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$1.8 million in federal funds available for COVID-19 aid

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

The City of College Station will make about $1.8 million in federal funds available for two grant programs aimed at helping College Station’s low-to-moderate income residents pay their rent and their employers keep them on the payroll.

Sources for the funding are the CARES Act, Community Development Block Grants, and the HOME Investment Partnership Program. Some of the funds are being re-purposed from previously planned programs. 

The City of College Station Community Development Division will process applications for assistance to residents and businesses affected by the outbreak. 

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

The Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program uses $475,000 in HOME funds to provide rent assistance to qualifying households for up to three months. The households are eligible for up to $1,000 each month, including payment of unpaid rent for May.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord indicated on the lease, which must have started on or before March 1.  After completing an online eligibility application, grant recipients will be selected by a random drawing. If selected, recipients have one week to provide the necessary documentation. 

Applications will be available on cstx.gov, starting at 12:01 a.m. on June 1 and closing at 11:59 p.m. on June 7.

For more information, email us at RentAssistance@cstx.gov.

Economic Assistance Grant Program

The Economic Assistance Grant Program for small businesses opens the second round of applications today with about $500,000 in CDBG funds. The application deadline is noon on Friday, June 5. Up to $40,000 in community development grant funds will be available for small College Station businesses that will retain or create jobs for mostly low-to-moderate income residents.

The amount granted will be determined by the number of full-time equivalent employees who work each week (FTE=total number of hours worked during the week divided by 40). Businesses must provide proof they were impacted financially by COVID-19. They will also need to report for 60 days to demonstrate they meet the job retention or creation requirements.

For more information, email us at EconomicAssistance@cstx.gov.

Additional Assistance

Additional assistance will be provided to local agencies working to meet the needs of College Station residents. Previously, $30,000 in CDBG funds was provided to Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul to assist residents with rent and utility payments.

An additional $500,000 in CDBG Public Service Agency funding will be available to programs that address needs caused by COVID-19, including medical, food, rent, utilities, and other basic needs. A request for proposal will be released on Monday for agencies interested in addressing these coronavirus-caused needs. Specific Information will be released when programs have been selected for funding.

Community Development staff are available to provide technical assistance to residents or businesses interested in applying for aid. If you need help, call us at 979-764-3778. Similar programs are available for Bryan residents. For more information, go to bryantx.gov

We understand the community’s needs are high, and these resources will not be able to help everyone. Residents are encouraged to contact 2-1-1 for information regarding other available assistance.

  


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (May 28)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular teleconference meetings on Thursday, May 28. It’s not the official minutes.

The live audio is streamed on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 998 0711 3729. 

6:39 p.m.

The workshop has started. 

6:48 p.m.

City to create tourism office

The council voted unanimously to terminate the city’s funding agreement with Experience Bryan-College effective Aug. 1. The city will incorporate tourism into its economic development and recovery strategies by launching a new internal operation focused on the hospitality industry.

6:52 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council pulled these items for discussion from the regular meeting’s consent agenda:

  • Credit Card Processing: The council will consider approving Renewal No. 1 and Amendment No. 2 for an estimated expenditure of $240,000 with Global Payments Direct for merchant card and credit card payment processing services.
  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance: The council will consider guidelines to assist households unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 disaster declarations. The guidelines will reprogram $475,000 in existing federal grants.
  • Impact Fee Semi-Annual Report: The Impact Fee Semi-Annual Report is provided to the council in accordance with state law. The City of College Station adopted system-wide impact fees for water, wastewater, and roadways in 2016.
  • Former Police Station: The city has negotiated a three-year, $1.02 million lease of the old police station at 2611 Texas Avenue to International Leadership of Texas.

7:20 p.m.

Proposed FY 20 Bond Issuance

The council voted unanimously to direct staff to proceed with reduced parameters for the proposed FY 20 bond issuance based on existing economic conditions. The certificates of obligation will be presented for the council’s consideration on June 11.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

7:38 p.m.

