Thursday, November 29, 2012


Tonight was the opening of this years Christkindl Christmas Fair.  Last year it only ran for 4 days, but due totally to last years success it is now open for 17 days.  Essentially this is an extention of the Christkindl Fair in Munich, Germany.  The effort to bring this celebration to Arlington has been brought about from an idea that Sheri Capehart had in her experience with our sister city in Germany.  It is a lovely festival located on the north side of "The Ballpark at Arlington,"on the Road to Six Flags.  There is shopping for unique items that are made in Germany and then there are some local venders also.  The food and drink are worth the trip alone.  And if there is a little one, that needs their picture taken with Santa, a builder at Viridian has constructed a Santa House that is beautifully apointed and fills that square nicely. 

My wife and I, after eating of course, went shopping down the mall and found some ornaments that were handmade, and therefore not cheap, but will make wonderful gifts for our grown kids.  My wife found the perfect wrapping paper for a friends birthday and of course some Christmas paper for our gifts this year.  Lastly, a great gift possibility for our daughter.  There was music throughout the night, and old friends to talk to.  Entertainment is scheduled throughout the evening for the next 17 days.  I think that if you want to eat, drink, shop or browse it will be time well spent.  My suggestion is to enjoy the fair and get into the spirit of Christmas.   

Monday, November 26, 2012


I can only hope that each of you had a great Thanksgiving.  Now that the turkey carcass has hit the curb and been taken away, it is now time to think about the next big event, which is the celebration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commonly known as Christmas.  That's right Christmas, not the Holiday Season.  This is going to be the only post concerning this topic.  But I have this feeling that, as a nation, our moral fabric is being challenged. 

This country was founded on Christian values.  The founding fathers in the first Continental Congress were mostly ordained ministers in some capacity.  It was during this time that the Bill of Rights or the first 10 amendments to the Constitution was established.  The inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness were written down.  The fact that the Creator made all men equal was established by law in this country.  And the simple statement of "In God We Trust" was put on our currency.  Now the new dollar coin that is being minted has "In God We Trust" removed.  The simple fact that marriage isn't between a man and a woman is being challenged in several states. There is an element in our society that is working to dispel our iintrinsic values.

But Christmas is a time of celebration, not a point of contention.  It is intended to be a time of year that people come together and give to help their fellow man/woman.  Not go to court to remove nativity scenes.  Each year I search for the spirit of Christmas, and most years I find it.  When it does finally hit me, I am humbled by its goodness, I am grateful for the experience, and lastly I am appreciative for those away from home preserving our way of life.  So please take the time this Christmas to seek out the Christmas Spirit and accomplish an act of kindness toward your fellow man/woman.  Put the meaning back in our country of "In God We Trust."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Union Pacific Track Replacement

The Union Pacific Rail Road will start replacing the north track starting from west to east.  They will reach the city limits of Arlington on January 16th and finish the project on the 24th.  Bowen, Davis, Cooper, Center and Mesquite will all be closed at one time.  Collins, Stadium and Great Southwest will also require closing.  However Union Pacific has indicated that they will make special provisions to reopen Bowen and Davis prior to closing Collins and Stadium.  Once closed all streets will remain closed approximately 4-5 days.  Due to the width of Cooper, it will be closed for 7-8 days.  Green Oaks, Forest Edge, Fielder, West and 360 will serve as detour routes during the project.

Essentially UP will be removing all ties and gravel beds.  They will be installing concrete ties, a new gravel bed and new rail.  During this project regular train schedules will use the south track.  City Staff is working with UP and their traffic control contractor, RoadSafe Traffic Systems, to minimize the impact on the City and its traffic congestion.  Hey I'm just the messenger here.  They didn't ask me.

Since we are talking Rail Road, let's discuss the below grade crossing at Stadium.  If you aren't up on this issue, then let me summarize.  The initial estimate for a sub grade crossing (going under the track) was $15 million.  It ballooned to $20 million shortly thereafter.  Then UP stated that they wanted to be able to add a 3rd and possibly a 4th track for future expansion.  That, and apparently some Federal requirements that weren't taken into consideration on the initial bid increased the cost to $35 million.  Right now we are in the educational phase of the process.  I asked the question why did we pick Stadium Way to invest in?  Why not Collins or something with more traffic and a bigger benefit to the traffic/train problem?  The answer was that, there isn't enough room between Abrams and Division to make the grade passable on Collins.  They would have to move the intersections at both Division and Abrams.  Now I understand that trains are a problem in Arlington.  There are about 30 of them a day and they cause havoc in our north/south traffic.  But when you consider the amount of money it would cost to drive under a track when 360 is less than a mile away, then I question the civic value of the project.  The jury is still out and I need much more information on this issue. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

College Park District

Last night was really a special evening.  It was the dedication of the new College Park District.  This project was concieved and finished in a five year period.  Mr. John Hall was the operations and hands on planning guru for the project.  I believe that some 300 million dollars was put into the project and it has just turned out beautifully.  The city provided 18 million for the parking garage.  First Baptist donated some land to make the deal complete.  It allows students the opportunity to have more of an On Campus experience instead of a Commuter Experience that has prevailed at UTA for some years.  Numerous donors were recognized and the finishing product is one that everyone in Arlington can be proud of.  After the dedication and the reception that followed, the crowd went over to listen to Seth Meyers at the College Park Center.

