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LAKE JACKSON — The city will likely formally abandon an alley that it doesn’t maintain after a request from Dairy Bar’s owner.

The alley in question is about 6 feet wide and sits behind the almost 70-year-old burger restaurant at 202 Plantation Drive, owner Mary Harnden said. It used to attract young wanderers, but now mainly collects trash and water, she told City Council at its meeting Monday.

She requested the city formally abandon the alley so Dairy Bar could have permission to clean it up, move its fence back and use the extra space.

Harnden only requested control over the alley behind her business and the empty lot next door, but the unused alley stretches all the way from Sycamore Street to North Shady Oaks Street, City Engineer Sal Aguirre said.

The city inherited the alleyway when it annexed the neighborhood in 1951 because the original plat included it, Aguirre said.

“In the 41 years I’ve been here, it has never been utilized for any purpose,” he said.

Harnden has spoken with the neighbors behind her property and they are OK with her gaining control of the alley, she said. She does not plan to do anything to affect the drainage in the area, but just clean the land so it will not hold as much water, she said.

She is considering selling some of her property to another nearby business, but wants to have control of that sliver of land, Harnden said.

Councilman Buster Buell made a motion to initiate the process to grant Harnden control of that alleyway.

Councilman Vinay Singhania was the only council member to vote against the motion and said he wished to examine the entire alleyway, not just the portion adjacent to Dairy Bar portion.

The process initiated by the motion will create an ordinance that requiring council to approve two readings of before the legal transfer of property, Aguirre said.

It is best to do this process in two phases, so Harnden can clean up the property, move her fence and then the city can look into abandoning the whole alley, City Manager Bill Yenne said.

Staff need to examine the physical condition of the land and consult all the parties involved for the rest of the alleyway, Aguirre said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Singhania requested a regular agenda item so council members can update the entire council on the business of boards and commissions on which they serve as liaisons. This would include the Senior Citizens Commission, Keep Lake Jackson Beautiful and numerous other groups.

This would be OK, but council members would not be allowed to go into a discussion about their reports, City Attorney Sherri Russell said.

That would be another agenda item if needed anyway, Singhania said, adding he just wants a designated time to give liaison reports.

The council had this agenda item in the past but it morphed into part of the “community interest” item because there often was nothing to report, Councilman Gerald Roznovsky said.

Those reports can still be given during the community interest item, Russell said.

Resident Glen Jones addressed the council and said that deems the reports unimportant.

“I think that you sell short the whole system,” Jones said. “You ought to go to your deal or send a substitute and stay long enough to find out what’s going on.”

There often was nothing to report in the past because council members were not attending meetings as they were supposed to, Jones said.

He suggested they put that item back on every agenda, let everyone share their reports and let everyone else say “OK.”

The council agreed that was Singhania’s reason for requesting the agenda item.

“These boards and commissions are important,” Yenne said.

This could give accountability back to the council through these reports, which adds to the validity of what the participants are doing, he said.

Singhania made the motion to regularly place board and commission reports back on the council agenda and the council voted unanimously for it.

Maddy McCarty is assistant managing editor for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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