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Old 12-23-2008,   #1
Don
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Boat Ramp - Polaris

A project list from the Town lists a boat ramp at Polaris
It's scheduled to be completed in March '09

Sam, those of you on the Bay Area Task Force
Is this your doing?
Is it for real?
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Old 12-23-2008,   #2
Ann
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

I think I know the project list you are talking about, Don. It was presented by the CM.

I'm not sure how much faith I put in it. I've been following the construction of new WAVE stops. That project list says the BOA would approve the design on the 12-17 meeting. That was not done.

It's pretty foolish of the CM to present a project list and fail to follow it just a few weeks later.

We just don't have the leadership on the staff to follow through with much of anything -- except getting more equipment and personnel. They manage to get that done.

All you have to do is look at the crews at various spots around town to see they are not properly supervised, they are usually disorganized and often they are just standing around in groups and not working. All of this comes from lack of good management from the top down. They should have a detailed work plan and each one know exactly what they are supposed to be doing at any given time.

I know there's been some talk about a boat ramp at Polaris. Whether anyone on the town staff is really working on it is another matter.

Having said all this, the Public Works Director, Scott Fry, seems pretty competent. Whether he is allowed to do his job or whether the CM is micromanaging and pulling him from one job to another is the real question. I saw the CM indicate they were working on something in a BOA meeting one evening and the Public Works Director did the classic double take in his direction...... like to say "we are?" A little of that kind of stuff goes a long way with a good employee.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #3
Tim
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Ann, they just hired a new Assistant City Manager and Town Planner.

Like you say, they manage to get to the personnel part.

But, maybe those people will be competent and get things moving.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #4
Wrichardson
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann View Post
I think I know the project list you are talking about, Don. It was presented by the CM.

I'm not sure how much faith I put in it. I've been following the construction of new WAVE stops. That project list says the BOA would approve the design on the 12-17 meeting. That was not done.

It's pretty foolish of the CM to present a project list and fail to follow it just a few weeks later.

We just don't have the leadership on the staff to follow through with much of anything -- except getting more equipment and personnel. They manage to get that done.

All you have to do is look at the crews at various spots around town to see they are not properly supervised, they are usually disorganized and often they are just standing around in groups and not working. All of this comes from lack of good management from the top down. They should have a detailed work plan and each one know exactly what they are supposed to be doing at any given time.

I know there's been some talk about a boat ramp at Polaris. Whether anyone on the town staff is really working on it is another matter.

Having said all this, the Public Works Director, Scott Fry, seems pretty competent. Whether he is allowed to do his job or whether the CM is micromanaging and pulling him from one job to another is the real question. I saw the CM indicate they were working on something in a BOA meeting one evening and the Public Works Director did the classic double take in his direction...... like to say "we are?" A little of that kind of stuff goes a long way with a good employee.
Ann

Be careful with your comments about Staff, you may be called on the carpet by a Public Official. The boat ramp at Polaris has been there for many years the project currently underway is to re-build and repair the ramp.

Bill Richardson
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Old 12-23-2008,   #5
Ann
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

I normally try to support the staff, Bill. I think most of them are decent, hard-working and well intentioned.

It is just that I have seen this Board of Aldermen approve project after project and ask for this thing to be done or that thing to be done and NOTHING HAPPENS! All they get back are a bunch of fancy words from the CM. The aldermen must be as frustrated as we citizens are. They are trying hard to get things done and NOTHING HAPPENS!

It HAS to be lack of management at City Hall. Yes, we had a hurricane, but come on........how long is that going to be the excuse? I've witnessed hurricane recovery in towns in Florida. Within a few weeks, they are in better shape than we are now. Experience? Perhaps.

I sure hope the CM does not try to micromanage this new lady he hired as the Asst. CM.

If the Polaris Boat Ramp will be made usable, that meets the objective.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #6
lillian
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

While we are on the subject of the staff, I would like to ask the Mayor or anyone else from the staff reading this, to please remind the people in Building Inspections and Code Enforcement to be polite and COUTH when they go into businesses.

I work part time for one of the motels. The owners are the nicest people in the world with old fashioned values and graciousness. They have been visited by the Building Inspector and Code Enforcement for various reasons. These people try to comply with all ordinances. That's just who they are.

I have witnessed the town staff people come in with what seems to be a chip on their shoulder and mow them right down before the owners had a chance to say a word. Then, when the female owner asked a legitimate question, it produced the most uncouth, disrespectful response by the Building Inspector. It left me with the feeling that unless you are a redneck, you are never going to get fair treatment from that guy.

