Advocate editorial board opinion: City needs to move ahead with sewer plant
By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 19, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.
Victoria is moving forward rapidly.
Its city council cannot afford to go backward.
New council member Emett Alvarez asked the council to withdraw the city's permit for a sewage treatment plant in his district. Alvarez ran on this issue, so it's somewhat understandable why he would begin with it at his first council meeting. A three-vote victory margin, though, is hardly a mandate, even within his own district, let alone the entire city.
Alvarez and the other council members also should remember they promised to be careful stewards of the city's tax dollars. Already, the city has established why the chosen location for the sewage plant makes good financial sense. Building at the other locations considered would cost a million dollars or more. Ongoing operational costs would climb even higher.
Because of Alvarez's request, the council has called a special meeting for June 12 at the site of the proposed sewage plant. There, all council members and any interested residents may see just how good this location will be. It is remote and can be easily buffered from the handful of residents who live nearby. From the plant location within the site's almost 80 acres, no house is even visible.
At the special meeting, the city's consultants will give another report on its findings, analysis and selection process. The public will see again why science and engineering dictate this location. The council's decision of two years ago should not be reversed.
Any concerned new council member also should visit a similar sewage plant in Sugar Land, which the Advocate analyzed recently. There, it is clear that the advanced technology makes a modern plant much more compatible with neighbors. High-priced homes, the First Colony Mall and even Sugar Land's Town Center all flourish within close scent-distance to the plant.
Victoria's new plant will allow it to close the outdated Willow Street plant, vastly improving life for neighbors there. Alvarez and other council members should keep these people in mind and move as quickly as possible to open the modern replacement plant.
The city must have a new plant in operation by 2015 or face possible state fines. Victoria's growth requires this new construction. It cannot afford to go backward for many reasons.
The city also has many other exciting opportunities that require the council's attention. A taste of that came during the same first meeting for the new council members. Unlike with the divisive sewage plant, council members voted unanimously to offer a tax abatement to Hlavinka Equipment Co., which plans to establish a distribution and service facility in Victoria.
This vote indicates all council members want to promote job creation. That's wise and reassuring because economic prosperity solves most of the city's issues. The opening soon of Caterpillar's manufacturing plant, the product of past councils' work on economic development, drives home this point.
Victoria has many reasons to look forward. Now is not the time to take a step back.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.