Latest

Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:  

  1. “Play for All” Inclusive Playground: The council will hear a workshop presentation on the inclusive playground for children with special needs that’s been proposed for Beachy Central Park. Texas A&M landscape architecture students helped develop the concept plan last fall. For more details, click here.
  2. Radio Repeaters for CSFD: The council will discuss the installation of radio repeaters in certain fire response vehicles. The equipment enhances firefighter safety and improves the reliability of critical communications.
  3. School Zone Improvements: The council will consider awarding a $116,440 bid to Bayer Construction for improvements to school zones at A&M Consolidated High School. The project includes overhead flashing beacons and signs equipped with LEDs. Funds authorized in the 2008 bond election will be used for the improvements.
  4. Updated Drought Contingency Plan: The council will consider approving changes to the city’s Drought Contingency and Water Emergency Plan. Included are updated drought stage triggers that more accurately reflect stress caused by high demand or a water supply emergency.
  5. Aggies Go to War Funding: The council will consider approving $225,000 in hotel tax funding for the Aggies Go to War exhibit. The funding agreement would be with the Research Valley Partnership.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and also can be accessed through the city’s Facebookpage.

Related links:

Colin Killian
 
 
Colin Killian | Communications & Marketing Specialist

“Great Escape” becoming reality for kids with special needs

Soapbubbles-SteveEFEarly last year, the Rotary Club of College Station approached the city with an inspired project idea – an inclusive playground for children with special needs.

Since several rotary club members work in Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, they also thought the project would be ideal for their landscape architecture students. The College Station Noon Lions Club soon joined in the effort, too.

Population growth reflects need

The city’s population recently surpassed 100,000, and the special needs community continues to grow as well. The College Station Independent School District alone has 1,435 students with various disabilities, but no “play for all” parks or playgrounds exist within the seven-county region encompassed by the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

In consultation with College Station Parks and Recreation, the landscape architecture students completed conceptual designs last fall that are the foundation for an advanced development plan. The students studied existing inclusive playgrounds in Texas, other states, England and Australia. They identified a two-acre site at Central Park as the best location due to ease of access, existing amenities, available space, available parkland dedication funds and visibility.

Called The Great Escape at Central Park, the project would provide a safe atmosphere and is designed to have a long life with low maintenance. The playground would serve various ability levels while incorporating educational aspects and challenges to spark the kids’ imaginations and enhance their quality of life. Amenities include chair swings and specially designed slides for kids with limited mobility, sensory items for those with Autism, splashpad, nature trail, multi-sport court, gardens, and interactive elements to encourage social play.

It would also strengthen our community by encouraging interaction and involvement. Here’s a look at the concept plan:

 

Project will be challenging

With a price tag of about $2 million, completing the facility will be challenging, but the Rotary and Lions clubs already are organizing task forces to plan fundraising efforts – which could include pursuing grants and non-profit funding – and involve the community in the facility’s construction. If those efforts are successful, the park could be built in phases over several years with construction beginning as soon as next summer.

On Thursday, the College Station City Council will hear a presentation on this worthy project. The city would allocate some funds from the Parkland Dedication Fund, and would also oversee construction and handle long-term operations and maintenance. Those costs would be supplemented by ongoing donations to a dedicated fund.

For more information on how to become involved, please call the Parks and Recreation Department at 979.764.3486.

Bubbles photo by Steve Ford Elliott.

.

9-1-1 operators: Life, death, cheese and jalapeños

jalapenoThe men and women who serve as dispatchers in the College Station Police Department’s Emergency Communications Center may work long hours in a dark room surrounded by computer screens, but make no mistake — we lead interesting lives.

As the highly trained professionals who answer 9-1-1 emergency calls around the clock, we are the first first responders for people in emergency situations. Last year, we received more than 30,000 calls from the 9-1-1 system and more than 200,000 non-emergency calls.

Emergency dispatchers are the first to respond to a number of life-threatening incidents and serve as audio witnesses to almost everything you can imagine — and some things you can’t. We can talk you through emergencies and provide treatment instructions before help arrives.

In addition, operators field questions about all types of complaints while coordinating priorities to serve the public in the best and fastest way possible. Working tirelessly behind the scenes, these individuals can make the difference between life and death.

We’ve heard children being born and grown people dying.

We also get calls about when midnight yell practice starts and angry reports from people at drive-thru restaurants who didn’t get the jalapeños they ordered on their burger.

A few years ago, a caller reported that Chick-fil-A has been robbed because the lights were off and the cash drawers were open. I always assumed everyone knew Chick-fil-A was closed on Sundays.

Sometimes, misunderstandings occur. A lady once called from a fast food restaurant to report that her “cheese” had been stolen. We were a bit puzzled, but when she finally mentioned she couldn’t drive home, we realized it was her keys that had been taken.

I spent 23 years in public safety on the south side and suburbs of Chicago, so I know what professionals look like, and College Station’s dispatchers fit the bill. The elevated level of service they provide to our citizens is a distinct source of pride.

In other centers that I managed, no one but telecommunicators and administrative personnel were allowed in the dispatch center — including police officers. While that provided a measure of security, it also caused a disconnect between operators and emergency responders.

In College Station, our personnel deal directly with officers and firefighters, which means a greater sense of accountability should a call go bad. Since we get to know our officers and their idiosyncrasies, seasoned operators know by an officer’s tone of voice if they are sensing or even involved in a dangerous situation.   

ab6a1615-4124-4b51-95c0-0abb1d135010As a division of a city department, we’re also connected to hundreds of other good folks who work for the City of College Station and make up our extended family. The Emergency Communications Center has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies since 2003.

In recognition of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we honor our Telecommunicators with a special thank you for their ongoing hard work and untiring dedication in their efforts to keep our city, citizens and responders safe. 

 Robert Radtke
 
 
Robert Radtke | CSPD Communications Manager
.

Traveling South Koreans to teach senior fitness class

institutelogoeng-1The monumental success of the Brazos Valley Senior Games in February opened a lot of eyes in the Brazos Valley. With more than 400 athletes above the age of 50 participating, the College Station Parks and Recreation Department also needed plenty of volunteer help to make the event succeed.

Among the dozens of enthusiastic volunteers were Dr. Jinmoo Heo and many of his students from Texas A&M’s Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences Department. The games’ participation numbers prompted Dr. Heo to approach the city about a traveling fitness program sponsored by South Korea’s Global Senior Health Promotion Institute.

With Dr. Heo’s assistance, we reached out to the institute and it graciously added a stop in College Station to its busy schedule. A four-member team will lead a free one-hour senior fitness class on Tuesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. at Southwood Community Center, focusing on grace, balance and control.

Here’s a sample of the institute’s programs:

 

A unique opportunity

The group is dedicated to improving senior health around the world through research and theory development with an emphasis on breathing, flexibility, and physical exercise. The institute’s director, Dr. Youngshin Won—a professor in the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at South Korea’s Yonsei University—will lead the team. Traveling with Dr. Won will be Jin Won Kim, Shagnhee Lee and Ki Hyun Do.

This free class is a unique opportunity for senior adults to participate in a fitness program based on the latest research and designed especially for seniors. If you are interested in being healthier in your golden years, don’t miss this chance.

To register or get more information, call 979-764-6351 or email me at mrodgers@cstx.gov.

The Parks and Recreation Department promotes senior health and fitness through a variety of activities at Southwood and the Lincoln Recreation Center. To find the perfect program for you, check out our monthly calendar of events and classes at cstx.gov/seniors.

Marci Rodgers
 
 
Marci Rodgers | Senior Services Coordinator
.

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 10)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 10. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:10 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started.

6:42 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting, but these items were pulled for workshop discussion:

  • Free Parking on Boyett Street: Approval of this item would establish four free parking spaces on the west side of Boyett from Patricia Street to Church Avenue, which would bring to 17 the number of free on-street parking spaces in the Northgate District.
  • USGS Joint Funding Agreement: The joint funding agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey for stream stations would help provide actual field-measured data for the calibration of engineered flood studies. The city’s regulated floodplains impact hundreds of properties valued at millions of dollars, and many of the city’s major capital projects are influenced by flood studies, which also impact associated flood insurance rates and development regulation.
  • Water Conservation Grant: The inter-local agreement includes a $57,500 grant from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District to create a system to help residents avoid overwatering their landscapes and lawns. The system would include a weather station and rain gauges that auto-report to a database and website created by Texas A&M Agri-Life.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Replacement Project: The consent agenda includes two items related to the ERP project to replace the city’s wide-ranging business software: (1) A $69,000 software maintenance and support agreement and a $531,000 license and installation agreement with CRW Systems, Inc.; and (2) a master agreement for $1,421,077 with Tyler Technologies for software licenses and implementation services.
  • Emergency Management Plan: The 2014 Emergency Management Plan outlines the approach of local government entities to emergency operations and provides general guidance for emergency management.

7:07 p.m. 

P&Z Commission Plan of Work

The council unanimously voted to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission‘s 2014 plan of work.

 7:54 p.m.

Rental Registration Program changes

The council discussed recommended changes to the rental registration program and related code enforcement efforts. The council did not vote on the proposed changes, and a public hearing will be scheduled at a later date. For more detail on the recommendations, see pages 9-14 of the workshop packet.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:04 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned.

8:05 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

8:08 p.m.

Rock Prairie Behavioral Health Day

Mayor Nancy Berry revisited its April 7 action of proclaiming that day as Rock Prairie Behavioral Health Day to mark the grand opening of the new mental health facility on Normand Drive near the College Station Medical Center. The 55,000-square foot, 72-bed facility treats children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Pictured below are (l-r): MaxAnne Jones, RPBH director of Human Resources; Laurie Garrett, RPBH executive administrative assistant; Mayor Nancy Berry; Duane Runyan, RPBH chief executive officer; and Anthony Moore, RPBH director of Business Development.

10003404_10152244141103046_5853337310476091254_n

8:24 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Six people spoke during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted regular agenda: Ben Roper recognized Cpl. Brian M. Kennedy of Houston, who died in 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom; members of the Brazos County Health Department promoted National Public Health Week; Two people spoke in support of the rental registration program and increased fines for violations; one person was against the program because he said existing ordinances address rental housing issues; and one person said he was concerned about privacy and compliance issues in the program.

 8:25 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda:

  • A $147,628 contract with CENTEX Hydroseed, plus $11,000 for one alternate, for improvements to athletic fields in Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.
  • Four free parking spaces on the west side of Boyett from Patricia Street to Church Avenue, bringing to 17 the number of free on-street parking spaces in the Northgate District.
  • A joint funding agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey for water resources investigations for stream stations.
  • An estoppel certificate with Northgate and the Research Valley Partnership.
  • An inter-local agreement that includes a $57,500 grant from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District to create a system to help residents avoid overwatering their landscapes and lawns. The system will include a weather station and rain gauges that auto-report to a database and website created by Texas A&M Agri-Life.
  • A $69,000 software maintenance and support agreement and a $531,000 license and installation agreement with CRW Systems, Inc.
  • A master agreement for $1,421,077 with Tyler Technologies for software licenses and implementation services for the Enterprise Resource Planning system.
  • A payment of $140,001.90 to the Brazos Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau for preferred access to Texas A&M University facilities.
  • The 2014 Emergency Management Plan.

8:29 p.m.

Montclair Avenue Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to change the zoning district boundaries from Duplex to General Suburban for about a half-acre of land generally located at 805-809 Montclair Avenue.

8:31 p.m.

Barron Road Rezoning

After another public hearing, the council also unanimously voted to change the zoning district boundaries from Rural to General Suburban for about two acres generally located at 2670 Barron Road.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council (this presentation also includes the Montclair rezoning from the previous agenda item):

 

8:52 p.m.

Barracks II Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to change the zoning district boundaries from Rural and Planned Development District to Planned Development District for about 88 acres in the Barracks II Subdivision, which is generally located at 12470 Barron Road. Place 5 Councilmember Julie Schultz recused herself from the vote, citing a conflict of interest.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

9:08 p.m.

Budget Amendment No. 3

After a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to amend the FY 14 budget to provide $46,327 in additional hotel tax funds for the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau’s grant program.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

9:08 p.m.

The regular meeting was adjourned. The council meets again April 24.

 

 

TxDOT: SH 6 ramp and lane closures to start Tuesday

TXDOT_2000px[1]The Texas Department of Transportation sent out this press release earlier today. Please note that these closures will be for about three months:

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Texas Department of Transportation’s contractor will close two SH 6 northbound ramps and a northbound frontage road lane between Harvey Road and University Drive.

The SH 6 northbound exit ramp to Harvey Road will be closed and traffic wanting to access Harvey Road will be detoured to the SH 30 exit ramp. Additionally, the SH 6 northbound entrance ramp will be closed and traffic wanting to enter SH 6 will have to use the next entrance ramp. These ramp closures allow the contractor to remove the existing ramps and construct new ramps.

The left lane of the SH 6 northbound frontage road will also be closed leaving one lane of traffic between Harvey Road and University Drive. This closure will allow the contractor to begin roadway widening operations for a future auxiliary lane between the two new ramps.

Along with these closures, a construction speed zone will be in place. The speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph within the work area for the SH 6 northbound traffic only.

The closures and speed zone are expected to be in place for approximately three months.

This work is part of the $9.6 million SH 6 Ramps Project that is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2015.

For more information, contact TxDOT Public Information Officer Bob Colwell at 979-778-9764.

– Public Communications Office

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers