Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (Feb. 9)

8:56 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned. The council meets again on Feb. 23.

8:46 p.m.

Joint Neighborhood Parking Task Force

The council unanimously approved the formation of  a Joint Neighborhood Parking Task Force. The task force will consist of members of the city council and Planning and Zoning Commission. Councilmembers who will serve on the task force are Dave Ruesink, Blanche Brick and Julie Schultz.

8:44 p.m.

Ad Hoc Committee for Arts Council Relations

The council unanimously approved the creation an ad hoc committee to consider topics concerning the Arts Council of Brazos Valley, including the lease agreement for the Arts Council building, and the construction and use of the Wolf Pen Creek Festival Grounds. The subcommittee will consist of three council members and three members of the Arts Council Board of Directors. The subcommittee will be dissolved after completing its report. Councilmembers who will serve on the subcommittee are Julie Schultz, Katy-Marie Lyles and Nancy Berry.

8:39 p.m.

The regular meeting has adjourned. The council is now finishing up what was left of the workshop agenda.

8:38 p.m.

Strong and Sustainable Neighborhood Grant Program

The council voted 6-1 to approve revisions to the Strong and Sustainable Neighborhood Grant Program Guidelines to make projects identified in various neighborhood plans eligible for funding, which is budgeted at $15,000 per year. Councilmember Jess Fields voted against the motion. Neighborhood and Homeowner Associations will continue to contribute a 50 percent match to receive funds, but projects identified in the city’s neighborhood plans will be given priority and will be 100 percent funded. However, program funds will no longer be used for landscaping projects located outside public property or rights of way.

For several years, the city has operated a small grants program to strengthen neighborhoods. It originally was called the Gateway Grant Program and focused on establishing and improving neighborhood entrance monuments. In 2009, after a series of meetings with neighborhood interests and others about neighborhood integrity, the council made the program more comprehensive and changed its name.

8:16 p.m.

BVSWMA Board Appointment

The council unanimously approved Richard Floyd to replace Steve Beachy as the city’s representative on the BVSWMA Board of Directors.

 8:12 p.m.

Rental Rehabilitation Program

The council voted 6-1 to approve guidelines for the Rental Rehabilitation Program, which consists of a mixed repayable/forgivable loan to owners to upgrade aging rental properties to be more energy efficient and more closely meet building codes. Councilmember Jess Fields voted against the motion. Federal grants of about $50,000 will be available in Fiscal Year 2013. In 2010, the city surveyed the physical condition of buildings in College Station. The study revealed that multifamily units in the oldest segment of the city’s housing stock — used primarily by renters — are the ones most in need of repair.

The owners of these units have few market incentives to upgrade their aging product while maintaining its affordability. The target population for these federal grants are residents whose income is less than $35,000 a year, which is 80 percent of the area’s median income. This group consists almost entirely of renters. Participants would be required to maintain these assisted units and keep them affordable for a specified length of time.

Since the mid 1970’s the City of College Station has partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address quality of life, neighborhood stability and safe and decent housing for low and moderate-income residents. The city has received more than $43 million in grants, which has assisted more than 900 families through homebuyer assistance, security deposit assistance, rehabilitation assistance, new construction/reconstruction assistance and minor repair assistance. In addition, more than $8.5 million has been used for various park, street, facade, infrastructure and public facility improvements in low-income areas.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:40 p.m.

Rezoning of Property Near Lick Creek Park

The council unanimously approved the rezoning of about 65 acres at 13500 Rock Prairie Road, generally located west of Lick Creek Park, to allow for a residential development similar to others in the area.

Here is the PowerPoint Presentation received by the council:

7:13 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved these consent items:

  • A professional services contract for $149,718 with Arcadis US, Inc., for the preliminary engineering report for the Sandy Point Combined Project. Council also approved a resolution declaring intention to reimburse certain expenditures with proceeds from debt.
  • A one-year lease extension for Gambro Healthcare of Texas in the Chimney Hill Shopping Center. The minimum monthly rent will increase from $2 1 3 31.61 to $22.177.09 in August.
  • A real estate contract of $216,601 for the purchase of right-of-way and a public utility easement for the Rock Prairie Road East Widening Design and Right-of-Way Project.
  • Renewal of a semi-annual contract in an amount not to exceed $408,000 with Knife River for hot mix asphaltic concrete and emulsion installed.
  • Renewal of a five-year interlocal contract agreement  to allow the city to repair and maintain the playground equipment it owns at Hensel Park to city standards.
  • A correction deed conveying property located at 911 Monclair Avenue.
  • Ratification of cancellation of item Group B, PO#12-0343 in the amount of $33,570 to FAPCo LLC and subsequent ratification of award of bid item Group B to JH Davidson and Associates in the amount of $34,626 for the purchase of current transformers for the Switch Station Entergy tie project.

7:11 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. the council will finish the workshop agenda after the regular meeting.

7:09 p.m.

Christmas at the Creek Review

The council heard a report on the recent Christmas at the Creek event, which changed locations and activities from previous years. The Parks and Recreation Department welcomed participation from many non-profit groups, businesses, the Arts Center and numerous churches. Wolf Pen Creek Park was heavily decorated and was a focal point for visitors beginning Thanksgiving weekend and continuing through New Year’s Day. The major activity nights were located at the Wolf Pen Creek Park complex on Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11. Participation was estimated at 20,000 people over the four days, compared to 7,000 who attended the 2010 event at Central Park. The primary costs are part of Parks and Recreation’s operating budget, but sponsors were solicited and secured to help offset expenses.

Parks and Recreation Director David Schmitz said the event had outgrown Central Park and moving it to Wolf Pen Creek reduced costs by about $18,000. The savings were attributed primarily to reduced staff time for set-up and break-down, an increase in volunteers and a reduction in rental costs. Schmitz said future events could see more sponsorships and more involvement by businesses and non-profit organizations.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

6:46 p.m.

The council has returned to finish the workshop before moving into the regular meeting.

5:24 p.m.

The workshop meeting has been adjourned and the council has gone into executive session. The regular meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

5:23 p.m.

Sanitation and Recycling Program

The council received an update on the city’s sanitation services and recycling program. The Sanitation Division includes 35 full-time employees and 25 collection vehicles, and serves residential and commercial customers. The curbside recycling program is run through a private contractor and has a 71 percent participation rate. The contract with Texas Commercial Waste runs through 2015. Recyclables are sorted by Junction 505, an organization that helps employ people with disabilities. The city has not had a sanitation rate increase since 2006. The monthly rate of $14.40 includes the recycling program.

4:21 p.m.

State of the Police Department

Police Chief Jeff Capps updated the council on the state of the College Station Police Department, including a review of 2011 crime statistics. Capps said violent crimes such as assaults and robberies declined by 20 percent, but property crimes such as vehicle and home burglaries rose by 13 percent. He reported that the police answered more than 46,000 calls for service and made more than 4,600 arrests in 2011. Capps also outlined the department’s many community involvement activities.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

3:03 p.m.

The meeting opened with special recognitions of several city staff members:

  • Neighborhood and Community Services Coordinator Barbara Moore and Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor Lance Jackson recently were honored by the Brazos Valley African-American Museum.
  • City Manager David Neeley and City Attorney Carla Robinson are observing the first anniversary in their current positions.

3:00 p.m.

The workshop meeting is underway.