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Why don’t we have more cable and internet options?

By Brian Piscacek, Assistant to the City Manager/Special Projects

Contrary to popular belief, the City of College Station does not limit local cable television or internet service options.

So why doesn’t our community have more choices?

First, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) grants cable and telecommunications franchises at the state level. The city of College Station has nothing to do with it.

From there, market forces come into play. Generally speaking, new providers find it cost-prohibitive to enter a market where an established franchisee already has the necessary infrastructure in place. In our case, the local cable franchisee has built its vast infrastructure over many years.

That’s why Suddenlink Communications is our community’s primary cable TV and internet provider.

Suddenlink’s infrastructure is located in the city’s public right-of-way, a publicly-owned space through which authorized telecommunications and cable companies provide their services. In return, companies such as Suddenlink pay quarterly franchise fees to the city.

A competitor is free to invest in our market and offer those services. In fact, a handful of smaller internet and telecommunications providers are available in parts of our area.

If you have questions about your bill or concerns about your service, your best bet is to contact the company. Even the PUC doesn’t maintain regulatory authority over cable television service, despite issuing the franchises.

 


About the Blogger

Brian Piscacek has been with the City of College Station since 2012 and has served as assistant to the city manager for special projects since early 2019. He was previously a community development analyst. Before coming to College Station, Brian worked for Texas Tech and the North & East Lubbock Community Development Corporation. He earned bachelor’s (2007, Political Science/History) and master’s (2009, Public Administration) degrees from Tech.


 

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Federal grants mean more (and safer) firefighters

By Carter Hall, CSFD Firefighter

Thanks to three federal grants approved Monday night by the city council, the College Station Fire Department will soon have more trained, front-line firefighters available in our community.

The $1.2 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency significantly enhance the department’s capabilities by not only adding firefighters but also equipping stations with diesel exhaust removal systems and providing training for standardized emergency operations management.

One $911,476 grant was awarded through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program and will help increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters we have available for responding to emergencies.

The other two grants, totaling $286,906, were from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. The funds will provide source-capturing diesel exhaust removal systems in three of our fire stations along with the Blue Card Hazard Zone Incident Command Training and Certification Program (Blue Card).

Diesel exhaust has been linked to increased cancer rates and is an increasing threat at fire stations as well as fire scenes. The removal system limits the exposure of firefighters and their protective gear by removing exhaust from vehicle areas. We haven’t set an installation date, but we want the vital cancer-reducing equipment installed as soon as possible.

Blue Card provides firefighters a standardized system to safely and effectively manage emergency operations through an online, hands-on training simulator. The system also enables CSFD to become a Blue Card training facility. Blue Card training has already started and encompasses all personnel involved in emergency response. We have 161 people enrolled.

“I’m proud to enhance our capabilities by adding firefighters to serve the citizens, keeping firefighters safe from work-related contaminants, and providing training for use on emergency scenes,” Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan said. “I also thank the College Station Professional Firefighter Association for its continued advocacy and support of firefighter safety and wellness initiatives and its assistance with the grant process.”

CSFD Accepting Applications

The CSFD is accepting applications for firefighters who want to join the department as part of the SAFER staffing. To apply, go to cstx.gov/fire.

 


About the Blogger

Carter Hall has been a College Station firefighter since 2011. He earned a degree in leadership development from Texas A&M in 2005.


 

 

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Survey another way to express views on city’s future

By Justin Golbabai, Long-Range Planning Administrator

In late September, the City of College Station conducted a series of four public workshops as part of the 10-year update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Since the topic was about College Station’s development road map for the next decade, we expected a strong turnout.

We asked for enthusiastic public input, and that’s what we got.

More than 200 residents participated in the workshops, providing essential insights on our present and future growth patterns. The gatherings also generated vital feedback on how residents think the city should develop.

We offer our sincere gratitude to all who attended the workshops, but if you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry.

An online survey — in English and Spanish — is open through Oct. 16. If you missed the workshops, the survey is a meaningful way to contribute your input about our community’s present and future growth patterns.

The workshops and the survey play a crucial role in the city’s evaluation and reassessment of its 2009-30 Comprehensive Plan, our policy roadmap to plan, anticipate, and guide growth and development over 20 years. The Next 10 process is considering current conditions, recent trends, and best practices, and is involving the community in shaping our growth and development.

Your valued input will lead to changes and updates to the Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance, the policies and regulations that affect new development. We hope to have the evaluation process completed by late next summer.

For more information and to sign-up for email updates, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10.

 


About the Blogger

Long-Range Planning Administrator Justin Golbabai, AICP CNU-A has been with the City of College Station since 2016. He previously served the City of Austin for nine years in various capacities, most recently as Neighborhood Partnering Program manager. Justin has also worked for the cities of Savannah (Ga.) and Overland Park (Kan.). A native of Windsor, Conn., he received a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas in 2006, and a bachelor’s in economics and sociology from The University of Notre Dame in 2004.


 

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Live Blog: Monday’s city council meetings (Oct. 7)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Monday, Oct. 7. It’s not the official minutes.

The sessions can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:04 p.m.

The workshop has started. The council took no action out of the executive session. 

6:09 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled this consent item for workshop discussion:

  • Munson Avenue Sidewalks: The $193,000 contract is for an eight-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of Munson Avenue from Dominik Drive to Harvey Road. The project was identified in the city’s ADA Transition Plan and was requested by a resident with access needs.

6:10 p.m.

Mayor Karl Mooney suspended the workshop, which will resume after the regular meeting.

6:11 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:15 p.m.

Municipal Court Week

Mayor Mooney proclaimed Nov. 4-8 as Municipal Court Week. Judge Ed Spillane and College Station Municipal Court staff are pictured with Mayor Mooney.

6:21 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Army Capt. Michael A. Norman as part of the Fallen Heroes Project. The 36-year-old Killeen native died Jan. 31, 2008 when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq.

6:22 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A $109,014 contract with Mitchell & Morgan for the conceptual design of the extension of Bird Pond Road from Highway 6 to Lakeway Drive.
  • A $192,629 contract with Palomares Construction for sidewalk improvements along Munson Avenue.
  • A $162,665 contract with Dell Marketing for computer equipment.
  • A three-year agreement not to exceed $225,000 with ESRI for GIS systems software licensing and support.
  • The city’s investment policy and strategy, reviewing and recording changes, a collateral policy, and investment officers for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020.
  • A FY 18 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant of $911,476.
  • The city’s Traffic Calming Policy.
  • The addition of a school zone for River Bend Elementary on Rock Prairie Road West and Holleman Drive South and changes to the operational times and posted hours of several school zones to better align with the presence of crossing guards.
  • Reduced the speed limit on Holleman Drive South between North Dowling Road to the Rock Prairie West Road Intersection to 40 mph on the southern section and to 45 mph for the northern section.

6:34 p.m.

Midtown Area Road Name Changes

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to rename Midtown Loop as Durham Loop, Bird Pond Road west of Rock Prairie Road as Town Lake Drive, Pebble Creek Parkway from Highway 6 and Lakeway Drive as Corporate Parkway, and Lakeway Drive between Highway 6 and Fitch Parkway as Midtown Drive.

The city is marketing its next business park with the Midtown mixed-use development, and the street name changes will help distinguish the area as a destination.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:49 p.m.

Fitch-Rock Prairie Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural to Restricted Suburban, General Commercial, Office, and Natural Areas Protected for about 210 acres at the intersection of Rock Prairie Road and William D. Fitch Parkway. The change would allow for a 175- acre continuation of the Pebble Creek Subdivision with an additional non-residential component of about 18 acres.

The proposal also includes the protection of 17 acres of floodplain next to Pebble Creek Country Club.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:57 p.m.

1700 George Bush Drive Land Use

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-1 to deny a request to change the land use from Natural Areas Reserved to Urban and Natural Areas Reserved for about 2.7 acres at 1700 George Bush Drive. Councilwoman Elianor Vessali voted against the motion to deny.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:08 p.m.

Police Station Equipment

The council voted unanimously to approve $2.85 million for furniture, appliances, information technology items, shelving, security equipment, audio/visual items, dispatch equipment, and evidence storage for the new police station. Because of the progress of the project, the city expects a $400,000 reduction to the construction encumbrance in FY20, which leaves a balance of $2.9 million for this contract and related expenses.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:14 p.m.

Experience BCS Appointment

The council voted unanimously to appoint Councilmember Jerome Rektorik, Karen Bonarrigo, and Greg Stafford to the Experience Bryan-College Station Board of Directors, along with Jay Primavera as the chair.

8:20 p.m.

Impact Fee Committee Appointment

The council appointed James Jones as the extraterritorial jurisdiction representative to the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, which is also known as the Impact Fee Advisory Committee.

8:25 p.m.

Mobility Authority Appointment

The council voted unanimously to appoint Veronica Morgan to the Brazos County Regional Mobility Authority, an independent local government agency that has the authority to finance, acquire, design, construct, operate and extend transportation projects.

8:28 p.m.

After the council discussed and reviewed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The workshop meeting will resume after a short break.

8:39 p.m.

The workshop has started.

8:46 p.m.

Promoting Tourism on Channel 19

The council discussed opportunities to promote tourism and local events through the city’s cable channel or online. Channel 19 (CSTV19) is operated by the City of College Station and funded through a state franchise agreement with local cable provider Suddenlink Communications. 

Channel 19’s programming is restricted to activities funded, sponsored, or are otherwise relevant to the City of College Station and the College Station Independent School District. The programming is intended to increase awareness of local government and encourage community participation in decision-making processes.

Programming includes live and recorded broadcasts of city council and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings, public service announcements, special event promotions, job opportunities, and other pertinent issues and notices.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:51 p.m.

Mayor Karl Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports.

The council meets again on Thursday, Oct. 24.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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5 things to watch at Monday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Monday at city hall for its workshop (about 5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Munson Avenue Sidewalks: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $193,000 contract for an eight-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of Munson Avenue from Dominik Drive to Harvey Road. The project was identified in the city’s ADA Transition Plan and was requested by a resident with access needs.
  2. Fire Department Federal Grant: Another consent item is a $911,476 federal grant to fund new firefighters for three years. The city’s required match contribution is $566,593 for a total budget of about $1.48 million.
  3. Fitch-Rock Prairie Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the zoning from Rural to Restricted Suburban, General Commercial, Office, and Natural Areas Protected for about 210 acres at the intersection of Rock Prairie Road and William D. Fitch Parkway. The change would allow for a 175-acre continuation of the Pebble Creek Subdivision with an additional non-residential component.
  4. 1700 George Bush Drive Land Use: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the land use from Natural Areas Reserved to Urban and Natural Areas Reserved for about 2.7 acres at 1700 George Bush Drive. The change would better align with the property’s zoning and multi-family development and prepare it for marketability and potential redevelopment.
  5. Midtown Area Road Name Changes: After a public hearing, the council will consider renaming Midtown Loop as Durham Loop, Bird Pond Road west of Rock Prairie Road as Town Lake Drive, Pebble Creek Parkway from Highway 6 and Lakeway Drive as Corporate Parkway, and Lakeway Drive between Highway 6 and Fitch Parkway as Midtown Drive.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


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Create fond family memories at Park in the Dark

By Brooke Littlefield, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

Thanks to Lick Creek Park in the Dark, you don’t have to travel far to create fun memories with your friends and family. The Lick Creek Nature Center family invites you to join us the night of Friday, Oct. 18.

You’ll enjoy campout favorites such as a hot dog dinner, storytelling, and a night hike. Our friends from Texas A&M’s Outdoor Adventures will also help you learn camping basics. The night concludes with a showing of the Disney-Pixar film “A Bug’s Life.”

The family-friendly event begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Campers must bring a tent, supplies, snacks, and drinks. Electricity won’t be provided, and don’t forget to pack a sleeping bag, flashlights, tent lantern, bug spray, and folding chairs.

Limited spots are available, and registration ends Wednesday, Oct. 16. The cost is $8 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult (18+, and pets aren’t allowed.

If you don’t own camping gear, Outdoor Adventures can rent you some. For more information, call 979-845-7035.

Join us as we make camping memories for a lifetime!

 


About the Blogger

Brooke Littlefield is in her first year as an assistant recreation supervisor. A College Station native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Texas A&M in 2017.


 

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