Following on from the Candidate forum on April 2, Here are the Candidates Answers to Follow-up Questions
Q1 Have any candidates accepted contributions from any Lakeway developers or other developers?
Steve Smith Responds: I can only answer that I have not taken contributions from developers. To learn about other candidates look at the Campaign Finance documents, which list all sources of funding, on the City of Lakeway website (www.lakeway-tx.gov) under Government/Election Information.
Tammy Stanley Responds: No
Louis Mastrangelo Responds: I made a decision early on that I would not accept donations to my campaign from anyone. As nice as it would have been to accept some of the offers, it was a conscious choice to avoid any real or perceived alliances or obligations with developers or anyone else. The only people that will have my ear will be Lakeway Citizens.
Keith Trecker Responds: I can only speak for myself, and I have not been offered or accepted any contribution from developers. My contributions come only from voting citizens.
Chris Forton Responds: No, I have not accepted any donations.
Q2. What is your view on annexing into Lakeway city limits adjoining communities that do not want to be annexed?
Steve Smith Responds: According to a State Law passed last session, residents of an ETJ must agree to being annexed. It is my understanding that Lakeway has finished its annexations. I support no new annexation except for small plots of undeveloped land.
Louis Mastrangelo Responds: When I contemplate that, I never vary in my thoughts. How can the leaders of a city have the arrogance to impose themselves on a group of people when the vast majority of them have no interest in being absorbed by a city? I might consider it if the group of home/landowners were in favor and petitioned us to annex them as long as we had something to offer each other.
Keith Trecker Responds: Annexing should be a win-win proposition for both parties, unless there are extenuating circumstances. At this time there are no areas surrounding Lakeway that are proposed being annexed.
Chris Forton Responds: There are a lot of benefits to annexing properties into the city for both Lakeway and the property being annexed. However, I feelproperty owners rights should be respected and if a community doesn’t want tobe annexed into Lakeway, they shouldn’t be forced too.
Tammy Stanley Responds: I would want to know the advantages to the city in doing that, however, if the citizens do not want to be a part of Lakeway, why would we force them to do so?
Q3. What do you propose to do to make the city council's decisions more transparent to the community?
Steve Smith Responds: Educate the public to what already exists and offer Lakeway 101, a course to inform new and current Lakeway citizens about their
government and City Services If elected I will make this a priority. The Agenda and Council packets are posted 72 hours in advance of the Council Meetings on the www.Lakeway-tx.com website under Government/Agenda&Meetings. The City Council Meetings are live streamed and recorded. The recordings of the Meetings and the Minutes are also posted on the City website. Go to the very bottom of the Home page and click on Agendas, Minutes& Archives.
I feel we need to make the city council meetings more engaging and perhaps ~ FUN. As far as their decisions, we need to brainstorm more creative ideas for presenting city business. Honestly, some of it is boring to citizens, however, we should be able to EASILY find out info on decisions that have been made. The city website is horrible, I would propose we re-design it to make it more user friendly. Important info/links should be easily accessible, not in a drop down menu. As a graphic designer, I would like to see decisions be presented in the form of some type of infographic ~ charts, graphs, shapes, photos, illustrations, etc. From a graphic designer's perspective, there are many ways to present information in a fun, engaging and informative way. I also feel each council member should be required to have their own website and their decisions and votes should be presented on the home page. The city website would link to each members sites, including the mayor. I have a rough plan already for this and how they could all be easily set up and linked. This is what I do for a living. :)
Louis Mastrangelo Responds: I would allow citizens access to my calendar for atleast 5 appointments a week through a tool I use called “Calendly”. There would be a link that any citizen could “click” and choose from available times. Before Iwould vote on anything of significance, I would employ another tool I use in business to provide a survey to any citizen who wanted to participate. I would provide citizens with the results of my research, my opinion, and a series of survey questions so they could give me direct (and confidential) feedback. I wouldattend local group meetings, like HOA’s and other neighborhood functionswhenever possible to keep a pulse on the community.Keith Trecker Responds: To begin, we need to follow up on the Citizens Engagement Committee that I sponsored last year. This will provide the citizens with input to the city on better ways to communicate both ways. Also, the city needs to start using the process I sponsored to select citizens for volunteer positions on Committees and Commissions - this provides for an open process that allows any citizen to apply.
