Marfa Police Department Addressing City-Wide Issue with Loose Dogs
At the request of citizens, Chief of Police Estevan Marquez and Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger recently met with a group of community members to discuss the number of loose and unleashed dogs in Marfa. The Police Department is now working to educate the public on the issue.
Several citizens in attendance had been attacked and bitten by a loose dog. Others stated that their own leashed dog had been attacked and badly wounded by loose, aggressive dogs while walking in town. Chief Marquez reviewed the City’s ordinance regarding small animals, listened to citizens’ concerns, and agreed that the ordinance as it stands had not been properly enforced in the past. Marfa’s ordinance states that all animals must be securely confined on the owner’s premises and when off those premises must at all times be under physical restraint (by means of a leash, chain, cord, or similar device.)
“Basically, this means that if someone’s dog escapes their yard or home, is running around at large, or if a person is walking their dog without a leash, they’re in violation of the City ordinance,” said Chief Marquez.
City Council is in the process of reviewing and updating City ordinances and placed animal ordinances on their list of priorities earlier this year. Several citizens in attendance offered to join an effort to review and update the animal ordinance. Any citizens interested in participating should contact Peggy O’Brien, Assistant to the City Manager.
According to Chief Marquez, his officers will be re-educating the public and stepping up enforcement of the ordinance. First time violators will be warned. Second time offenders will receive a citation. Fines are set by the Municipal Court based on individual case and number of violations, not to exceed $500. Marquez also stressed the importance of victims filing a police report following an incident and that citizens should report any loose animals directly to the department.
Marfa Police Department’s on-call officers can be reached 24/7 at (432) 729-1841. Chief Estevan Marquez is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 432 295-0014. Peggy O’Brien, Assistant to the City Manager, is available at email@example.com.
City Planning Initiative Underway, Citizens Asked to Complete Community Survey
On Monday, March 5, city officials met at the USO Building to begin a strategic planning process intended to gather information, create a vision and mission for City government, and rank priorities to guide the City’s future projects and budget decisions.
Citizens are asked to please make their voice heard by completing the community survey, available in both English and Spanish at City Hall and the library. On-line surveys are also available: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/planmarfa_english and https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/planmarfa_spanish
Comprehensive Repairs Underway to City’s Water Towers and Underground Infrastructure
Marfa’s main water supply comes from two water towers – the silver cone-top tower, near the Courthouse, and the purple and white tower located at the north edge of town. The City has begun a comprehensive maintenance plan for both towers, work that has not been done before, due in large part to financial constraints. The work is part of a larger infrastructure planning effort by City administration to address Marfa’s aging infrastructure–street pavement, underground water pipes and valves, and gas lines.
The cone top tower is currently drained of water and is being cleaned inside and out. After it is thoroughly cleaned, large rust spots will be patched and the tower will be brought up to OSHA safety standards. With the silver tower offline for maintenance, the City is relying on the purple and white tower for its water supply. The City has contracted with Maguire Iron, a company that specializes in water tower maintenance, for the immediate repairs to both towers as well as entered into a long-term contract for regular maintenance and inspections.
On Monday evening, residents reported a large leak at a fire hydrant on Galveston Street, a leak that highlighted some of the large-scale problems with the City’s water system. Because the system lacks a sufficient number of valves, Marfa’s public works crew was unable to isolate the problem to that neighborhood, and instead had to shut off water to the entire City. Water was off city-wide from approximately 6 - 11:30 pm. Crews worked into the night with temperatures near freezing to return water service to Marfa residents.
For many years, Marfa was in financial hardship and there simply weren’t funds to keep up with maintenance. Repairs, by necessity, were done on a shoestring. City staff worked extremely hard and did the best they could, but years of shortage of funds and the resulting deferred maintenance built up.
Now, the City is in a much better place financially, and the administration is addressing the backlog of maintenance while planning for the future. City Manager Terry Brechtel said, “The City is taking a comprehensive approach to maintaining our water infrastructure by doing complete repairs to both the cone-top and purple and white water towers. We also have a new water well coming on line this spring. These improvements along with other needed repairs and upgrades to the water lines mean that residents will not have to go through a town water outage like we had on Monday night.”