This was only one example, there are others I have witnessed. They mistake questions for challenges and get defensive and ugly. Wrong people in those jobs. Anyone who comes out to visit citizens in the town must have people skills. They must be courteous, respectful, know how to listen, have good judgment and be diplomatic. That should be the first requirement for the job.

I know there are people who give them a hard time. That's where the judgment comes in. Threats should be reserved for the difficult customers, not those who are simply trying to understand the requirement. The ordinances are complicated, most business owners don't have time to read and study them thoroughly.

Maybe their supervisor can establish a system of random oversight where he or someone else is observing their behavior with customers without them knowing it; a sort of mystery shopper.

Maybe this needs to go to a new thread. If so, Mr. Moderator, I will not be offended if you move it. But, it ties into the discussion on this one.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #7
Tim
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Lillian, There are two problems that I see with the system the town has.

1. Business Owners are in no position to complain about the treatment they receive because they know the same officials will be back. If the Building Inspector is difficult during the construction period, they can't complain about him because they fear he won't issue the CO. So, your idea of having someone covertly observing their performance is an excellent one.

2. The Code Enforcer was just told by the BOA to "crack down" on businesses that are not complying with the ordinances. Now we know the BOA is thinking of the eyesores on Padre Blvd., but what the Code Enforcer will do is visit every little business that has not dotted an "I" or crossed a "T" because they don't give him the hard time the t-shirt shops and a few others do. He'll "get tough" with your motel owners over a leaky faucet instead of cracking down on the ones that have major infractions and are impacting tourism in this town.

I've had experience with the Building Inspectors. You're right, Lillian, I think "good ole boys" probably fare better with them. They can be rough and do not seem to discriminate based on who they are talking to or who is in the room when they display that uncouth behavior.

The Code Enforcement guys just don't have the sophistication for the job. They mostly do the job by rote instead of evaluating the individual situation and exercising judgment. Some of them can be rude also, and you are also right that they do not make the distinction between a question asked for clarity and one that challenges their "authority". I tend to have more patience with them because theirs is a matter of lack of a skill, where the Building Inspector staff is intelligent and well educated enough to know better.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #8
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann View Post
We just don't have the leadership on the staff to follow through with much of anything -- except getting more equipment and personnel. They manage to get that done.
I've been here three years. The only major addition/improvement I've seen are the medians which went up in record time, just in time for Spring Break. Then everything stopped.

Then they constructed a brand new awesome Town Hall with excellent construction, landscaping, spacious offices and conference rooms, new vehicles, etc. for themselves. Now I understand that they were just getting all of these upgrades and enhancements to their daily lives out of the way so that they can focus on extending that same thoughtfulness and design throughout the rest of the Town in 2009!
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Old 12-23-2008,   #9
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

I can't speak to the code enforcement issue, although I do know the staff is reluctant "to cut some slack" because that might set a precedent for the T-shirt shops to get off easy - and these are my own words and insights, nothing from the town, so blame me if I got that wrong.

As to the Polaris Street boat ramp, that was approved by the Bay Area Committee as a recommendation for improvements not to exceed $200,000 so as to fix and improve the aging facility. Discussions were held to help get that project into the town budget as a one-time line item. Thankfully, the BOA gave it the nod.

At that time the project was forwarded to Public Works for surveys, bidding, and so forth. I'm not sure of the particulars but there were some tricky issues with construction / demolition and proximity to the condos.

We'll be meeting in January to discuss old and new projects and you are welcome to suggest any in person or by phone or email. Possibilities include but are not limited to recommendations for:
  • Continued maintenance and beautification of the the street ends
  • Assisting the town with Tompkins Channel (e.g., if FEMA money comes)
  • Identification of more motorized / non-motorized bay access ramps
  • Working with the Country on regional issues such as a ramp up on the north flats
  • Designation of Tompkins Channel as a Federal No Wake zone
  • Suggestions for boat trailer parking
I cannot speak in an official capacity but as secretary, such issues have been discussed in the meeting minutes in the past.
-sam
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Old 12-23-2008,   #10
rnpjr
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Lillian,

You are right in that our code enforcers sometimes get too authoratative, and that they do need to be more polite. They have come to my office and acted somewhat rude with my staff, so I know what you are saying. I will pass your comments on to Victor.

Bob Pinkerton Jr.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #11
Don
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

This discussion took off on a course I wasn't thinking of, but........
Glad to get the information about the boat ramp.

I've observed both the code enforcers and the building inspector
The building inspector is pretty bad
He's dealing with people who are new to the business community
In some cases, he's dealing with people who've just moved here from somewhere else.......or their builder
Some welcome
Some ambassador
Customer service should be in HIS job description, too.
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Old 12-23-2008,   #12
mermaid66
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

They did just put new playground equipment at both parks.

And we're getting sand on the beach for Christmas...YEA, YEA!

I agree with whoever said the Board of Aldermen is doing all it can. Somehow, their direction doesn't get to City Hall.

Maybe we'll all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR THIS YEAR:

- The town will improve.

- Business will improve.

- Dolly recovery will finally get done.

- Lots of new people will move on the island.

I'll keep a good thought. Merry Christmas everyone!!
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Old 12-24-2008,   #13
beachrobin
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Has anyone ever spoken to Texas Parks and Wildlife regarding boat ramps on the island? In most states, public access to water is funded by the state through fishing licenses and fines. The public boat ramps in Rockport are first class with plenty of parking, fish cleaning stations, ice machines, and restrooms.

I can't believe with all the money generated in this community for fishing, we could not have a facilty like this here.

Parking is becoming the number one problem at the Polaris launch. Since this is one of the only truly free launches left on the island, it is seeing increased usage the past year. Fortunately, we can park our trailer at home, but I often see them around this entire area scrambling for space and parking on private property.

Robin
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Old 12-24-2008,   #14
Swells
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

You raise some great points, Robin. First I'll say that we found about two dozen kinds of state and federal grant programs of with the TPWD being probably the best suited to our needs.

Just like the issue with boat trailer parking, the issue is land. We don't have any! One of the minimum requirements for the boat ramp/coastal access grants is having the title to the land. The only land we have included a few bayside street ends - Polaris being one. What we need is something on the order of about an acre for parking, ramps, turnout, and amenities such as restrooms and fish cleaning tables. Initial estimates are something like 3 to 5 million dollars for just the land. Then one can apply for a grant to improve the empty lot with all those nice things, perhaps something like up to another million (the new ramp at Isla Blanca was about $800,000 I think, don't hold me to that number). The grant pays up to 70% of the improvement costs.

And by golly, we've been trying! A perfect location would be down by Palm Street next to the Palm Street Pier and the old Tequila Frogs. It would be a perfect location in the entertainment district with lots of adjacent parking nearby. It is relatively deep water there was well - if you avoid the sandbar hump in the middle of the channel at low tide. But preliminary negotiations with the landowners did not go very well, to say the least. Nobody wanted to subdivide, accept a municipal offer (has to be assessed value), trade land, or even allow partial use for parking when the local businesses were empty. No flexibility, nada: buy all at "x" price or nothing. Gosh what a vision, but so far no traction or positive reaction.

But we'll never give up - and I hope the Bay Committee keeps it that way as members change. Are there any hopeful signs? You betcha! Lance Mullens at one had floated the idea of a public/private venture to expand the ramp at Swordfish Street, which is currently on private land. Wow, maybe two wide lanes of boat ramp? That ramp has historical significance and people have launched there for decades. There was even discussion of how to park boat trailers such as stacking empties in a large steel rack using a forklift, a very creative idea (he might charge for that). Perhaps that's a little further down the road as the project comes together and the marina is designed, but we would propose several options for the BOA to consider if things gelled.

Sorry to write a book, but I think you get a sense that much of the good bayside land is developed or would require huge bonds to secure the land title, possibly in the low 7 figures. There is a lot of community pressure to NOT turn their residential street into a marina as well. It's perhaps the toughest committee assignment on the island. -sam
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Old 12-24-2008,   #15
Wrichardson
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Re: Boat Ramp - Polaris

Quote:
Originally Posted by beachrobin View Post
Has anyone ever spoken to Texas Parks and Wildlife regarding boat ramps on the island? In most states, public access to water is funded by the state through fishing licenses and fines. The public boat ramps in Rockport are first class with plenty of parking, fish cleaning stations, ice machines, and restrooms.

I can't believe with all the money generated in this community for fishing, we could not have a facilty like this here.

Parking is becoming the number one problem at the Polaris launch. Since this is one of the only truly free launches left on the island, it is seeing increased usage the past year. Fortunately, we can park our trailer at home, but I often see them around this entire area scrambling for space and parking on private property.

Robin
Beachrobin:

You make some good points, It would be nice, if some or any, Public Offical would respond. Related to this post is: The City sold the street endings, including two free boat ramps to the owner of, Jim's Pier. Also related is, the land sold at $80.00 price per square foot and is valued by the Cameron Appraisal District, for tax purposes at $35.00 and change price per square foot. Does this concern anyone????

Bill R
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