Chris Forton Responds: I would like to see the city smartphone app work more like other smartphone apps, with push notifications for concerns that pertain towhat’s important to you. We should also make sure there is overlapping communication. From traditional print, email, and smartphone notifications. We need to make sure that no group is being left out
Q4. How would you characterize the current recreational facilities in Lakeway. (The ones you do not have to pay to join.)
Steve Smith: Lakeway is above average in recreational areas and they are in good shape, due to massive volunteer efforts on the trails and parks. We have more parks than recommended for urban areas. However, we should define our goals
in the New Comprehensive Plan. Demographics have shifted to younger families with more children. Perhaps this creates different needs. We are working to connect our trails and parks (currently in the 2018 city Budget) and we should require better preservation of natural areas in future development.
Tammy Responds: I feel we are missing something in our community for our teenagers. Our pre-school and elementary aged kids have plenty of playscapes at every playground and park. We also have the city pool for all ages, although it is dominated by families with younger kids and is now the facility is too small for our population. In the heat of the summer, unless you have little kids, it is really no fun to go for those of us who have teenagers now. The teenagers also do not enjoy it. Next door to the pool we have the skatepark, which is good for all ages including middle and high school kids, although, if you do not skate it seems awkward to go and hang out. Many parents and older citizens hate that it is even there, assuming all who skate are bad ~ which is not true. My daughter and her friends love to go and hang out. The basketball court that is there is also a great place for olders kids and adults, but not all play basketball. We have our beautiful city park for all ages. You can run, swim, play, meet, talk, have a picnic, go fishing, fly a kite or a drone...it is truly one of my favorite places in our community. So I give us a B in this department and feel we need to really brainstorm ways to perhaps turn some of our empty retail spaces into co-socializing places for our older kids. As a city, we could provide WIFI and coffee/tea bar and maybe some snacks. Like a community center/recreational meeting space for 13 and up only.
This age group has nothing of their own. Yes, we have High 5, however, my daughter has already outgrown that place. We could also have a community center/recreational space for our stay at home moms who need a place to escape other than Lola S, Vivel and The Grove. Maybe it could have a yoga, meditation room, a coffee/tea bar. Again, using an existing space that is empty. I feel this would be good investment the city could make for the community AND fill someof these empty spaces around town.
Keith Trecker Responds: The City has excellent free venues for recreational activities, primarily our parks and trails. The City must continue to develop new sources for recreation as the City grows.
Chris Forton Responds: I feel that we have amazing recreational facilities. Our hiking and biking trails allow for people of various skill levels to enjoy. The pool and surrounding campus make for a fun afternoon. I would like to see some of the other parks upgraded. For instance the ball field at Dragon Park and other recreational opportunities at City Park should be explored.
Q5: Where are the numbers coming from that say the majority of citizens are against this city center development? We need businesses so that we don't continue to depend fully on property taxes from residents? Is it not more true that we want to have sensible development?
Steve Smith Responds: As a member of Zoning and Planning Commission, I received approximately 200 emails on the proposed PUD. The survey on Nextdoor and the emails were overwhelmingly against high density and overdevelopment of commercial retail space in Lakeway. Yes, business taxes are an important sources of income to the City and the businesses add value to our lives. The New Comprehensive Plan must be developed with specific guidelines for future development.
Tammy Responds: If you were at any of the ZAPCO meetings and council meetings, it seemed fairly obvious to me a majority of citizens who showed up to make their voices heard were against it. We need to support the businesses we currently have before we bring in NEW ones to compete. We also need to survey our current business owners to find out what type of businesses might compliment theirs and others to create more synergy and balance between our city businesses.