Incentives Compliance Report

The council voted unanimously to accept the 2019 Incentive Compliance Report by the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

7:43 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports, Mayor Karl Mooney adjourned the workshop. The regular meeting starts after a short break.

7:57 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

8:06 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during hear visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that does not appear on the posted agenda.

  • David Flash spoke about a complaint he filed on Feb. 2 with the College Station Police Department. He said the complaint has still not been answered and asked the council to encourage the new police chief to complete the investigation.

8:11 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda. Citizen Richard Woodward gave a presentation on the impact fee item:

  • The second reading of a franchise agreement with Howdy Disposal for the collection of demolition and construction debris, recyclables, and organic waste from commercial, industrial and multifamily locations.
  • Renewal No. 1 and Amendment No. 2 for an estimated $240,000 with Global Payments Direct for merchant card and credit card payment processing services.
  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance guidelines to assist with rental assistance for College Station households affected by the COVID-19 disaster declarations.
  • The first renewal of an annual electric system construction and maintenance labor contract not to exceed $750,000 with H&B Contractors.
  • The semi-annual report on systemwide water, wastewater, and roadway impact fees.
  • The BVWACS annual operation and maintenance and capital budget.
  • An amendment to the contract with Emergicon.
  • A three-year, $1.02 million lease of the old police station building on Texas Avenue to International Leadership of Texas.
  • An advance funding agreement of $35,525 with the Texas Department of Transportation for the city’s contribution for signal improvements for the intersection of George Bush Drive and Dexter Drive.
  • An advance funding agreement of $323,345 with the Texas Department of Transportation for the city’s contribution for signal improvements that are part of the FM 2818 widening project.

8:15 p.m.

Creekside PUE Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to abandon a 0.15-acre portion of a 20-foot public utility easement in the Creekside Subdivision Phase 1.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:18 p.m.

Masfajitas PUE Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to abandon a 2-foot wide portion of a public utility easement in the the Horse Haven Estates to accommodate a Masfajitas restaurant.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:23 p.m.

Dowling Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural, Office, and Light Commercial to General Commercial for about 15 acres at 95 North Dowling Road B, 101 North Dowling Road A & B, 103 North Dowling Road, and 107 North Dowling Road.

The change better fits the Comprehensive Plan’s designation for more intense uses.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:24 p.m.

Disaster Declaration Extension

The council voted unanimously to consent to extend the mayor’s disaster declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

8:28 p.m.

Standard of Care Ordinance

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to adopt standards of care for the Parks and Recreation Department’s elementary-age youth recreational program.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:59 p.m.

Short-Term Rental Ordinance

After a 2.5-hour discussion, the council decided to continue the consideration of short-term housing rental regulations at a future meeting.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

11:01 p.m.

After the council discussed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again by teleconference on Thursday, June 11.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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 Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council meets Thursday by teleconference for its workshop (no sooner than 5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

The live audio will be streamed on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 998 0711 3729.

If you want to address the council about any agenda item — or about non-agenda topics during Hear Visitors — register with the city secretary before the meeting by calling 979-764-3500 or emailing CSO@cstx.gov before the meeting starts. Written comments submitted to CSO@cstx.gov will be provided to the council members.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Tenant-Based Rental Assistance: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider Tenant-Based Rental Assistance guidelines to assist households unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 disaster declarations. The guidelines would reprogram $475,000 in existing federal grants.
  2. Former Police Station: Another consent item is a three-year, $1.02 million lease of the old police station at 2611 Texas Avenue to International Leadership of Texas.
  3. TxDOT Funding Agreements: The council will consider two advance funding agreements with the Texas Department of Transportation. The city would contribute about $35,000 for signal improvements at the intersection of George Bush and Dexter Drive and $323,345 for signal improvements that are part of the FM 2818 widening project.
  4. Dowling Road Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the zoning from Rural, Office, and Light Commercial to General Commercial for about 15 acres at 95 North Dowling Road B, 101 North Dowling Road A & B, 103 North Dowling Road, and 107 North Dowling Road. The change would better fit the Comprehensive Plan’s designation for more intense uses.
  5. Short-Term Rental Ordinance: The council will consider regulating short-term housing rentals such as Airbnbs. The proposed ordinance would place the units into three categories and restricts the zoning district based on owner occupancy. The directive would also provide clarity on bed-and-breakfast facilities and establishes regular inspections.

Related Links:                                                           

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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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3 water safety resources to help keep your family safe

By Bridget Russell, Aquatics Supervisor

As we approach summer, it is vital to keep your family safe when enjoying water-related activities. Drowning is the country’s fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths, and about one in five who die from drowning are 14 years old or younger.

As Water Safety Month comes to a close, the City of College Station’s Aquatics Division reminds you to be careful around swimming pools, ponds, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Here are a few resources to help keep your family safe this season:

  1. American Red Cross has developed a free, 20-minute online training program called “Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers.” The ARC’s website also offers helpful tips for emergencies and includes important swimming guidelines.
  2. Colin’s Hope is a drowning prevention non-profit organization that provides resources, information, and fundraising to help prevent drowning deaths. Its website offers prevention tips, safety resources, and even a quiz to test your knowledge.    
  3. Pool Safely is a national public education campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce childhood drownings, submersion injuries, and entrapments. Its website offers essential information about safety.

With families spending more time at home, the risk of drowning has increased. It’s crucial to integrate water safety rules into your family’s daily routine.

Stay safe and have a great summer!

 


About the Blogger

Bridget Russell has been with the City of College Station since 2012 and has served as the aquatics supervisor since 2017. She was a lifeguard at Texas A&M for almost three years after serving as an administrative clerk for the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005-11. Bridget earned bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2012) degrees in sport management from A&M.


 

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Sales tax holiday weekend: Save money, water

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

If you’ve had additional time around the house in the last two months, you may have considered sprucing up your landscape with water-efficient plants or replacing your leaky faucets. You just needed a good deal to save a little money.

Thanks to the state comptroller, that deal is here. During this weekend’s sales tax holiday, you can purchase certain water– and energy-efficient products through Memorial Day. The sales tax holiday was created by the legislature in 2015  to incentivize Texans to make the most efficient use of our limited water resources.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the controller tweaked the rules a  bit. You don’t have to make your tax-free purchases in-store since many people now order online and have the products shipped. A complete explanation of how it all works is on the comptroller’s website.

Tax-exempt items are things you can use to help conserve or retain groundwater (where College Station’s water comes from), recharge water tables, or decrease ambient air temperature to reduce evaporation. Highlights include:

  • WaterSense labeled products can be bought for business or personal purposes. Business and rental property owners take note!
  • Soaker or drip-irrigation hoses.
  • Moisture controls for sprinklers or irrigation systems such as a rain shutoff switch or soil moisture sensor.
  • Rain barrels. If a barrel isn’t on your project list now, don’t worry — rainwater harvesting equipment is always exempt from state sales tax.
  • Plants, trees, and grasses.
  • Soil and compost.

WaterSense products go through an independent third-party certification process and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. Having water-saving products in your home or business not only trims your water bill but also delivers exceptional performance for years.

Stay cool this weekend, and enjoy your savings!

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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Parks & Recreation: What’s open and what’s not?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The post was updated on Friday, May 22, to reflect that park water fountains will be on June 1.  

By Kelly Kelbly, Assistant Parks & Recreation Director

As Gov. Greg Abbott continues his plans to open Texas, the College Station Parks and Recreation Department has been making plans for reopening spaces, facilities, and programs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We base our discussions on federal, state, and local guidance to prioritize public health and safety.

Regrettably, budget reductions resulting from a significant decline in sales tax revenue are also a factor. Remember also that phased reopenings aren’t an immediate return to normal operations. They include necessary and appropriate measures to reduce the risks of community transmission.

Here’s a look at our current situation, including some answers to your most frequent questions.

Open Facilities

  • Basketball courts
  • Community and neighborhood parks (Directory)
  • Disc golf courses
  • Dog parks
  • Larry J. Ringer Library
  • Lick Creek Park
  • G. Hysmith Skate Park
  • Pavilions and shelters
  • Playgrounds (use is discouraged)
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • Stephen C. Beachy Central Park office
  • Tennis courts

Facility Reopening Schedule

  • Athletic Fields – June 1 for practices; June 15 for tournaments
  • Lick Creek Nature Center office and restrooms – June 1 (open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 1-6 p.m.)
  • Park restrooms and water fountains – June 1
  • Veterans Park & Athletic Complex – May 23

Remaining Facility Closures

  • Adamson Lagoon
  • Cindy Hallaran Pool
  • Fun For All Playground and splash pad
  • Lincoln Recreation Center
  • Meyer Senior & Community Center
  • Southwood Community Center
  • W.A. Tarrow splash pad

Canceled Summer Programs

  • Tsunami Swim Team
  • American Red Cross Lifeguard Training
  • Water Safety Instructor Certification
  • Swim Lessons
  • 5V5 Basketball League
  • Summer Youth Basketball
  • Summer Softball & Kickball Leagues
  • Starlight Music Series
  • Challenger Bowling
  • Water Aerobics
  • Mini Summer Camps
  • College Station Senior Games (Sept. 25-27)

For your convenience, here are some answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Are playgrounds open?
Yes, but their use is discouraged. Citizens should stay 6 feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with them and follow other CDC guidelines.

Is Lick Creek Park open?
Yes, the trails are open. The office and restrooms will open on June 1. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m-5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-6 p.m.

Is Veterans Park & Athletic Complex open?
The park will open on May 23. The restrooms and athletic fields open on June 1.

When will the pools and splash pads open?
Cindy Hallaran Pool will remain closed for the 2020 season due to budgetary constraints. Adamson Lagoon is closed due to strict CDC guidelines regarding social distancing, sanitization, and staffing requirements. Depending on protocols and governor’s orders, Adamson could open July 6. We’ll decide at the end of June. Splash pads will open when allowed by the governor.

Will you have swimming lessons this year?
No, if we open Adamson in July, staff will focus on proper cleaning and public swimming.

When will the Lincoln Recreation Center’s full-day summer camp open?
We canceled Session 1 due to strict CDC guidelines regarding group sizes, activity restrictions, social distancing, sanitization, and staffing requirements. Depending on protocols and governor’s orders, we might offer session 2 beginning July 6. We’ll decide at the end of June.

When will the Summer Parks Guide be published?
The summer guide will not be published. We are committed to providing updated information through our website.

Who will enforce minimum health protocols for non-city-sponsored youth sports and tournaments?
User groups and tournament organizers are responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing minimum health protocols for their events at our facilities. The city is responsible for sanitizing restrooms, trash cans, and fields.

When will senior adult programming resume?
Senior programming won’t resume until the fall. People 65 years and older and those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

Are dog parks open?
Yes, Barracks, Steeplechase, and University Park are open.

Can you fish at College Station ponds?
Yes, you can fish at Brothers Pond, Cy Miller, John Crompton, and Stephen C. Beachy Central Park ponds. You must have a freshwater fishing stamp if you’re 17 or older. For information on pond stocking, harvest regulations, and license requirements, go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

Are cemeteries open?
Yes, the Aggie Field of Honor and the College Station Cemetery are open for visitation. The hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to sunset, and on Sunday from 6 a.m. to sunset.

We understand the vital role our department plays in our community’s quality of life, especially during these challenging times. We are faithfully working to create healthier, happier, and more connected communities while responsibly addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information, contact us at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Director Kelly Kelbly is in her 19th year with the College Station Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Gilmer, Kelly is a 1998 graduate of Texas A&M.


 

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