Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hugh Smith or Senior Center (2014 Bond Issue)

The time to determine the contents of the 2014 Bond Issue is at hand.  The Citizens Bond Committee has spoken and what they have determined through hours of diligent work is that the Bond Issue will be 193 million dollars.  In that 193 million, 133 will be for roads.  Of the 60 million that is left over, two large capital projects were selected to be accomplished.  1)  25 million for a recreation center in the southeast area of our city.  2)  25.3 million for a 67,000 sq/ft combination East Library and New Hugh Smith Recreation Center, in east Arlington.  This was the original plan for the Bond package until it got to Council.

When it got to Council, Jimmy Bennett proposed an additional year to the issue and the total increased to 242 million for a four year period.  The increase of 49 million will all go to roads, although this was not Jimmy’s plan.  So we still only have the original 60 million for capital projects.  One year ago I proposed a Senior Recreation Center to be constructed in the west or northwest, where majority of our seniors reside.  This center would be like the Summit over in Grand Prairie.  Right now we allow the YMCA’s to accommodate the need for our seniors at $30 per month.  I recognize this need and I’m trying to do something about it, but the Council needs your input.  So contact them.

My plan is to cancel one dead end road project at 5.4 million, cancel the energy efficient street light bulbs at 3.0 million and a parking lot renewal for River Legacy Park for 1.0 million.  If we do not move fire station one we can save another .4 million and take .3 away from the 25.3 for Hugh Smith and that would give us 10.2 million to knock down Hugh Smith and rebuild it to a size commensurate with it’s utilization.  The new library would go away until other funds could be located to add it to the construction project or we could partner with AISD as Dr. Cavazos has urged because they will be constructing a new library a couple of blocks down the road.

Then it would be my intention to take the 25 million and construct a 60,000 sq/ft Recreation Center for Adults that would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 per month for membership.  In the first year that the Summit was built, membership was 6,000.  It has been in existence for four years now and the membership has stabilized at 5,500.  It is a remarkably active and vibrant facility, and something that our seniors deserve.  In the last four years Euless, Grand Prairie and Irving have all met the need of their seniors by constructing Senior Centers. North Richland Hills has given the seniors lip service with their Multi-Generational Center.  Possible locations would be either a location central to downtown, Dottie Lynn area or Randol Mill Park.  With this location and the need of our seniors in Arlington, I would estimate memberships around the 8,000 level.  Please contact your City Council and let them know what Your desires are for this Bond Issue.    

Monday, July 21, 2014

Arlington Commons

It has been a little time since my last post for a couple of reasons.  1)  The Council is on vacation and doesn’t meet during the month of July, 2)  I have been on vacation for the last two weeks out of the country.  But as soon as I returned I had to find out what was going on with out apartment project on Lamar and report any progress.

I met with Bob Kembel this afternoon and got a one on one concerning his progress.  The asbestos abatement team showed up today and the long process of dismantling Huntington Chase has begun.  Each piece has to be removed, bagged, have Kembel’s name on it and placed in a special landfill.  This process will require that the demo of Huntington Chase take about 45 days and that is the bad news.  The good news is that the relocation of residents is ahead of schedule.  There is only one apartment that will require eviction in Huntington Chase and they will be gone on 1 August.  The Pointe and Country Wood will have their residents relocated by the end of August.  There is more asbestos in the stucco of the Pointe, so that will take even longer to get to the dozers.  All in all, construction will be moved back 90 days to the end of March.  Progress is slower than anticipated but the relocation process is running ahead of schedule.  Some additional news that I just received is that Mr. Kembel originally planned this project in the $160 to $178 million range and because of the upgrades and increased quality of the materials it is well over $200 million.   I have seen the architect's renderings and the project is extremely nice.  This will be a quality addition and redefine this neighborhood.

The Arlington Commons project is moving ahead and I’m positive that you will be pleased with the result, once Phase I is complete.

On a completely different subject:  The Mayor had a hip replacement this morning and is resting comfortably.  The operation was a remarkable success and we look forward to him getting up and around in the very near future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ditto and TXDOT

Yesterday was very interesting and some things happened that you might not be aware of, so I will try to explain on this blog.  The afternoon session was of particular interest because some posturing was accomplished that was at my district’s expense.  Two weeks ago Jimmy Bennett suggested that the City’s Bond package should be extended from 4 yrs. to 5 yrs.  This was an effort to increase money available for roads and also to include an additional 12 million for the redevelopment of Ditto Golf Course.  Now I brought out that the city enjoyed over 140,000 rounds of golf last year.  46,000 were played at Ditto and 36,000 were played a Terra Verde.  Golf Advocate Magazine rates Terra Verde as the 7th best course in the Metro Plex, and the Texas Star course in Euless as 4th, while Ditto is ranked 42nd.  The expenditure of 16 million, 8 for the course and 8 for the clubhouse/banquet facility, would allow for tournaments to recoup our expenses while bringing the course up to top 5 status.  Then Ditto was dropped from the bond package alltogether, in exchange for more roads.  But I was assured that financing would come from elsewhere, and that this project would be funded because it is shovel ready.  This is yet to be confirmed, although people are working in earnest.  I will explain as much as I can this evening at the Ditto Citizens meeting starting at 6:30 at Sherrod Elementary.

The second thing of interest was the fact that the city started the process of purchasing the TXDOT property at the northwest corner of I-30 and Collins.  This property has been held by TXDOT for decades and they have finally decided to remove it from their property roles.  The City feels that this property is premiere and something very special should occupy that space, and we are proposing a simple land for cash exchange.  The City would like to entice businesses to invest in the land north of I-30, alluring people to come early and stay late.  This concept will require business offices, and leisure commercial establishments to coexist.  Once this transaction is complete and the land is wrestled from the state, we expect to be approached by developers of every level, hawking concepts from apartments to missile silos.  That is why it is important for the City to be able to control what establishments go on this property and the extent of their quality.  I am very excited for the North because TXDOT is finally on the move, and something good is going to happen there.  Call me an optimist.

Oh, and just as a side note, this site has gone over 31,000 views in a year and a half. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Narrowing Abrams St.

The narrowing of Abrams St. has been in the minds of the Downtown Arlington movement for several years.  It has to do with a term called “walk ability,” and making downtown a “destination.”  But the reality of the situation is that the Downtown movement only wants “walk ability” as it pertains to the government building area of downtown.  When it impacts businesses, they want “on street parking.”  So which is it to be, “walk ability or on street parking.”  Therefore, I see the argument as being a bit disingenuous. 

Now staff has done some great work when you add the information that was received through an independent study.  The study went to the effort of taking a look at the delays that would occur if the street were narrowed to three or four lanes.  The study’s conclusion was that four lanes, without dedicated left turn lanes, would take longer to transit than the three lane option with a dedicated left turn lane.  They are the pros and I am just a recipient of the study’s information.  As an engineering student I realize that passing any element through an aperture, water, sand, nuts and bolts or traffic, depends on the size of the aperture.  If an orifice is 4inches wide it should take 25% less time to pour a gallon of water through, than if the aperture is 3 inches wide.  Therefore, if lanes are 10 ft. wide, it should take less time to pass the same amount of traffic through a 40 ft. orifice than a 30 ft. orifice, even with traffic turning left without dedicated lanes.  That is simply physics applied to a common solution.  So I don’t buy the fact that a four lane scenario will take longer to transit than three lanes. 

Now let’s take a look at the problem as it applies to the situation.  I have walked the streets and looked first hand at the area in question.  I have noted that the setbacks on the north side of the street are significant enough to put pavers in and enjoy walk ability/the destination of downtown.  The problem is the south side of the street.  If we took out the center, or fifth lane, it would allow another 10 ft. that could be added to the sidewalk on the south side to increase the “walk ability” aspect and still have 40 ft. for traffic to transit.  But the study shows that this is the scenario that will cause the longest delays to transit. (Discussed above)  So this is the dilemma as I see it, and reasoning behind my decision to select the four lane option.  I think that drivers are people too and they pay just as much taxes as pedestrians.  Therefore, I will vote for the four lane option.     

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Council Meeting 10 June

Just a few notes concerning yesterday’s Council meeting.  During the afternoon session a poll was taken of the Council concerning the narrowing of Abrams street.  Throughout this exercise I have noted a definite bias toward narrowing Abrams to three lanes.  It had been stated that the four lane option was going to be the slowest option due to traffic turning without designated left turn lanes.  Sorry but my engineering background simply couldn’t shake this statement because it defies every law of physics known to man.  I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that having a larger aperture would slow down the flow of anything.  Also, when given the presentation, the four lane option was void of any streetscape like the other two options.  Kinda like those commercials that are in black and white until you own the product, then everything is in color.  So I felt that I was being steered into a certain mindset.  I was the only dissenting vote. 

In the evening session, I was also the only dissenting vote concerning extending the Linebarger contract for another three years.  Linebarger has been the company that the city has employed to collect our delinquent taxes for the last six years.  My reasoning was that I felt that a healthy competition was in order combined with an audit of past accounts.  It would give us a clearer picture of the account and its status.  I requested numbers about the Purdue firm but staff did not provide an apple much less an orange to compare the two companies.  Therefore, not having the proper information, I was not in support of extending the contract on the faith of them doing a good job, in the future.

Of the most interest was the issuing of bonds for the new library, Council chamber, and Center St. Bridge.  This was the most important vote of the evening and I think the best utilization of city funds.  You have to remember that the other options were 40 and 30 million dollars to rebuild on the existing property.  This is a twenty million dollar project with a public private building being built on the old site.  This other building will return the property to the city tax rolls also.   For some reason Councilman Rivera abstained from the four votes taken on this subject.  There was also a resolution voted on relating to a public/private interest concering a new building where the old library stands.  I supported all these votes because I feel that it was the best utilization of citizen’s monies and showed fiscal improvement over the other options considered for the new library.

All in all I think it was a good night for the City of Arlington.  Oh, and I was designated as the new Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.  Maybe not a great night for Arlington after all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Open Carry?

I might as well weigh in on the topic of open carry. Through the military and governmental shooting courses and Command and Staff War College courses I have been taught a few things about tactics.  But one of the simplest concepts to grasp in this discussion is that concealment of firepower is extremely important.  If it wasn’t then why would the Department of Defense spend billions of dollars each year on camouflage?  Concealment is the tenant that gave you the Constitution, to include the Second Amendment.  What?  Parker you’re nuts!

Let’s take a step back in time to the Revolutionary War, where the rag tag Continental Army with inferior firepower went up against the most powerful force in the world, the British Army.  The British Army practiced open carry.  They would grab their rifles, put on their red coats, and line up in the streets in a show of force and march down the road.  They were confronted continually by the Continental Army that were concealed at various junctures along their path.  The author of the Art of War, Sun Tsu stated, “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”  Through this tactic the Constitution and the Second Amendment were born. 

Over the course of history there have been several instances where the concealment of firepower by inferior forces has overcome the odds and prevailed.  General George Armstrong Custer is another example of open carry that just didn’t work out.  Sitting Bulll and Crazy Horse used another tactic of Sun Tsu’s without their knowledge.  They used a village of squaws and children to draw Custer to attack at that point.  Knowing he would attack at that point they waited.  “All warfare is based on deception.”  How can you deceive anyone by showing all your cards at once?  Surprise is essential to victory! 

So let’s take an active shooting situation by today’s standards.  In threat analysis, you accomplish three things as rapidly as possible.  1)  Define the threat.  2)  Neutralize the threat.  3)  Move to the next threat.  If in a shooting scenario an individual is brandishing a firearm, he is a threat.  Open carry doesn’t consider concealed carry as a threat, simply because he doesn’t have the knowledge of
another firearm in his presence.  Concealed carry neutralizes open carry at the moment of his choosing simply because open carry does not have the information to formulate a complete situational scenario and “define the threat.”  Concealed carry moves to the next threat. 

I will leave you with this last thought.  Deception or concealment is essential to effect surprise.  The utilization of these tenants are more likely to secure victory.  Brandishing a firearm, (open carry) tactically speaking is a mistake that renders undesirable consequences.  But don’t take my word for it, ask Sun Tsu, George Washington and Custer.