Riverside parking plan draws fire


Dec. 8, 2010 at 6:08 a.m.
Updated Dec. 17, 2010 at 6:17 a.m.

A plan to build 147 parking spaces in Riverside Park to benefit a restaurant and the park has members of the Victoria City Council at odds.

"I think it's a fair deal," Council Member Tom Halepaska said. "No one is being put upon."

But Council Member Gabriel Soliz has a different take.

"My criticism is of certain people on the council who were aware of what the complete plan was and did not make that information known to the rest of council," he said. "To me that flies in the face of public trust."

The controversy centers around a joint public-private plan to build the parking in Riverside near the intersection of Memorial and John F. Lee drives. The council adopted the plan on a 4-3 vote Tuesday.

Dennis Patillo and Louise Hull Patillo purchased property from the city near that location and are building a restaurant.

The deal calls for them to build and pay for 13 parking spaces on their property at an estimated cost of $15,000. It also calls for them to pay about $48,500 to build another 54 parking spaces nearby on city property along Memorial Drive.

Halepaska said all of the spaces, including the ones on restaurant property, would be available for the general public to use as well as restaurant customers.

That adds up to 67 spaces, which is what the city codes requires the restaurant to have to accommodate its customers.

The city will also put another 40 spaces in front of the Texas Zoo at an estimated cost of $49,000 and 40 spaces adjacent to the restaurant at an estimated cost of $59,100. That would be at city expense.

"I think we're getting a good deal because we're getting parking for anybody that wants to use it for whatever reason," said Halepaska, noting some of the parking will be paid for by the restaurant owners. "We're also getting additional parking for the zoo, which has been needed for a long time."

The Patillos paid the city $68,500 for the property for the restaurant and are taking land that was useless to the city and putting it on the tax role, Halepaska said. The business will also generate sales tax income for the city, he said.

Halepaska scoffed at those questioning the city's intent in working out a deal with the restaurant.

"They're paying for what they need and the city is paying for what it needs in front of the zoo," he said. "What's the sweetheart deal?"

The owners building the restaurant had to have known a year ago when they bought the land they would be coming to the city to arrange for parking, Soliz said. But he said he doesn't necessarily believe it's the responsibility of the property owners to make sure all of the council knew about the arrangement.

He said that responsibility belongs to the council members who knew of the plan. While he declined to name names, he said he thinks the split vote should make that clear to the public.

Those supporting the deal were Mayor Will Armstrong, Halepaska, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek and Council Member Denise Rangel. Opposed were Soliz and council members David Hagan and Joe Truman.

"If they knew a year ago this was going to be the plan but never said anything in discussion during the sale of the property, that upsets me to no end," Soliz said.



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