Seth Meyers has been with Saturday Night Live for many years and is part of the UTA speakers program for this year.  His standup routine is one that is entertaining and up to date concerning the current events that our nation is experiencing.  All in all a great evening of entertainment and a remarkable night for the city of Arlington.

Today is Council Day and I have Committee meetings and other obligations throughout the day.  I will report what I can on a new entry tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sapphire Project

There has been considerable concern about the apartment project down by UTA.  This project has been termed the Sapphire project.  The apartments will sit between Center and Mesquite and be bordered on the north by Mitchell and on the south by Hosack.  Now the project itself was approved in December of last year.  The developer came to the city and asked for a tax abatement of 2.1 million dollars of a 5 year period.  During this abatement time frame they would receive three times the current tax, or $21,000 a year.  I was asked by one individual, why are you considering this.  The following is my reasoning.

First I feel that the current apartments that occupy this entire city block are in such sad shape that the city is only getting $7,000 a year in total tax revenue.  The taxes on my house alone are $7,500.  So I feel that this property is ripe for redevelopment. During the abatement period the city will receive $105,000 instead of the current $35,000, which is a good deal for the city.   This developer has a 2.1 million dollar delta between borrowed monies and development costs.  After the abated period the taxes will rise to over $2000,000 per year.  Now here is the kicker.

The city of Arlington has what is known as the Housing Incentive Program.  What this program does is allow the home owner to receive money back on improvements accomplished to his/her property that increase the tax value of their property.  You can receive 10 times the tax increase up to a maximum of $5,000. 

Now the developer is sinking 41 million dollars into this project and it will increase the tax base of the property considerably, to where the annual tax bill is over $200,000.  2.1 million is only 5% of the total expenditure and if it is amortized over the five year period the numbers are very close to the Housing Incentive Program percentage wise, that is offered to every citizen in Arlington.  I realize that 2.1 million is larger than $5,000, but I also realize the $41 million is larger than anyone is going to be willing to sink into their house.

I think that this is a good investment for the citizens of Arlington.  There is no expenditure out of the General Fund or Capital Budget to redevelop this property.  All it costs is what each citizen is able to receive themselves through the Housing Incentive Program.  That is why I support the project and incentive package as proposed.

Monday, November 12, 2012


This weekend was busy to say the least.  I cooked for the Men's Breakfast on Saturday, at our church.  While I was there I got a few TXT messages, concerning acitivty in North Randle Mill Park.  It seems that one individual had taken it upon himself to clean up the park and reconstitute it the way he wanted it.  The problem with this idea is that neighbors living adjacent like to enjoy the serenity of the park on Saturdays with tranquility, and not hear a wood chipper running at 0800-1200 on their day off.  Plus they might like the natural state of the park they way that nature intended.  So this problem had to be dealt with.  In so doing I missed an engagement that I was supposed to attend, and I apologize.  I hate it when I get wrapped around the axle and conflict results in me being a no show.  After that I got to perform some domestic tasks around the house and prepare dinner for some guests.  Hey how about them Aggies?

Sunday was Veteran's Day and my day started with supporting my Rotary Club and putting out flags at 0600 in the morning.  Then to Church and teaching Sunday School to twenty kids.  But Veterans Day kept ringing in my mind.  Where is the consideration.  I know, I will attend the festivities at Veteran's Park today.  But little was given in support of this holiday.  Maybe my spirits will be lifted today.  The only consolation was to watch a bad Cowboy team beat a worse Eagle team.  It was like watching the battle of the cellar.  Well, for those of you that can attend there is a ceremony at Veteran's Park today at 11:00 to appreciate the service of our Veterans.  If you can attend I hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day

Just a note concerning the results of the election.  The people of this nation have spoken, and what they have said is that they want four more years of the same leadership and policy that they have experienced and that this is the direction that they want our country to proceed.  Although it is not in my DNA to agree with them, it is within my fabric to respect the result.  I wish that there could be more of that type of understanding in our local politics.  So often there is a my way or the highway mentality by the citizens.  This is recently demonstrated by the opinions concerning the smoking ordinance supporters.  It's either no smoking in 100% of the city or you're and idiot.  I realize that there is a lack of understanding and compassion concerning the opposite side of  the aisle, but that is why Washington has failed to become effective in governing our country. 

