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Ask the Mayor
Thank you for visiting the "Ask the Mayor" web page. This is your chance to ask the Mayor of the City of Tyler, Martin Heines, a question and see his response posted to this page.

Simply enter your question in the form to the right and a response from the Mayor will be posted in the section below.*

*The City of Tyler reserves the right to summarize duplicate questions, edit questions or not post questions that are inflammatory in nature. Submissions that are suggestions will be reviewed and sent to the appropriate department for consideration but will not be posted to this page. Some technical questions will be referred to the appropriate department for information to formulate responses.
Questions for the Mayor

Question: Why don't we have more sidewalks in Tyler?
This is a matter we take very seriously here at the City as evidenced by the significant time and money expended on both planning and construction of sidewalks in recent years. We look forward to the day when a complete network of facilities are in place - but funding is always a limiting factor. Currently, we have an annual budget of $50,000 for miscellaneous sidewalk improvements, and over $2.2 million in grant and local match funds planned for construction. These monies will be used to extend public sidewalks throughout the community over the next two years.

We are also in the process of applying for an additional grant that, if awarded, would allow for the construction of Legacy Trails. This is a compilation of over 5.5 miles of off-street trails identified in the Regional Trail Plan (see link below) and would connect the Grande/Old Jacksonville area with Faulkner Park and with Gresham. 

Link to Special Studies including, Pedestrian Access Study and Regional Trail Plan.

Also, sidewalks are required to be constructed for all new development and substantial redevelopment. Developers are required to connect sidewalks to existing adjacent sidewalks and must connect them to parking areas and primary building entrances on non-residential (commercial) properties. When done in conjunction with a new development, the developer must install sidewalks along both sides of streets having a right-of-way width equal to or greater than 50 feet which is most residential streets. Sidewalks are not required within cul-de-sacs unless it would be needed to provide pedestrian access to parks, greenways, or commercial areas.

Question:  Why are there so many potholes lately?
Over the last couple of months the inclement weather has taken a toll on our roadways – both because of the damage the rain does to the street surface and subsurface, but also due to impact on the availability of asphalt and the ability to make repairs in rainy conditions.

Below are a few facts that may help highlight the situation and what we are doing to address it. 
• The roads that we have received most of our complaints about are actually the property of TXDot and are not the responsibility of the City of Tyler to maintain. As we are receiving these complaints, we are forwarding them to this state agency. Because they are within the city limits, most residents mistakenly assume that they are the responsibility of the City of Tyler.
• For many of these TXDot roadways that were particularly bad, we have made the needed repairs on their behalf to better serve our customers – the citizens of Tyler.
• Because of wet conditions, the product we need to patch the roads was not available locally. Our staff has been driving to Longview to get a special mix so that we can do some patching.
• We have had a special crew working on Saturdays and Sundays to make sure our main thoroughfares are patched.
• We have been utilizing our new milling machine to repair potholes with a more permanent fix.
• The continued rains have hampered the process of making permanent repairs because needed asphalt is not available.

Please know that we are working diligently to make needed repairs as weather permits and as the availability of asphalt is improved.

Question: How do I report a street light outage?
Street lights are maintained by Oncor Electric.  To report the outage to them, please visit:

Question: Please reconvene the Homeless Roundtable.
I wanted to share with you that the work of the Homeless Roundtable has never ceased. Although we have not had a formal meeting of the membership recently, we have been in communication with the members, have had meetings with individual members, and have continued work to address the issues identified in the original plan. We have also participated in the Human Needs Network meetings, which is also addressing the needs of the homeless in our community.

The purpose of convening the original Roundtable was to develop relationships with stakeholders in the community who are working on these issues, to identify existing resources, and to develop a plan of action that we could all share. This was completed.