Louis Mastrangelo Responds: Messages like these can get confused. It would be more accurate to say that most citizens were against the high-density dwellings, the lack of reasonable parking, smaller than code road widths, and so many more deviations from our building codes that were associated with the City Center PUD. Right now, almost 20% of our retail/commercial space is empty. The solution is not to build several hundred thousand square feet of new retail/commercial space. We need to focus on filling the space we have by making it easier to do business in Lakeway and encouraging more of the businesses that can thrive here, to come here. Yes, of course we need sensible development. ALL development in our city should be sensible ALWAYS. We also need to be thinking about RENEWABLE ENERGY. Solar, wind, etc. I want to see this kind of thinking from our developers.
Keith Trecker Responds: We do not have accurate numbers to determine how the majority of the full citizen base feels about business growth. At this point we only have anecdotal opinions. In the future the City will need more two-way communications about business growth and how this would offset property taxes and provide more services to our Citizens.
Chris Forton Responds: I have spoke with a lot of people and it differs what people want behind the HEB. It would seem that most people do want a sensible development. The previous plan presented was too dense and some of the variances were outside of what people wanted. Street parking, narrow streets, non-masonry exteriors and small lots were overwhelmingly disliked from the people I spoke to about the development. The central park, pavilion for a farmers market, retail around the park and live/work condos seemed to be features most people liked. I would like to see a sensible development that incorporates the items mentioned above with considerable green space, low density housing and a blending of the current oak trees into the development. I am certain that if city hall and the developer work together an amazing development can be realized.
Q6: Tammy, how will you facilitate the two-way communication you spoke about valuing?
Steve Smith Responds:
I’m not Tammy. But I feel that first we need to get information out in digestible bites and on a time schedule that fits. In speaking to tech-savvy, young professionals with families, I have learned they want a daily push of information
on upcoming issues in a neutral, informational blog. The blog can be viewed when the busy working professionals with kids have a moment in their lives. This also works for everyone else in Lakeway with some computer skills and access. As mentioned above the Agendas and Packets for Council/ZAPCO/CBC/BDS meetings are on the website. We need a way to get public feedback to council/Zapco/CBC/BDS members before their meeting AND more importantly acknowledgement of the thoughtful input from citizens at those meetings and in future agenda items. The processes we use for government in Lakeway need to be improved.
Tammy Responds: Thank you for asking this question. I have many ideas about how this can be done. At the actual council meetings, we could easily make the process of sharing less intimidating by allowing citizens to stay seated and talk with a microphone, like we do at our town hall meetings. We can also stop being so strict and shaming with our timing. Change it from 3 to 5 minutes, adding 2 minutes would make a world of difference to those of us who are, at times, verbose. We also need to step up our use of technology. If we had a live stream for council meetings, many could log on and participate from home. This would help younger families with kids who have to go to bed early, a chance to be a part of the meeting. If they want to speak, they could be timed, just like any one in attendance. I also feel having focus groups from the various parts Lakeway, (i.e.Old Lakeway, Rough Hollow, Tuscan Village, Sailmaster area) would be a great way to get input before a council meeting and we could have a representative from each present at the council meetings. Lastly, we need to stop shaming those who do share by being mean about the timing, using a less than friendly tone with the citizens who step up to make their voice heard. It is very obvious, right now, when a citizen the mayor does not like or know, steps up to speak. Rolling your eyes, being dismissive and rude are very inappropriate behavior from a council or mayor. This type of behavior does not belong in our city hall and I look forward to being a part of kinder, more respectful city council in Lakeway.
Louis Mastrangelo Responds: I’m not Tammy, but I would use the tools I mentioned above under “transparent”. I also would support monthly community round tables and a more open back and forth citizen’s participation at council meetings.