Well I haven’t written anything on the blog in a couple of months, simply because there wasn’t much subject matter to write about. But I believe the passing of 2017 is noteworthy. There have been several events that I can certainly be thankful for in my personal life. Professionally it was incredible, but now it’s time to put those things in the rearview mirror and move forward.
1. The Eagle Mountain Tavern is a new endeavor for me. It has been wildly successful in north Ft. Worth. Brian Olenjack is back in the kitchen and creating remarkable food that I have missed, for the last 3 years. Our reviews from the Ft. Worth Star Telegram have been very positive, and the reviews of our customers have all been very favorable. We hope to do something in North Arlington in the coming years. Brian enjoys a strong following in Arlington and I believe that Arlington deserves his talent as an outstanding Chef.
2. The voters have allotted $45 million for a senior center on Green Oaks Blvd. near the West Police Station. This center will be designed next year and constructed in 2020. It will be a 67,000 sq./ft. facility that will accommodate citizens over the age of 50. I believe that the city of Arlington will benefit greatly from this addition, and that this particular facility will be well received by our seniors. A senior community will be built around the facility and be a showpiece in senior living.
3. Ditto golf course has been getting a facelift. This facility has been totally redone. From the course outline to the practice range and the maintenance building, it is something the city can be proud of. There will be decorative iron fencing around the entire course and a new 18,000 sq./ft. clubhouse that will be used as a gathering place for golf tournaments, social events and dining. Even the name will be changed to make Ditto a destination golf course and move them from 49th in Avid Golfer into the top 3 in the Metroplex.
4. Arlington Commons phase 1 has started to move in tenants. This was a $200 million project that is coming to fruition. The completion of phase 1 has told us that given the quality of tenants, our young professionals do want to stay in Arlington. The goal was to increase the financial level of tenants and at $1.85 a sq./ft. Bob Kembel is accomplishing just that. I am looking forward to the linear park that will start construction shortly.
5. I-30 Arlington Gateway sign is operational and is beautiful. This sign is programmable and is like Arlington’s own Eiffel Tower. City Staff programed the colors of Ohio St. and USC to welcome the two teams that participated in this year’s Cotton Bowl matchup. This is a quality product and something that I had promised back in 2012 when I was elected. Arlington citizens can be proud of this entryway sign and more are on the way.
6. Texas Live is being constructed rapidly and also the Loews Live hotel is on its way. This is another milestone that was promised back in the day, and is becoming a reality in 2018. Construction as a whole is starting to pop up in and around the stadiums. Plains Capital is putting in a headquarters across the street on Collins. AISD is putting in a Performing Arts Center and Natatorium in the old Eastern Star property. There are talks about another new larger hotel near the stadiums. Billions of dollars will be poured into the entertainment district in the years to come because of the groundwork laid in 2017. Also we are going to get a new stadium for the Rangers. The work is going strong and the design is still in question but our grandkids will be able to watch baseball in Arlington.
7. Another new hotel was approved in 2017, the Drury Plaza Hotel. I was based as an airline pilot in St. Louis. This was the home of the Drury family and I certainly was not impressed to find out that Drury wanted to come to Arlington. But I traveled to inspect the Drury Plaza Hotel in Chesterfield. I was surprised! This is a quality product and will sit on the Northwest corner of Center and Road to Six Flags. At 9 stories and 268 rooms this will be a great addition to North Arlington. Believe me when I tell you that we don’t need another garden inn product. Done that, and we are saturated with that level of hotel. The Drury Plaza is a giant step up, and will start the development of that corner.
8. Lastly, let me say that this year the citizens gave the fire department civil service. Because of Union Leadership and its animosity toward AFD management, it has made our fire department something less than it has been in the past. The local union and its state affiliate wanted civil service in Arlington for personal reasons. The fire union is now threatening to sue the city over promotion exams taken after the civil service vote. These exams were not civil service exams that were part and parcel to Part 143 of the Local Governance code. The union fought against this type of promotional testing and now they are suing because we had to resend the results and retest. Remember the phrase, “We want advancement and hiring because of what you know not who you know.” Now they are suing because we used the old test not the new ones. I might add that this was the decision of the Civil Service Commission. The city can’t change the decision of the Commission. We didn’t even have a Commission before Civil Service was voted on.
Well I guess that kinda wraps up 2017. There were many different decisions that had to be made also, like the smoking ordinance, transportation etc. but those are everyday battles. I look forward to 2018, my last year in office. Just a reminder that I have another Town Hall Meeting at Lamar High on Monday the 8th of January, 6:30-8:00. The subjects will be Transportation and Short Term Rentals. I hope to see you there.