We have had some remarkable progress since the adoption of the plan, including the opening of Gateway to Hope due to the City donating the building and land for the center and the work of many others to renovate the facility and develop programming for those in need. Our Police Department has played an ongoing role at Gateway by providing identification for those who need it to find a job. We have also applied for funding for a project for homeless veterans (unfortunately it was not funded), and have successfully supported multiple tax credit projects for low income housing in Tyler. Our Neighborhood Services Department has also continued their efforts that address providing housing for those in the most jeopardy of becoming homeless, including rental assistance, credit counseling, emergency repairs, and building affordable houses for sale to low income individuals. They have also partnered with Habitat and PATH by providing land and funds for construction of affordable housing. The City also partnered with the Public Health District to open a neighborhood health center in West Tyler (as health issues often lead to job loss and homelessness) and have helped fund another health clinic in North Tyler with UT Health Northeast. Additionally, we have provided incentives on several new projects to bring jobs to Tyler to provide opportunities for those seeking employment. Examples this year include Centene, Tazo Pronto and the new 700,000 square foot mall under construction.

There is still much work to be done. Last week we met with a subgroup of the Homeless Roundtable to discuss the residents of tent city. We also met with Salvation Army to ensure that these specific people are able to access shelter at that facility. They are. Although this is not a long term solution, please know that these fellow citizens of Tyler do have a place to seek shelter and will not be turned away. Additionally, we have a follow up meeting with another subgroup today to further discuss this subject.

Resolving homelessness in our country is a very complex issue and will take each of us working together to find solutions to the myriad of issues faced by this at-risk population. Whether it be jobs, transitional housing, skills training, mental health counseling, transportation or a variety of other root causes, we will continue to work with the community to care for our brothers and sisters.

Why are there not sidewalks in all areas of Tyler.
Answer:  The Pedestrian Access Study performed through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in 2010 showed the need for improved pedestrian facilities around the City of Tyler.  The City of Tyler has taken a proactive approach in utilizing funds to construct sidewalks on numerous roadways around town.  Our current project will come to a close in February and nearly $1.5M was spent on new/improved pedestrian routes.  These funds addressed the top eleven sites in the study.  In addition, the City of Tyler has applied for grant funds through TxDOT to proceed with the next eleven sites in the study.  This next program will construct approximately 7.4 miles of five-foot wide sidewalks.

Question: When will the City begin permitting stores to sell alcohol?
Answer: The City will not actually issue the permit. The TABC issues it. The City is one step in that process. On Nov. 19 the City Council will canvas the election results and businesses can begin the permitting process at that point.

Question: Why is there only one library in the entire city? There really needs to be one on the south side of town?
Answer: The current building was opened in 1980 as the successor to the original Carnegie Library building and was placed in the downtown area based on its central location and a long-term commitment to a strong city center. Although branch facilities have been considered in intervening years, the cost-effectiveness of stocking and staffing such locations has not been considered financially feasible. Also, the Library offers E-Books as an alternative. The City transit system has a stop very nearby the library and travel time by personal vehicle is not as difficult as it would be in a city with a larger layout.

Question: Is the City CNG station open to the public?
Answer: At this time, the City is conducting a pilot program to evaluate the benefits of expanding the use of CNG in our fleet. Therefore the facility we established at our Vehicle Services site is only for these vehicles. However, our long range plans do include a public private partnership to build a public station.

Question: How do I access Council Meeting videos online?
Answer: The direct link is: You can always find it in one of a couple of places:
-There is a Council Online icon link on the lower right hand side of our home page on our website.
-There is a link to Watch a Council Meeting on the "I want to" drop down menu on the top of our home page. (It is pretty far down)
-There is a link on the top of the page where the city council agendas are posted also (under the "government" drop down menu).

Question: How much longer will you be the Mayor?
Answer: I have served two, two-year terms as Mayor. My current term ends this May. I am permitted to serve a total of three consecutive terms, if elected by the citizens of Tyler. I am running for Mayor in the election to be held in May. Update: The Mayor is unopposed this election - so will be serving as the Mayor for a third term beginning in May 2012.

