City Council Meeting Summary (July 25)

This blog is a summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on July 25 and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks.

Place 2 Council Member Jess Fields missed the workshop due to illness, but returned for the regular meeting. Place 5 Council Member Julie Schultz is on vacation and was absent from both meetings.

Workshop Meeting Highlights

Click here to watch the entire workshop meeting. Click on individual agenda items listed beneath the video window to view a specific segment.

Arts Council of Brazos Valley

The city council heard a report from the Arts Council of Brazos Valley’s Chris Dyer regarding the organization’s operations and activities. Grant programs for FY 2010-11 include college arts scholarships, donor-designated grants, Partners in Excellence grants, and annual operating and program grants. The City of College Station assists with the funding for the Partners in Excellence grants as well as the operating and program grants.  Dyer presented a brief overview of the annual grant process and timeline, which began in July and will culminate in October or November. Annually, 10-20 percent of remaining hotel occupancy (HOT) funds is dedicated to this program, with each request limited to $2,500. 

Dyer also presented an overview of the impact of grant projects.  He said the Arts Council distributed $215,700 to 27 different arts, culture and heritage organizations, directly impacting an estimated 1.1 million people. The funded programs also resulted in approximately 4,000 hotel and motel room nights. The Arts Council provides board meeting agendas, minutes and financials monthly, and a detailed narrative and financial report is provided to the city quarterly.  The Arts Council is audited annually by an outside firm and in response to requests for financial conservatism has reduced its budget significantly in the last several years. 

Review of City-Owned Real Property

The council received an update from Director of Public Works Chuck Gilman on real properties owned by the city. The council directed staff to liquidate several of the properties and to solicit proposals for several others, including the Chimney Hill property that was purchased in 2008 for a proposed convention center.

The council voted unanimously (5-0) to liquidate three small tracts located along FM2818 at Highway 21 (.58 acres), 28th Street (.47 acres) and across from Providence (2.42 acres).

Council directed staff to put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a 3.36-acre tract that encompasses the entire block bounded by Wellborn Road, Louise Avenue, First Street and Church Avenue in the Northgate area.  A portion of the property is encumbered by a long-term lease but is a significant redevelopment asset.  Staff recommended keeping the property until the market improves to ensure a unique diverse development occurs.

Council directed staff to put out an RFP on the 7.9-acre Chimney Hill property and to get more information on the cost for cleaning up the building. The property has positive cash flow and Gilman pointed out that because it is a unique site with 360-degree access and a strategic location, its redevelopment potential will grow exponentially.

The council agreed with the staff’s recommendation to keep the properties along Krenek Tap Road at Texas Avenue (5.59 acres) and Dartmouth (11.6 and 25.15 acres) to allow for future construction of municipal facilities as approved by the citizens of College Station.  The council also agreed to keep a 1-acre tract located on the East side of SH 6 until the extension of Barron Road East is complete. The property was purchased in 2003 to relocate the intersection of Barron Road and SH 6 to avoid the old landfill.

The council decided to continue seeking opportunities to locate existing or future business operations into 278.21-acre Spring Creek campus, which is located adjacent to the Medical Corridor and is the second phase of the Business Center at College Station.  Staff recommended keeping the property until market conditions improve to ensure the city is able to realize its full potential.  The Business Center’s covenants and restrictions include stringent site requirements and architectural design standards, and certain land uses are prohibited. 

The last tract discussed was a 65-acre section located on Rock Prairie Road next to Lick Creek Park. Council agreed with staff’s recommendation to liquidate the property, but also directed staff to put out an RFP.

Regular Meeting Highlights

Click here to watch the entire workshop meeting. Click on individual agenda items listed beneath the video window to view a specific segment.

Consent Agenda

The council approved all the consent agenda items. The only item not approved unanimously was the Community Development Department’s 2012 Action Plan and Budget. Click here to view the complete list of consent items.

Traffic Signal Construction

The council awarded a $276,591.75 construction contract to Allstate Signal and Construction for the installation of traffic signals throughout the city as approved by voters in the 2008 Bond Election. 

Victoria Avenue Extension Construction Contract

The council awarded a $1.8 million construction contract for the Victoria Avenue Extension Project to Knife River, Inc. More than $2.45 million is budgeted in the Streets Capital Fund, $228,375 in the Water Capital Fund, and $47,000 in the Wastewater Capital Fund for a project budget of more than $2.73 million. A total of $403,783.21 has been spent or committed to date, leaving a balance of more than $2.32 million. The bid for the street portion of the project is significantly under budget.

FY 12 Community Development Action Plan and Budget

The council approved by a 5-1 vote the Community Development Department’s FY 2012 Action Plan and Budget, authorizing new allocations and the expenditure of remaining balances. Jess Fields voted against approving the plan.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that the plan and budget be received by August 16. Amounts available next year include more than $1.66 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Grant (HOME) funds, along with various carry-over amounts from previous allocations. CDBG and HOME funds may only be used to benefit low- and moderate-income persons, aid in the elimination of slum and blighting influences, or meet a particular urgent need.  In addition, CDBG funds may be used to meet local needs through a wide range of community development activities, while HOME funds may be used only for affordable housing activities. Historically, the city has used these funds for a variety of programs and activities, including affordable housing programs, direct services to low-income families, and infrastructure and public facility improvement in the city’s low-income areas.

Regular Agenda

Impact of New State Law on City Elections

The council conducted a public hearing and had a lengthy discussion about how a new state law will affect local elections. Texas Senate Bill 100 was signed into law in June by Gov. Rick Perry and takes effect Sept. 1. The city’s options include purchasing election equipment, moving city elections to November or changing the terms of office to two- or four-year staggered terms. Each option has implications that include cost, length of holdover in the affected positions, legal interpretations and public desire.

A motion to move to the November uniform election date and retain three-year staggered terms was defeated by a 5-1 vote. Council Member Jess Fields voted in support of the motion. All the council members expressed a desire to possibly allow citizens to vote on the issue. The council voted unanimously to call a special meeting and another public hearing for Monday, August 8 to continue the discussion. 

Click here to read a blog by City Secretary Sherry Mashburn on the city’s options.

Video Archive of Council Meetings

Council Agendas and Minutes
(Official minutes of Monday’s meetings will be available in two weeks)

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