Mayor Schedules Public Meeting on April 11 with Festival Producers
C3 Presents, an entertainment group based in Austin, is planning a large-scale festival to take place on a private ranch north of Marfa in spring 2020. C3 Presents is the producer behind Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, and other live concerts and events. The group says they want to make the festival an annual event and hope to bring 5,000 attendees the first year.
“Citizens in Marfa and throughout the tri-county area have expressed their concern to council members and to me about the impact the event will have on the town’s residents, city infrastructure, emergency services, and the land,” said Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger. The mayor invited the founder of C3, Charles Attal, to a public meeting to answer these and other questions and concerns. “Mr. Attal agreed to come to Marfa with his team in April to meet with community members in a public forum,” she said.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 11 at 6:00 pm at the USO Building/Visitor Center located at 302 South Highland Avenue in Marfa. Mr. Attal has told the mayor he will make a presentation and answer questions from the public during the meeting.
City of Marfa Awarded Grants from Dixon Water Foundation and Department of Justice The City of Marfa recently received notification of two grant awards which together bring nearly $52,000 in revenue to support creek restoration and to purchase mobile dispatch equipment for the Marfa Police Department.
Dixon Water Foundation Lends Support for the Alamito Creek Improvement Project
The Dixon Water Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to the City to help restore areas of Alamito Creek. The Alamito Creek Improvement Project aims to clean up years of dumped construction debris and other materials along the creek’s banks and take additional measures to improve the health of the watershed, allowing regrowth of trees and grasses. Eventually, a simple walking and biking path could be incorporated for the community’s recreational use.
The project is part of a larger planning effort being pursued by City administration to improve streets and sidewalks, drainage, and the sewer system, and to provide safe routes to the school campus, parks, and other locations. A hike/bike path, if established, could connect to sidewalks or bike lanes to provide places for walking, jogging and cycling away from vehicle traffic.
“Dixon Water Foundation’s mission is to promote healthy watersheds and their Mimm’s Unit is just north of our project’s location, so this is a very significant partnership for us,” said Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger. “There’s a committed group of volunteers that want to clean up the creek, allow trees and grasses to thrive, and create a trail. This grant is a really important first step to understanding what it would take to do that,” she added. The City is seeking matching grant funds from other sources in order to get the first phase of the project underway. Department of Justice Award to Marfa Police Department
Marfa secured a $31,975 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) on behalf of its police department from the U.S. Department of Justice, following recommendation from the Rio Grande Regional Council of Governments. The grant will allow Marfa Police Department
On January 8th, the Marfa City Council hosted the first of two public hearings in conjunction with the Planning & Zoning Commission. The purpose of the hearing was to introduce changes being proposed to the City’s zoning map, take comments and field questions from the public regarding the proposal. There are six discreet areas where commission members are recommending a change to the zoning category. The proposed changes to the map are part of a larger effort by the commission to update a cumbersome and outdated ordinance with one that reflects the town’s interests and priorities and aligns with the City’s comprehensive plan. Future public hearings will also be held regarding these proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance. While a draft of the revised ordinance is still being reviewed by City staff the significant changes being recommended by the commission are as follows:
• Reducing the minimum lot size (currently 10,000 sf) and intensity of use requirements to reflect the actual lot sizes (6000 sf on average) and historic density in Marfa
• Reducing residential building setback requirements and allowing for the use of prevailing setbacks within immediate localities
• Lowering the maximum allowable height for buildings in commercial zones from 90’ to 38’
• Making reductions to the off-street parking requirements for dwellings, retail and assembly spaces
• Revising the requirements for the placement of a manufactured home within the City
• Increasing restrictions on outdoor signage
• Simplifying fence height requirements
• Adopting a clearer, more concise format for the zoning ordinance
A second joint hearing regarding the changes to the map will be held on Thursday, January 31st at 5:30pm in the Casner room. This meeting is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
Holiday Open House at City Hall
Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger invites everyone to this year’s annual holiday party at City Hall on Thursday, December 20 from 4 – 6:00 pm. There will be plenty of tamales, cookies, sweets, and other goodies, and Chinati Foundation artists will help folks screen print cards and gift tags. The Marfa Police Department is in charge of tracking down Santa to make an appearance at the event.
For the second year, the event will include a food drive on behalf of Marfa Food Pantry. Suggested items to donate include canned fish or meat; peanut butter; canned vegetables (especially corn, beans, and green beans;) and dried pasta or rice.
For more information, please contact City Hall at 432 729 3158.