Question: I teach here at Lee High School. The traffic department recently re-striped the intersection of Donnybrook and the Loop on our Northeast corner. I see a potential for major problems with the current set-up.
Answer: The original lane configurations have been restored.

Throughout the recent fires, I hear that there's been some grief from the City of Tyler helping our County Fire Departments. Why would there be grief in helping our fellow partners? Why would there be a question as to not receiving the much needed help here?
Answer: I have discussed your comments with both the Fire Chief and the City Manager. We are all perplexed as to the source of your perception of "some grief" - as nothing could be further from the truth. The City of Tyler Fire Department has, to our knowledge, never declined a request for assistance from the County. Additionally, we have dedicated extensive resources to fighting the recent wildfires outside the City limits. I hope this information clears up any misconception about our commitment to assisting our neighbors in need. We appreciate you sharing your concerns with the Mayor and encourage you to continue to do so.

Why are the fire hydrants open and spurting water sometimes?
The running hydrants that you are seeing are part of the management of our water system to maintain the highest quality water as possible. The State mandates that we flush our system and we do this by opening hydrants. Particularly in the hot summer months, flushing the 520 miles of water mains helps to maintain chlorine levels and overall water quality.

Along with many other Tyler citizens...I don't agree with allowing DD's to open next to Lee HS. I understand that the company that owns El Chico also owns DD's and so a new permit was not required? DD's is using SEX to sell food! and our teens from Lee are going to be going there thinking that's funny looking at the girls serving them barely clothed! We have no Hooters in Tyler and we don't want a DD's here either! Moral decay is a huge reason for our society's decline!Please do something against this!
Answer: We have received a permit request for renovation at the location you referenced. This is not a zoning change, so it does not go before the Planning and Zoning Board or the City Council. It is simply a building permit. We are not able to legally deny a building permit if the applicant meets all development regulations and state laws. Our understanding at this time is that the business in question is not considered a SOB (sexually oriented business) and therefore, is not breaking any city ordinances. Also, the City does not regulate liquor licenses – rather the TABC does. We are investigating whether the location will be in violation of any laws given its proximity to the high school.  We will continue to monitor the situation as our scope of jurisdiction permits.

Why doesn't the City stop using the flashing yellow arrows after the crash that killed a motorcyclist recently? No other city uses them. Is it about money?
There are several points that I would like to share in regard to your comments.
-The Tyler Police Chief has reported that the investigation has revealed that the traffic signal had no bearing on the accident. The driver understood what she was supposed to do at the signal. She yielded, looked for oncoming traffic, and upon seeing none, proceeded through the intersection. Unfortunately, she simply did not see the motorcycle who had the right of way. The result would not have been any different if the signal had been a permissive green ball, which is what the flashing yellow arrows replaced.

-Many other cities are utilizing this signal type. Cities such as San Antonio, Garland, Irving, Plano, Richardson, Houston, Waco, etc. have begun installing the Flashing Yellow Arrow signals because a seven year Federal study showed them to be ultimately safer than a traditional permissive green ball and traffic progression is improved through their use. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (the industry-wide regulatory handbook) lists this signal type and the state equivalent will be adding this in the next version.
-Locally, we have gathered data on the first 14 of our signals that we converted. The data shows that not only have the number of crashes not increased, but they have actually decreased by 8%. Before we had flashing yellow arrows, we had t-bone crashes that resulted from a failure to yield the right-of-way. We feel that the new signals have improved the situation; however, drivers must still exercise caution and look for oncoming traffic before turning left.

-Tyler has gone beyond the requirements of the national guidelines and installed a sign at each intersection with a FYA that guides the drivers in understanding them.

Please be assured that choosing to cease use of the signals has absolutely nothing to do with financial considerations. We simply believe, given the data and facts available to us, that they are safer than a permissive green ball and assist in managing the traffic flow through the city.

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