Last night at the City Council meeting it was demonstrated again.  I asked the realtor representing the Eastern Star Home if he would accept a clause in the contract stating that upon completion of the sale the home would be torn down.  This was the middle ground where a compromise could be reached.  With that being unacceptable the stay of demolition was extended to December 22.  I have a feeling that the status of the Eastern Star Home is not the determining factor of the sale of this property, as much as the price that the bank wants for the land.  That being said, the process will run it's course and I am positive that the wrecking ball will hit the side of that structure on the 23rd of December.  The Council has given every opportunity for a saviour to appear, and now its time to stop talking about the dog.  The last breath of this structure will be taken in six weeks.  Although miracles do happen

Another topic of concern was the Sapphire project, which is defined as an apartment complex between Center and Mesquite streets near UTA.  Here is the reason that I supported this project.  This will be a 5 story steel girder structure and its construction will be formidable.  The decision before the Council was to abate 5 years of taxes once the structure was complete.  In other words it was an incentive package.  The current properties on this land are apartments that yield $7,000 annually in property taxes for the entire block.  During the abated time the properties will pay $21,000, or three times the current annual rate.  The land owner wants us to partner with him in deferring $2.1 million in property taxes that would not be collect unless the structure is built.  This will occur over the first 5 years of existence, while he pours $41 million into the project.  After that the tax base increases to its normal rate.  I have met with John Hall, who is in charge of planning and development for UTA.  This project fits in nicely with UTA's planned expansion to the east.  They intend to fill in the area north of Mitchell, between Center and Mesquite up to First Baptist.  In the overall spectrum of concerns for this project the positives out weigh the negatives overwhelmingly.  That was what was before the Council and it passed 5-3 with Mr. Glaspie absent. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Town Hall Meeting

Well the turnout was about 100 people and the people in attendance were very much involved in their community.  Chief Leland Strickland of the APD started the ball rolling stating that although crime was down in North Arlington there is still the problem with personal crimes in the neighborhoods.  That being the case he has instituted programs such as bike patrols, "walk the block"and increased the patrols in the problem apartments.  I must say that the combination of these efforts and that of code enforcement have put certain problem properties in jeopardy, and it is totally due to the the property managers inability to provide an acceptable place to live.  It is the difference between having quality managers and owners versus the opposite end of the spectrum.  Walgreen's was also addressed, and the fact that we have not arrested any kids yet is not an accident.  We have opened faith based organizations for use after school and given every opportunity for them to move from the Walgreen's property.

The Fire Fighters were there in force.  They brought bomb robots, a bomb sniffing dog, and went over the most recent fire in the Forest Hills area of Arlington.  Assistant Chief Dave Carrol did a great job and was very informative.  Mike Bass went over code enforcement and where some of the properties stood in the Dangerous and Substandard Structures and Nuisance Abatement Program.  He stated that the Forest Hills apartments currently had 5 structures that were under DSS consideration.

Lastly Kieth Melton with public works went over the Lamar repaving project, and stated that it was a 10 million dollar project to expand from 4 lanes to 6 lanes from Collins to Stadium Dr. and that the project was going to take about 2 years to complete.  He talked about several projects that were in the works and were going to be in play throughout the city. 

Lastly I tried to answer the question why don't we tear down the apartments and put up single family dwelllings.  I tried to point out that the reclaimation of property drives up the lot price so much that it makes the individual houses too expensive to buy.  They will simply move down to Viridian and buy a much bigger house for the same money.  I was cornered after the meeting by a lady that wanted to know why I didn't support the smoking ordinance.  She stated that I got more letters from those want smoking banned so why didn't I support her position.  I told her that I didn't want to remove someone elses right so that I could impose her views.  Business owners have rights also and to impose her views would remove their rights permanently.  She stated that I got more letters from people supporting the ordinance so what kind of a representative are you that you don't listen to the people.  I said I'm a representative that doesn't want to regulate everything and everybody.  Property owners have the right today to make their properties smoke free.  The Rangers have solved their smoking problem without the use of the ordinance change.  Besides all the letters were the same form letter simply forwarded.  They just had different names on them. 

I gave her the cat anaolgy.  If I go into her house or place of business and she has a cat, do I have the right to tell her to get rid of the cat because I have an allergy to cats.  It's a health hazard also.  She couldn't rebut that analogy.

Well that's it.  I think that the crowd was very involved.  Good questions and good answers throughout the night.