the many projects and improvements that the City is working on to benefit our town. One I mentioned, and have been working with consultants for a year or more, is to retrofit our street lights to direct the light down and reduce the light glare and “pollution” from too much light aimed upwards. There are many different parts to making the City of Mason a dark-sky protected community and provide a much more ”star friendly” night sky, but we have recently taken another step in looking into the many options. With the invaluable help and funding from the Alpha Beta Psi service group, the City has just finished installing a unique and expensive alternative area light at Comanche Creek Park on the north side of town.
On the front page of this paper is a photo of Rene Ince, President of Alpha Beta Psi, and me up in the City bucket truck twenty feet above the ground getting a close look at the new light fixture, but any evening is a good time for you to drive by and see how it looks. The unique feature of this fixture is that it is powered by 150 LED lights rather than one big bulb, and they put out more light and even save about 30% of the electricity at the same time. Another big advantage of these LED lights is that they should last 15 times as long as regular light bulbs and thus significantly reduce maintenance costs. Alpha Beta Psi wanted to help the City with a green addition to our parks, and we all thank them for their help to improve our town. Once we have had time to observe and analyze the benefits of this new light, we will see if there is a good cost/benefit reason to replace other lighting in the parks and other places with these green, next generation LED lights. Go by the northside park and see for yourself how effective this addition to our lighting system is, and if you have suggestions or comments please let me know.
The City parks are overall showing improvements and maintenance that is making them much more functional and enjoyable for all of our residents. The sports fields get used on a very regular basis, the RV parking slots are constantly being used by visitors to our area, and the overall park areas are being trimmed and maintained in the best shape I have seen in years. The City is starting to look into the possibility of adding new playground equipment at Ft Mason Park, but the cost of safe play spaces is very high and does require extra efforts to be sure that the scope of a playground and its high costs (often well over $50,000 for a reasonable assemblage of equipment!) is a match with the needs and expectations of the community. In another part of town, we are also looking at ways to use the acreage behind the Eckert Civic Center for park or sport fields. We are seeking input from citizens or groups before we make serious plans for the space that is available, so if you have ideas or suggestions for improving the five or more acres that is available there just let me know. Another area of town that I am looking into changing is the area around the historic Broad Street Bridge, that would make that into an expansion of the Comanche Creek Park and provide additional recreation space when that bridge is no longer safe for cars and trucks and is recommended for change to a pedestrian bridge by TXDOT engineers.
There are other areas of the City services that will be changed and improved in the coming months and years, and that we have specific plans for during 2013. I will write about some of them next week such as the landfill and the expectations for street paving, so look for that article. Until then, be aware that we at the City are very encouraged by the progress that we are making, and we are actively planning how to meet the needs and improve our community for the future, and most importantly we are interested in hearing what you think about the changes and any ideas you have about the directions or specific projects we should look into. Next Monday at 5:30 in the evening at the Eckert Civic Center is our next City Commission meeting and we would be glad to have you come and share your concerns or suggestions, or just listen as the Commission and I work through the regular issues and problems there are in running the City to be a true hometown for all of us.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley