Saturday, February 6, 2016

Arlington Commons Groundbreaking




Yesterday at 4:00 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Arlington Commons.  Now the removal of apartments and the improvement of the neighborhood was one of my campaign resolutions.  I promised that I would do something about the apartment problem in and around the Collins/Lamar Overlay.  This is my answer. 


I have worked closely with Bob Kembel, the Viridian developer, to insure that this project is a success, and that a quality product would be assured.  At one point the project was in severe jeopardy, and during and Executive Session of Council, the former Mayor and I had some words that were not pleasant.  The result of that exchange resulted in a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.  Another controversy of this project dealt with the narrowing of Lamar by one lane going west.  The picture below  is one of the original pictures that was shown to the citizens at the at the Apartment Town Hall Meeting at the Convention Center.  You can plainly see that the traffic going west on Lamar is depicted as one lane.  There is a linear park and also parking in front of the complex.  This lane reduction was also depicted in the original 380 agreement that was approved by Council unanimously.  At some point in the process the Thoroughfare Plan had to be amended to coincide with the 380 agreement.  That amendment occurred about two months ago. 





We have said all along that this investment in our community would spur other investment.  The mini center across the street from the complex has been purchased and redeveloped already.  The renovation is estimated at around $1 million, and new businesses are already opening their doors.  AISD will spend $7 million in redeveloping Roquemore Elementary School, into the Jimmy and Laura Jones Fine Arts Academy.  Parkway Central’s park will get a facelift, and a linear park will run down the middle of Lamar.  It is hard to believe that the metamorphosis is here.  But when you think back to the slums that were there just a year ago and what is about to happen, you have to be excited for North Arlington.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jimmy Bennett

Yesterday afternoon Jimmy came into my office and let me know that he had pulled his name from the May 7th ballot, and that he would not be seeking a fifth term in office.  Jimmy has served his city for the last eight years and done so with class and humility.  I consider Jimmy one of my closest friends on Council.  Someone who's door is always open, and no matter how elementary the question, he always treated you with respect and sincerity.

A position on Council is not the most rewarding of jobs.  It seems that no matter what position that you take, on any given subject, you are always 49% wrong.  The people that you represent on that side of the fence will let you know in no uncertain terms what they think of your position and the horse you rode in on.  Financially, there is no reward, so you do this for the sake of your community, with a servant's heart.  Jimmy epitomizes this virtue, in that all of his campaigns were run unpretentiously and a genuine respect for his opponent.   Jimmy's financial expertise has been something that Council has come to depend on.  He has served on our Economic Development Committee, Financial Committee and also as the Treasurer for the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon and part of the evening with Jimmy and we talked about his decision.  He feels that it is time for him to step down from his obligation and pass the baton to someone that has fresh ideas and a passion for community service that would compliment Council.  Personally it frees up time for a passion that he would like to pursue.  All in all Jimmy is in a good place with removing his name from the ballot.  His body of work has been beyond reproach.  He can be very proud of the legacy that he has left behind.  Adios buddy!  See you on the golf course and at the cigar shop. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Chick-fil-A Opening


Today I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Opening and ribbon cutting of the new Chick-fil-A on Collins Street.  This establishment is the largest Chick-fil-A in the Republic of Texas.  It is the third largest in the United States, and it is right here in North Arlington.  The proprietor is Ms. Carmenza Moreno, and she is simply a spectacular individual.  She is the first Hispanic female to own a Chick-fil-A franchise, and she has been so successful in her current location that she decided to expand rather than purchase another franchise.  Chick-fil-A corporate philosophy is based on Christian views and values.  All Chick-fil-A stores are closed on Sundays so that their employees can attend church and recognize the Sabbath.  Ms. Moreno is such a giving person that she takes this opportunity to allow charities to utilize her parking lot for events that are scheduled on Sundays when the store is closed.  Organizations such as the Lamar High School Band and Big Brothers and Big Sisters are among the charities that benefit from Ms. Moreno’s generosity. 

I would like to think that Carmenza’s Grand Opening, coupled with Champions Park and eventually Stadium View projects will continue investment in our community.   Events such as these will regenerate interest in the Collins corridor and make a significant contribution in revitalizing commerce in North Arlington.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016


Well it’s been about three weeks since I have posted on this blog.  Since that time the Christmas ornaments have been pulled out of storage and put back in.  I trust that you all have had a wonderful holiday season and now it is time to start the grind of a new year.  2016 will pose some challenges and hopefully some turnaround not only for our city but for our country as well. 

We will have a new president one way or another.  Politically it is shaping up to be a Presidential slugfest and it will be very interesting watching its evolution.  I will be seeking a third term as your representative in Arlington’s North District.  I have been blessed to have had the opportunity for the last four years to represent you.  In doing so, I have had the opportunity to participate on a Council that is dedicated to making Arlington a better place to live.  We set the table for General Motors to invest $1.4 Billion dollars into their Arlington plant.  We have approved investment around the Ballpark with $200 Million dedicated to Texas Live, a new hotel and convention center.  We have attracted the largest home builder in the country to build his headquarters here.  D. R. Horton chose North Arlington because of the attributes that we offer.  Our first Fortune 500 Company!     Three of the four apartment complexes are down and building will start on the Arlington Commons this month.  Another $200 Million investment in our community that will raise the property values for the surrounding home owners.  Across the street the strip mall is undergoing renovation in anticipation of increased business.  The new library will start construction in the first quarter of 2016, and across the street another $49 Million project, 101 Abram is moving along rapidly.

