The controversy over four empty lots in Mahncke Park that the University of Incarnate Word would like to convert into a 33-space parking lot and that neighbors would like to keep zoned residential took another unexpected turn Thursday as City Council granted a request by UIW officials to table the matter until November.
The Council action delaying a decision cam as Mahncke Park and the officers of its neighborhood association appeared to divide into two camps on the UIW proposal, with some suggesting a compromise deal with the neighboring university and others remaining staunchly opposed.
The Mahncke Park Neighborhood Association posted notice for a Wednesday evening meeting to reopen the discussion among officers and dues-paying residents, even after it had taken a position opposing the UIW proposal. City staff also opposes the conversion. The issue was covered in a story, “Parking Lot vs. Empty Lot,” posted here Thursday.
It appears MPNA representatives are now increasingly divided on the issue and unable to reach a consensus, with some officers willing to make a deal with UIW, while others continue to oppose the idea. Both camps had a number of representatives in Council chambers today when UIW officials quickly came and went after winning agreement to their surprise request.
MPNA Board President Mike Bartels produced an “agreement” with UIW that included a number of defined restrictions, conditions and statements of shared interest. The agreement carried the endorsement of four of the seven board members. Bartels had scheduled a “re-vote” before the Council meeting. However, when several of the board members wanted to change their votes, Bartels cancelled the special meeting for the re-vote and took their Sept. 11 votes to approve if UIW would meet conditions as endorsement.
The MPNA met anyway, with four board members calling a special General Membership meeting at 6:15 Wednesday night in Clover Lawn Park. While the by-laws prohibit an official meeting without the president and vice-president (chair and co-chair), Roberts Rules of Order say that a quorum can be called in an “emergency situation” without the chairs in attendance. Dee Barfield, general meeting coordinator for the board, said that’s what they did.
Thirty general members of the MPNA and four board members – Barfield, Julie Miller (board secretary), Gabriel Montoya (treasurer) and Sara Christensen – attended.
“We circulated a statement – signed by four board members – that we had not seen nor voted on the UIW Bartels agreement,” Barfield said. “A similar agreement was voted on at the Sept. 11 board meeting, but material changes were made after the board meeting. The UIW-Bartels agreement, with Mike Bartels’ signature, was submitted to the City Council early this morning.
“So last night, after researching Roberts Rules, it decided it was an emergency in that we have four directors against the zoning change proposal and the submitted agreement does not represent the true opinion of the MPNA board,” Barfield added.
Minutes of the special meeting are posted on the MPNA website. It now appears the MPNA will have ample opportunity to meet again on the matter, perhaps after UIW officials approach neighbors with new proposal of their own.
gary s. whitford is half of Extraordinary Words, a writing company. He lives and works in the Monticello Park neighborhood, and prefers to see his name in lower case letters.