I was sworn into office on 3 August of last year. I have had the pleasure to serve our community and there have been some huge mistakes and some victories along the way. I might add that the meager amount of monies that I have earned has been donated to help our wounded veterans in appreciation for their tremendous sacrifice to uphold our freedoms. So let's take a look and see if I'm worth my salt. I will not take credit for many of these efforts. I will simply say that I have made some great friendships and alliances along the way:
1. First of all I wanted to have a central form of communication to disseminate information in and around North Arlington. This website was put into existence about 10 months ago. Since that time you have viewed its contents over 15,000 times, and I have posted 78 items. I would call that a remarkable success. I am always surprised that someone would want to actually read what I have written. Thank you for staying informed.
2. Two wonderful ladies have helped me establish a program called "Friends of Rocquemore". Essentially it is a program that elevates education in the family structure to kids that live in and around the apartments in the Lamar/Collins Overlay. Participating complexes would reduce the family rent a small amount if a good report card was presented to the management. There were also corporate donations. Best Buy, Walmart Neighborhood Stores, Lincoln Square, and Rodriguez & Associates all contributed to make the end of the year awards ceremony the best ever.
3. I had the pleasure to partner with the Police and Code Compliance to address the biggest threat to our neighborhoods, the Forest Hills Apartments. The material and living conditions were horrible. Code did a great job of making sure that the owner of this complex maintained city standards. This also transformed into a new code standard ordinance for all multi-family structures throughout the city. I was fortunate to participate in this process since I was on the Municipal Policy Committee. Police increased patrols in the area and established a bike patrol. This increased exposure resulting in two gangs moving out of the Forest Hills complex. NO MORE GUN SHOTS AT NIGHT. The owner finally sold.
4. I feel blessed that, when I ran for office my priorities were aligned with that of City Staff. I wanted to improve our neighborhoods and Staff's efforts were also aimed in the Collins/Lamar Overlay area. A cooperative alliance was already formed and I simply fell in step with their efforts. Bob Kembel the visionary responsible for Viridian consented to come up the hill and help us with our ageing apartment problem. He has consented to 160 million dollars of investment in the Overlay. This is truly remarkable since there has been no interest for the last eight years! Last night the Council consented to enter into a performance driven agreement to start the project. The demo of the apartments will begin in December.
5. I have spent the last week in meetings with the principals of Windsor Senior Living facility, located on I635 in north Dallas. They have five properties, four in Texas and one in Vail Colorado. They want to construct a new facility with over 150 beds. Their care ranges from independent living to constant care. Their facility in Dallas is eleven stories and is a beautiful opportunity to downsize, or get care for immobility, dementia, Alzheimer's, or pre-hospice. I hope to bring their talents and investment to our city.
6. I have a PID (Public Improvement District) in progress also. Essentially I have approached the citizens in the Park Place development (Monopoly Streets) to consolidate their efforts to surround their neighborhood with a masonry wall. This effort is ongoing and will replace the wooden fence, and increase their property values. It is an exercise in coming together as a community and consolidating your resources and efforts as a neighborhood.
7. The control tower at Arlington Municipal Airport was put on the termination list due to sequestration. I had the pleasure to lobby for its survival by visiting Senator Cornyn, Representative Barton, and I met with staff from Senator Cruz and Representatives Williams and Veasey. After our visit Arlington Airport was the only airport to be fully funded for the next two years. When you tell someone that you have 33,000 hrs. of flight time, it puts some validity into the conversation.
8. We had a problem with a short term rental in one neighborhood. That issue was exposed to the Council level where the neighbors could confront their problem first hand. The Staff is currently monitoring other addresses that are advertised as "Short Term Rentals" and we will see if the problem necessitates an ordinance.
9. Signs were installed on Center Street warning drivers to be cautious in and around the Summit school area. Drop-off and pick-up times created congestion and became a problematic safety hazard. The installation of these signs were the best option available in solving this problem.
10. A crosswalk was requested and established at Lamar High School in an effort to safely allow students to get to their cars in the parking lot north of Lamar.
These are just some of the items that we have addressed in the north. Some haven't been successful, like the Walgreens effort. We addressed the issue with their corporate representative, but we received no cooperation on the matter. Police have been tremendous in being available and vigilant concerning this issue, but a willingness to solve this problem by Walgreens is essential to be successful. Out of this failed effort a success was created when the Arlington Police Department established the "REC". The REC is a faith based effort to allow students a place to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Tutors, basketball and other activities are available to the students, until their parents can come and pick them up. This program has received county wide media attention and is a feather in the APD cap.
I have had the pleasure to meet some truly incredible people this past year. I have partnered with some to try to make our neighborhoods a better place to live. I want to thank each and every one for their contribution to our community. And I want to thank you, the voter, for allowing me to meet these remarkable individuals. I have hosted two town hall meetings in the past year and I have another on the Lamar/Collins Overlay Apartment Project on 26 August at the Convention Center starting at 7:00. This will start off year two. Let's see where this takes us.