In an effort to establish an interlocal agreement regarding the housing units with George West Independent School District, the George West City Council approved of changing the leases for the housing units from 10-month leases to monthly leases.
The housing units, called cabanas, are located in Cactus Park just south of George West and were purchased by the city with the intention of providing housing for local employees who are unable to find housing near town.
This decision was faced with criticism from some local residents.
In August, the council decided to form a committee to figure out what a fair rental rate would be since local rates increased by nearly 300 percent in the last couple of years.
The committee recommended $700 per month with a $300 deposit for a 10-month lease, but it was decided to lower the monthly cost.
But now that plan could change again, depending on if the GWISD board approves of the city’s new offer.
City Manager Sandra Martinez said she met with GWISD Superintendent Ty Sparks about setting up a deal between the city and the schools where GWISD staff would live in the cabanas. She said Sparks would only recommend the deal to the school board if the city had monthly leases for the cabanas.
“It would be wise to have the school involved in all of this,” George West Mayor Sylvia Steele said. “Hopefully, the school board will go along with us; if they don’t, we’ll just try another avenue. We just don’t want the city to be upset and say ‘you’re landlords.’ We want a place for them to live; look at McMullen (ISD), I think it’s wonderful they are providing more housing.”
Martinez estimated the district would use two or three of the city’s five cabanas.
The cabanas are essentially single-wide trailers that cost $38,400 each and have a front porch, living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom, smaller bedroom or home office, and a smaller bathroom.
City Councilman Louis Salinas said the city could just end up in the same situation it was in before, with some George West residents upset about the city purchasing the cabanas.
“The school would be there with us, and not by ourselves trying to get things done,” Steele said.
Councilman Chuck Pawelek had to abstain from voting since he is a coach with GWISD. The decision to approve of changing the cabanas’ lease to monthly and send the offer to GWISD was left up to Salinas and Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Lopez. Salinas motioned to amend the lease and Lopez seconded the motion.
Once GWISD’s board makes its decision on the cabanas, the city will discuss the matter further at next month’s meeting.
In other George West City Council news:
The council approved funding $7,000 toward Unify to Beautify’s proposal to improve the city park. Once the improvements begin, it will be a joint effort between the city and UTB to improve the overall aesthetics of the park.
“(It’s) a great accomplishment, one UTB has been after for years,” UTB President Grace Wilson said.
Wilson said the goal is to make the park more inviting to the public and host theatrical and musical performances as well as showcase local artwork.
Improvements include a rock garden, flowers, a new sign and more. Once completed, upkeep will be UTB’s responsibility.
“We are thin on city employees. Once this is in place, it’s y’alls, Baby Doll,” Pawelek said. “If I get calls, I’m coming to you.”
Mary Margaret Campbell of George West Storyfest said the sign in the park belongs to Storyfest. She said she spoke with the man who originally made the sign, and he will be able to refurbish it.