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GALENA PARK: New Faces, New Attitude at City Hall

GALENA PARK CITY COUNCIL MEETING last Tuesday night. L to R, Attorney John Hightower, Councilmen Rodney Chersky and Oscar Silva Jr., Mayor Esmeralda Moya, Councilmen Eric Broussard and Barry Ponder, and City Secretary Mayra Gonzales.
GALENA PARK CITY COUNCIL MEETING last Tuesday night. L to R, Attorney John Hightower, Councilmen Rodney Chersky and Oscar Silva Jr., Mayor Esmeralda Moya, Councilmen Eric Broussard and Barry Ponder, and City Secretary Mayra Gonzales.

GALENA PARK – The new city council held its second regular meeting since taking office on May 17, and they had a full agenda.

But unlike the rancor and uncertainty that characterized last term’s governing sessions, this meeting was conducted in an orderly and efficient manner.

Important business that was conducted included amending a city ordinance to eliminate the position of City Administrator; hiring a law firm to collect unpaid back taxes; approving the replacement of all 349 street lights in the city with new, more efficient LED bulbs; opening bids to demolish old units at the wastewater treatment plant; affirming a contract with LJA Engineering for waterline rehabilitation; and elimination of the city’s Reserve Police Force.

Other business included the hiring of various positions to fill vacancies in city personnel. Commissioner Ponder raised the question of whether police position candidates had been properly interviewed, and voted “No” when the issue went to vote.

The audience participated in an orderly fashion, pointing out to Council various problems within the city that needed maintenance.

Cheryl Ponder announced that the Committee for a Better Galena Park was planning a big 4th of July event at the baseball field.

Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos, representing the Port of Houston Authority, presented a plan for new sidewalks and lighting along Mercury and Holland from Galena Park to Jacinto City. They are to be paid for primarily by the Port, with the city contributing.

Attorney Owen Sonik reviewed the tax collection problems, and said there was as much as $1.6 million owed from 889 properties that might be collected. Most of the decisions presented for vote passed by a 5-0 margin, indicating a concensus that was missing for the last two years of city government.

A suggestion was made by Councilman Chersky that the Mayor be paid a salary for her work as an administrator, but Attorney Hightower pointed out that state law does not allow incumbents to vote a pay raise for themselves. Mayor Moya said she didn’t want to be paid anyway, having taken the job only to improve the city, not to benefit personally.

Jonathan Castrejon, from the Harris County Public Health department, made a short presentation on the danger of lead in houses built before 1948. He said that the county was available to conduct a free survey of homes, to determining if remediation is required. Removal of the lead would not cost anything, he said. Call 713274-6374 for more info.