 Back up north Viridian continues to evolve with 600 lots either complete or under construction, and it will start construction on the commercial aspect of the community as the next step in its evolution.  Champions Park has started construction along Collins and will hopefully bring in quality retail and restaurants as a result of Greenway Associates efforts.  Across the street, the TXDOT property is still being shopped by Trammel Crow, and we hope that 2016 will bring a tenant forward to allow the building of a class A office space complex.  The MGM Grand is still on the horizon for 2016.  We have a timeline for this project and we will see if the developer has the horsepower to fill his financial obligations required by this timeline.  Ditto golf course will start its renovation, striving to make it a top tier quality course here in North Arlington. 

 I have also lead the charge in creating an Economic Development Corporation within the city.  This Corporation will be able to fund projects like the Senior Center and a Multi-Generational center.  Again the table has been set for the voters of Arlington.  The funding for the EDC will come from a ¼ cent sales tax increase.  That money will allow us to fund these projects.  Every other city in the Metroplex save one (Sachse) is operating at 8 ¼ cents sales tax.  This issue will be on the November ballot, and I ask you all to support it and allow Arlington to continue its growth and broaden its service to the community.

As you can see 2016 is shaping up to be a challenging year with remarkable opportunities.  I hope to be able to continue my participation in these challenges.  I will need your vote in May to give me that opportunity.  Thanks for your confidence.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ball Park Development



Now that this has been posted on the city website, it must be ok to talk about it, since these discussions were in executive session.  Glory Park was the original development planned for this area.  It folded when the financial institutions were challenged in 2008.  A developer arrived on the scene about 3 yrs. ago and his family owned company has been very successful at developing areas around major sports complexes.  He has formed an alliance with the Texas Rangers, and approached the city with a development plan that is very aggressive.  The picture above contains a 100,000 sq/ft of entertainment, restaurant and bar facility, a 50,000 sq/ft Convention Center, and a 300-400 room hotel. 
 


This development will be in front of the Council on the 15th of the month.  The entire project will cost $200 million, with the entertainment venue scheduled to open on opening day 2017.  You have asked for development in and around the Ball Park, and hopefully you will have it on Tuesday evening.  Our City Manager Trey Yelverton, and his Staff have been working feverishly to get this accomplished by the end of the year.


Several Councilmembers, including myself, have made the trip back to see the developer at his family owned headquarters.  A few have also made the trip up to St. Louis to look at a similar development called Ball Park View.  This is a first class establishment, owned and operated by people that have been successful in a host of other cities.  They are excited about Arlington and we are fortunate that they came to us.  Go Rangers!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving

I am very fortunate to have my son and his wife with us today on Thanksgiving.  We will have an opportunity to go to the Cowboy game today and be together as a family.  There is so much to be thankful for that I really don't know where to begin.  But I know that if I am thankful for the things that have been given to me, then I will be grateful for the other things that come my way. 


I hope that you are in a place in your life where you can reflect upon what has been provided to you and be thankful.  I know that life takes it's turns, and we just lost an extended family member this last week ourselves, but this is what the Lord had intended all along, and we pray that she is in a better place. 


I also wanted to be thankful for all of our men and women in uniform, who protect our liberties and freedoms, yet can't be with their family and loved ones on this Thanksgiving.  I wanted them to know just how important that I think they are, and how much I appreciate them and what they do.  I pray for their safe return to their loved ones and hope that they will be home for Christmas.  I guess it's hard to understand just how precious family is until you are on the other side of the world during the Holidays.  The Parker's are wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you are surrounded by your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finally a Senior Center on Pierce Birch


Yesterday in the afternoon session, Council finally made a decision to support a dedicated stand-alone Senior Center, or as some would prefer and Active Adult Center.  Now this didn’t come easy.  I would liken it to pulling molars.  But Lemuel Randolph, the Director of Parks and Recreation, was looking for direction on where and what to put on which piece of property.  The three properties were Pierce Birch off Green Oaks south of 303, Veterans Park on Arkansas, and Vandergriff Park along Center St..  Veterans Park was removed quickly because of size and access. 

I had to try and put two and two together and hopefully coming up with four.  It was decided through a brilliant display of deductive reasoning, that Council did in fact want a stand-alone Senior Center.  Due partly to the demographic results from the architects, it was decided that Pierce Birch would be the best and only site to accommodate a Senior Center.  Essentially Vandergriff was the only site to fit a Multi-Generational facility, due to its size and location.  So I simply stated that, “for the last 2 yrs. I have been trying to get support from this body for a stand-alone Senior Center.  Each of you has pledged your support to our seniors over this timeframe.   I am now asking for you to fill the void in our city services and provide 65,000 sq/ft of space in this 100 sq mile city, to programing a facility for our seniors.”  How could such eloquence go unnoticed?  I won’t go into the rest of my tirade, but essentially that got it done.  Mr. Randolph even got the message. 

I want to extend my gratitude to Elva Roy and the rest of the Ambassadors for Aging, for attending the afternoon meeting.  I can assure you that your presence was noticed, and you were the elephant in the room.  I would probably have been considered the Donkey, for lack of a better word.  Now we have our guidance and our land, and approval to commence design, all we need from here is money to fund the facilities.  Your persistence and participation will be required to pass a quarter cent sales tax in the Presidential Election in November 2016.