Last Monday, April 8, we had a regularly scheduled meeting of the City Commission and I would like to take a few minutes to share a few things that were discussed and decided. As is true of every Commission meeting there were several items of “housekeeping” that we have to deal with to keep things running smoothly and that do not require much thoughtful consideration. At that particular meeting we passed a Resolution approving the Investment Policy of the City and reviewing the investment report which we have recently modified to be more transparent and informative. Also, we approved two Ordinances to replace previous ones that needed minor modifications to meet our current needs adequately; one to adopt the current edition of various international building codes as opposed to specified codes that change as new techniques and technologies are adopted, and the other to regulate a very specific and regular form of outdoor fire use and burning. We also changed the May meeting of the City Commission to May 14 which is the day after our normal schedule, and we spent considerable time discussing a citizen’s complaint about Animal Control and considered several options for changing procedures to resolve these and other issues in the future for pet owners.
All of the actions that I mentioned above are pretty much standard type issues that the Commission deals with every month, but we also took action on a couple of items that I feel will have a lasting impact on our community. First, we approved a contract with Blackwell Environmental, Inc. for engineering and professional services to oversee the construction and improvement of the City’s waste water treatment plant. We have been working on the design and permitting considerations for at least three years, but now we can move into the actual construction and look forward to making modifications that will benefit our community for decades to come. Since the sewer plant is somewhat hidden out behind the landfill, most citizens will not even notice that there is work being done but the result will be a better plant that will be more productive, meet the real needs of our residents, be energy efficient, provide clean water to irrigate some grass pastures, and exceed all of the regulations and permits for this type of operation. After years of trying to patch and make do with an aging and somewhat broken system, in a couple of years when all of the dust settles we can rely on a well designed and easily maintained system that will continue to serve all of the residents of Mason for many years. You may not notice any more activity than ads soliciting bids for various aspects of the construction, but be assured that the City staff and crews are anxious to begin resolving some problems that have been plaguing them for years.
The other action that I wanted to share with you was the approval of a Resolution “recognizing the need for efficient, cost-effective and non-intrusive lighting to preserve the benefit and enjoyment of the night sky”. I have had discussions for the past couple of years concerning the need to help protect the night sky from the light pollution that occurs as towns develop and more “security lights” are used, as we have seen throughout the Hill Country. In the years I have been living here away from the big city I have always enjoyed the easy view of the Milky Way and the night sky full of stars but as we see the increases of night lighting and the use of poorly designed light fixtures which produce significant “light trespass” on neighboring property we need to act to preserve the beauty that surrounds us every night. The City of Mason has begun addressing this issue by changing street lights to “cobra head” fixtures that direct light down on the street, and even better the LED lights that we have installed on two sides of the Square, but this Resolution shows our commitment to provide the best street lighting with the least negative impact to the beauty of the night skies. The City has more LED street lights on order and we will continue to upgrade our system, but we also encourage our residents to join us in using outdoor lighting fixtures that use available technologies for efficient and non-intrusive lighting. We will look toward working on an Ordinance that will give guidance for new construction with an emphasis on commercial lighting friendly to night-sky expectations, but if you would like more information or would like to discuss this just give me a call or stop me to visit at any time.
The other current concern that you might be able to help with, is our need to fill the lifeguard positions so that we can provide a safe place for our kids and adults to swim this summer. We have placed ads in this paper, but if you know of young adults who might like to work at the pool this summer please encourage them to come by the City office and fill out an application in the next couple of weeks so that we can interview and make decisions. If you have other ideas or suggestions that would make Mason a better place to live and work, please let us know and we will address your concerns. Together we will make this the very best hometown in Texas.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley