For the first time ever the council’s Work Session was video taped Monday evening (August 15) as the council gathered in chambers for a special meeting covering three (3) important topics: A non-profit grant application for the Legacy Foundation, a review of the Addison Grove Incentive Funding and an update on the Midway Road Reconstruction Project.
The primary purpose of this special meeting was to inform all council members of the Legacy Foundation grant application and to update new council members on the other two items so the whole council would be up to speed with the same information in order to move forward with future decisions on these very substantive issues. Unfortunately there will still have to be some updating for one council member since Al Angell didn’t attend the meeting.
Debra Morgan, who has led the volunteer efforts for a concept to connect east and west Addison, made a very detailed and professional presentation to the council complete with enlarged photos and a scaled model, which was passed along to each council member. The “Big Idea” concept envisions an east/west public park spanning both sides of Beltline and the Tollway, that would be similar to Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park.
Morgan explained that the committee has submitted an application for consideration to the Town through the Non-Profit Assistance Application process. The $100,000.00 request amount would be for fiscal year 2017 and would be used for schematic/design services, ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) costs, and an Economic Impact Study and. The grant would be distributed through The Legacy Foundation.
According to Morgan, this project would not only improve pedestrian accessibility to Addison’s dining, entertainment and public park facilities but would be an economic plus for the entire area. And, as Morgan explained, the basic concept is not a new idea as bringing the two sides of Addison together was explored by the council back in 2012. The Foundation is now taking steps to move past the idea stage by exploring the costs and economic impact that this project might provide. At this time it’s up to the council to determine—do we want to move it forward or not?
View the entire presentation at: http://addisontx.swagit.com/play/08152016-981
Funding for the Addison Grove Incentive Agreement
Economic Development Director Orlando Compos and Interim CFO Scott Neils presented the same presentation that had been presented to the former council on April 26, 2016. Council was once again reminded that this funding is actually a reimbursement to be paid upon successful completion of construction milestones. The payment terms for reimbursement include:
- 1/3 of total potential award upon successful completion of public infrastructure and acceptance by the Town of Addison.
- 1/3 of the total potential award upon completion of 40 percent of the townhomes/live-work units.
- 1/3 of the total potential award upon completion of 75 percent of the townhomes/live-work units.
Discussion Turns Lively Re: Midway Road
As has been reported previously, as part of a 2012 bond package $16M was included for the estimated cost of reconstruction on Midway Road from Keller Springs to Spring Valley. Unfortunately that estimate falls way short of the actual current estimate of $38M, leaving the Town $22M short.
Jason Shroyer, Assistant Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services made the presentation, advising the council that Midway Road’s last rebuild was done in the 1970’s, thus it had certainly outlived its expected life. He noted that today 40,000 to 45,000 vehicles a day travel Midway and 7 to 10 percent of that traffic consists of heavy trucks—all of this creating tremendous wear and tear.
Unfortunately it is difficult to understand why the project was so underbid because the only documentation available to the current staff is that which exists in the bond language and information in a letter sent to all voters regarding the bond. Despite the fact that the die is cast, so to speak, it would be valuable to know what information was used to determine that estimate—if nothing more than to ensure that similar miscalculations are not made on any future such projects and to bring total transparency to the taxpayers who are now faced with the $22M shortfall.
A Possible Way to Gain Insight
To that regard the mayor made an open invitation to former City Manager Ron Whitehead and the Assistant City Manager Lea Dunn, whom Whitehead had given infrastructure duties to at the time, inviting them to advise council and citizens how the $16M estimate was arrived at. In doing so they could also answer questions from council members that would lay to rest current questions and be helpful in determining future such estimates. Therein began council conflict.
Bruce Arfsten disagreed vehemently, noting that what was done in the past made no difference today. “It’s not important,” he said. “We need to proceed and move forward.” Ivan Hughes disagreed with Arfsten, explaining that when there were questions about the original estimates for the Belt Line Road undergrounding Lea Dunn gave an explanation and answered questions in an August 2014 Town Hall meeting and residents seemed to be very appreciative of hearing from her. Meier agreed recalling the value of Dunn having candidly responding as she had.
“We should at least ask,” Hughes continued. “It doesn’t change anything,” Duffy injected, but Meier said, “It does give him (Whitehead) the opportunity to explain.”
Dale Wilcox said the whole thing reminded him of the game Whackamole and that it made him think that an evaluation of the condition of all the streets needs to be made. “I’m afraid we’re going to be facing some major infrastructure costs and we’re going to be blindsided.”
Ignoring the consideration to have Whitehead or Dunn address the council, Walden suggested concrete costs are higher today and “that might be a big piece of it right there.” He also questioned what an overlay would do—“What does that buy us re time?” he asked. Shroyer responded that he had asked that very question of the engineers. “The look on their face was not good,” he said. “They’ll ball park it in the 2-3 years.”
Little was resolved about how to move forward and the discussion ended with an open invitation extended to Ron Whitehead or Lea Dunn to share their recollections with the council and citizens and for the staff to bring to the council some options to consider, including what would be wasted by delaying. Hughes added that he’d also like to have staff’s recommendations tie to the Master Transportation Plan.
Stay tuned. Will Whitehead or Dunn respond to the open invitation so that council and citizens have a better understanding of the current shortfall? Will the Midway Road Reconstruction Project move forward? And, will Farmers Branch, which owns the curbside lanes of Midway Road, assume any financial responsibility and contribute for their part?
Watch the entire discussion at: http://addisontx.swagit.com/play/08152016-981
Tonight. Thursday, August 18. After Hours with the Mayor @ the Sidewalk Café in Addison Circle.
Tuesday, August 23. 7 p.m. City Council Meeting.
Thursday, August 25, 6:30 p.m. DART community meeting regarding the Cotton Belt. Addison Conference Center.
Saturday, August 27. 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Coffee with a Cop @ Dunn Bros. Coffee on Beltline.
Photo of The Legacy Foundation courtesy of The Town of Addison
The Facts Matter website is made possible through the generous donations from Angels of Addison. To join their ranks in supporting Facts Matter and responsible citizen journalism, contact us.