Roving Reporter | "Council Update: Citizens Speak and HOT Fund Reports" by Jeanette Larson

Only a few citizens spoke at the October 24, 2017 Rockport City Council meeting although a few more were in the audience to hear what's happening in town. Before the Citizens to Be Heard item on the agenda, Mayor C.J. Wax took a moment to let the audience know that although state laws on open meetings prohibit Council from responding to citizen's input or questions on items that are not on the agenda, concerns are heard. "The constraints of the law don't mean that we are not listening and thinking about your concerns," said Wax. He further commented that concerns could be placed on future agendas but that the "lack of response should not taken as lack of interest."

Colton Wood, Director of Operations for Broadus explained the disaster recovery services his company could provide if the city needs their support. Susan Stann with ROCK'INN S&J Ranch spoke on behalf of the livestock community. She let Council know that there are many animals in the Coastal Bend and requested that the city accept hay and feed when it is offered. She expressed concern that the city might think that all livestock perished or was moved during the storm. Susan then stated that if needed feed and hay could be stored on her property for distribution. Speaking on behalf of D Bar X, General Contractors, Dean Durham said his company is working with TxDOT and offered to help with debris cleanup. He stated that he had heard that the timeline for cleanup is six to nine months.

Susan Stann signs up to speak
The consent agenda, items voted on as a block, dealt with 4th quarter Hotel Occupancy Tax reports for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Several items were pulled from the agenda since representatives of those groups were in attendance. Luis Puron with the Rockport Center for the Arts explained their future plans and discussed contingencies and collaborations that will allow for several exhibitions to be held. The Rockport Cultural Arts stated that their primary focus right now is on hiring an executive director and planning for an event like the Artist's Tour. Diane Probst spoke about several Chamber of Commerce projects that had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Most of the contracts were able to be stopped for minimal loss of funds. She further stated that "more hotels and motels will re-open in the next quarter," with almost all back in business by August 2018. Because hotels and motels are the source of the HOT funds, which support many area non-profits, the Chamber will ramp up advertising in January to attract tourists back to Rockport and the Coastal Bend. Although the storm damage has had a major impact on events, Sea Fair was the sixth most successful in its history. Probst also mentioned that Sea Fair kept the community going and moving forward and was a welcome break from disaster recovery. At the November 30 meeting, Probst said the concept of "voluntourism" would be discussed. This concept involves encouraging tourists and groups that visit the area to spend some time volunteering.

In other action, Council deliberated and acted on a second extension of a moratorium on new or pending applications for installation of above-ground wireless communication facilities and on repairs and replacement of items on the Key Allegro Bridge and bulkhead. Council also heard reports from the various departments on their recovery work.

Colton Wood

Council listens to citizens

Representative from Rockport Center for the Arts

Jennifer Day, Cultural Arts District

Diane Probst, Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce

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