Natalia City Council grants easement, discusses Natalia Little League contract

The Natalia City Council granted a 15-foot easement to West Texas Gas (WTG) and discussed the City’s contract with the Natalia Little League (NLL) at the Regular meeting held July 17.
Mayor Pro Tem Sam Smith and Councilmen Chip Bluemel, Mike Fernandez, Ruben Juarez, and Tommy Ortiz were all present, as was City Secretary Lisa Hernandez.
WTG requested the 15-foot easement for the proposed gas main relocation behind the Ballfield Lift Station, located at the corner of Hwy. 132 and FM 471.
Hernandez explained that WTG wants to terminate and isolate the current line that runs along FM 471 and turns right on Hwy. 132, and reroute it behind the baseball field.
“[The current line] is underneath that cement drainage,” Utility Director Art Smith said. “They’ve got a leak in that line right now, and rather than going underneath the cement to repair, they want to just abandon that part and then reroute.”
Hernandez said the proposal was turned over to the City engineers, who reviewed it and had no concerns besides the cement drainage pipe.
“BMA’s saying it’s not theirs, TxDoT is saying it’s not them,” Hernandez said, adding that the engineers advised that the City not claim it unless it could be proven in writing that the City had installed it.
“It’s not ours,” Hernandez said. “We never constructed that.”
Former Natalia Mayor Ruby Vera agreed, saying that the City bought a cement pipe, and people from the City and Little League dug a trench and put the pipe in to channel away water that overflowed from a nearby BMA stock tank when it rained.
“But that culvert that’s there on the side, that cement culvert, the City never had any money,” Vera said. “That culvert came to be from TxDoT.”
A Fernandez-Ortiz motion to approve WTG’s request passed 5-0.
Natalia Little League
Council discussed non-Little League tournaments they believe have been held at the baseball fields, and whether that was permissible under the terms of the current contract, which was drawn up by the City attorney and has been used with minor yearly modifications since 2011.
“It’s not a business over there, but that’s what it’s being run as,” Fernandez said.
Vera said that when the contract was first used, it was with the intention that NLL have access to fields for a few weeks before the season started in order to get them ready, through August or September.
“It was going to be a very limited time span, and it was going to be for Little League purposes,” Vera said. “After that time span, then it would revert back to the City, then the contract would be over…then if Joe Bag-of-Donuts wants to have a tournament, then they would have to come and rent from the City.”
The contract was later amended to allow NLL to hold certain tournaments as long as they were Little League sanctioned events, but as of late that has not been the case.
“Keep in mind when the Little League subleases it out to organizations or individuals persons for that person to make a profit, it is now not a not-for-profit for Little League,” Hernandez said, “and the City is giving away free services to that organization.”
The current contract expires September 30. Council postponed action pending a consultation with the City attorney and the results of the election of new NLL Board members.
Other action
Council also approved closing streets for the St. John Bosco Catholic Church festival on September 3; authorized police Chief Gilbert Rodriguez to negotiate terms of a contract with Natalia ISD to assign a Natalia PD officer as a School Resource Officer for the 2017-2018 school year; extended the ACI Recycling & Disposal Services contract an additional three years to 2022; and approved an emergency interconnect agreement between the City and the East Medina Special Utility District.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer