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Public works boosts our community’s quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Manager

Most of us take for granted that our trash will be picked up on time, our drinking water will be clean, and our public facilities will be adequately maintained. But College Station’s public works infrastructure, facilities, and services wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated professionals of the Public Works Department.

Efficient and professional public works programs manage our streets, traffic operations, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling, and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health, and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 60th annual National Public Works Week, which celebrates the thousands of men and women across the United States and Canada who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services known as public works.

This year’s theme is “The Rhythm of Public Works,” which makes us think about our community as a symphony of essential services, working in concert to create a great place to live. Every city has a rhythm, a heartbeat that reflects its essence and tempo of life.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city in Texas to be nationally accredited in both public works and water services? Administered by the American Public Works Association, the accreditation program recognizes agencies that go beyond the requirements of established industry practices.

The College Station Public Works Department consists of eight divisions — Facility Maintenance, Streets, Drainage and Irrigation Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Solid Waste/Recycling, Fleet Services, and Administration. Our employees deliver essential services and maintain the infrastructure that allows our community to grow and prosper.

About Public Works Week

Since 1960, the APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week as a way for its 30,000 members to educate the public on the importance of public works in their daily lives. The occasion is marked each year with scores of resolutions and proclamations from mayors, governors, and presidents.

As we observe National Public Works Week, we honor and thank the employees of our Public Works and Water Services departments for their professionalism, hard work, and the high level of dedicated service they provide to our community every day.

 

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 33rd year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


 

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3 steps to make sure you’re ready for a flash flood

By David Vaughn, Engineering Program Specialist

Did you know flash flooding is the No. 1 cause of weather-related damage in Texas? Sadly, our great state often leads the nation in flood-related deaths.

As part of Texas Flood Awareness Week, the City of College Station reminds residents to be prepared.  Heavy rain and coastal storms can overburden our drainage systems and structures and lead to flood events. Knowing what to do before, during, and after significant storms can prevent or limit property damage, injuries, and loss of life. 

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. They can develop slowly or happen with little or no warning. In either case, staying informed and anticipating such events is essential. 

If you live in a flood-prone or low-lying area, preparing for such emergencies is even more crucial. Here are three steps you can take today to make sure you’re ready:

1. Stay Informed

  • Know your flood risk. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center online or call the Planning and Development Services Department (979-764-3570) and ask for a review engineer to learn more about your property. 
  • Learn and rehearse evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash-flood response.
  • Monitor weather forecasts and be aware of signs of potential flooding, such as heavy rain.

2. Take Action

  • Purchase flood insurance if necessary. It usually takes 30 days for a new insurance policy to go into effect, so it’s important to buy well before a disaster occurs.
  • Make a photographic inventory of your valuables for insurance purposes.
  • Keep valuable documents in a waterproof container and make digital copies when possible.

3. Gather Supplies 

  • Have a potable water supply that will last at least three days. You need one gallon of water per day for each person or pet in your household.
  • Have enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food to last at least three days. Examples include canned meat and beans, nuts, nut butters and spreads, dry cereals and granola, and protein bars.
  • Keep structural supplies on hand such as sandbags, plywood or lumber, and plastic sheeting.
  • Make sure your flashlights and lanterns have good batteries. 
  • Always have a well-stocked first-aid kit.

If you’re adequately prepared, you enhance your chances of staying safe and protecting your property. That’s what Texas Flood Awareness Week is all about.

 


About the Blogger

David Vaughn recently joined Planning and Development Services as an engineering program specialist. He previously worked as an environmental coordinator for FedEx Express from 2015-20. A native of Silsbee, David earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Sam Houston State in 2016.


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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (May 14)

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 14. It’s not the official minutes.

The live audio will be streamed on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom (passcode 200514) or call 888-475-4499 (meeting number 912 7257 8218).

6:07 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:12 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

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

  • Cemetery Maintenance Shop: The proposed $160,000 contract will include project evaluation, conceptual design, design development, final design and documentation, bidding, and construction services for the new maintenance shop at the College Station Memorial Cemetery. The project’s cost is covered through the Memorial Cemetery Fund.
  • Recycling Franchise Agreement: Tonight is the first 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.

6:25 p.m.

Central Park Expansion

The council discussed the conversion of about 59 acres of city-owned property into parkland for expanding Stephen C. Beachy Central Park to about 106 acres. The council will vote on the conversion as part of the regular meeting’s consent agenda.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

6:29 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.

6:36 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:41 p.m.

National Public Works Week

The mayor proclaimed May 17-23 as National Public Works Week.

6:48 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people 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 troubling decline in complaints against the police department in recent years. He was concerned that total complaints have fallen significantly — despite rapid population growth — and asked the council to look into the matter. (Mr. Flash’s comments were edited May 28 to provide clarifying context).
  • Derek Arredondo asked the city to better support youth baseball.

6:50 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A contract not to exceed $165,129 with Air Cleaning Technologies for installing vehicle exhaust removal systems at three fire stations.
  • A $160,000 contract with Arkitex Studio for design and construction consultation for a new maintenance shop at College Station Memorial Cemetery.
  • A five-year residential recycling collection franchise agreement and general service agreement not to exceed $4.54 million with BVR Waste and Recycling.
  • The first 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.
  • A $3.79 million contract with Larry Young Paving for the construction of Royder Road Phase 2.
  • An ordinance changing the posted speed limit to 50 mph on Wellborn Road from about 600 feet north of Victoria Avenue to about 2,600 feet south of Victoria Avenue during the Royder Road Phase 2 project.
  • An inter-local agreement with the Wellborn Special Utility District for its cost participation in the Royder Road Phase 2 project.
  • A $273,243.41 change order for the contract with Thalle Construction Company for the Lick Creek Trunk Line.
  • The conversion of 40.5 acres of greenway and 18.8 acres of city-owned property to parkland to be added to the existing 47.1 acres of Stephen C. Beachy Central Park. The total park acreage will be 106.4 acres.

7:01 p.m.

Economic Development Master Plan

The council voted unanimously to adopt the updated Economic Development Master Plan as part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The original Economic Development Master Plan was adopted in 2013.

The plan is designed to ensure that growth and development advance the city’s economic development objectives. The process also enhances College Station’s goal of “ensuring a diversified economy; generating quality, stable, full-time jobs; bolstering the sales and property tax base; and contributing to a high quality of life.”

In developing the plan, staff engaged with local residents, business owners and operators, and community leaders to understand their vision and to review and formulate pragmatic strategies.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

7:37 p.m.

Impact Fee Credit Policy

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a credit policy for system-wide roadway, water, and wastewater impact fees. The policy establishes standards for determining projects for which credit is eligible, the process requirements for obtaining credit, and the methods for applying credit to projects.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:28 p.m.

Impact Fees Policy Update

The council voted 3-3 on an update of system-wide impact fee policies. In a tie vote, the motion fails:

  • The city shall update its land use assumptions and capital improvements plans at least every five years, commencing approximately from the date of adoption of such plans, and shall recalculate the impact fees based thereon in accordance with the procedures set forth in Chapter 395 of the Texas Local Government Code, or in any successor statute.
  • The city may review its land use assumptions, impact fees, capital improvements plans and other factors such as market conditions more frequently than provided in subsection (a) to determine whether the land use assumptions and capital improvements plans should be updated and the impact fee recalculated accordingly, or whether the maximum allowable or assessable impact fees as set out in Exhibits H, M, or R herein, or the imposed impact fees or collection rates set out in Exhibits I, N, or S herein should be changed. Imposed impact fees or collection rates may be amended without revising land use assumptions and capital improvements plans at any time prior to the update provided for in subsection (a), provided that the impact fees to be collected do not exceed the maximum allowable or assessable impact fees assessed.
  • If at the time an update is required pursuant to subsection (a) the city council determines that no change to the land use assumptions, capital improvements plan or impact fee is needed, it may dispense with such update by following the procedures in Texas Local Government Code § 395.0575.
  • The city may amend by resolution the imposed impact fees or collection rates set out in Exhibits I, N, or S herein, at any time prior to the update provided for in subsection (a), provided that the number of service units associated with a particular land use shall not be increased.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:28 p.m.

The council is taking a short break.

8:38 p.m.

The meeting has resumed.

9:13 p.m.

Roadway Impact Fees

The council voted unanimously to not conduct a public hearing at the May 28 city council meeting to consider changing the collection rate per service unit for roadway impact fees.

9:21 p.m.

Police Station Under Budget

The council voted unanimously to approve a $403,836 reduction in the contract with Vaughn Construction for the new police station, completing the project under its original $29.5 million budget.

10:11 p.m.

Thoroughfare Plan Amendments

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s Thoroughfare Plan by modifying the alignment of a future minor arterial between Koppe Bridge Road and Clay Pit Road and by removing a future minor collector between the Meadow Creek Subdivision and Minter Springs Road.

The roads are located in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. 

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:16 p.m.

Burgess Lane Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural and Planned Development District to Business Park for about six acres at 8822 and 8850 Burgess Lane. The property is part of the proposed Fujifilm campus expansion.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:21 p.m.

Biomedical Way ROW Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to abandon a 0.693-acre portion of right-of-way southeast of the intersection of HSC Parkway and Biomedical Way to allow for the expansion of the Fujifilm development.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:29 p.m.

COVID-19 Relief

The council voted unanimously to approve amendments to the city’s 2015-19 Consolidated Plan that allow the city to more quickly and efficiently address local needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic with federal funds.

The city is entitled to receive $697,507 in additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) funds from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in Fiscal Year 2019 and has prepared substantial amendments to the Citizen Participation Plan, 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan and the 2019 Annual Action Plan to secure those funds.

Community Development staff consulted with counselors from CSISD and 2-1-1 to determine the most requested assistance. Additionally, a public survey was conducted to determine how important these identified needs were as well as requesting input about additional needs.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:37 p.m.

After the council discussed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again by teleconference on Thursday, May 28.

 


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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Video: Thank You to the COVID-19 Pandemic Heroes

– Public Communications Office

 

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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 (about 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.us/j/91272578218, or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 912 7257 8218.

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. Central Park Expansion: In the workshop, the council will discuss converting about 59 acres of greenway and city-owned property into parkland for expanding Stephen C. Beachy Central Park to about 106 acres. The council will vote on the conversion as part of the regular meeting’s consent agenda.
  2. Royder Road Project: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $3.8 million contract with Larry Young Paving for the second phase of the Royder Road project, which will widen and realign the road from Backwater Drive to Wellborn Road. A related consent item lowers the speed limit from 60 mph to 50 mph in the construction zone along Wellborn Road.
  3. Police Station Under Budget: In the regular meeting, the council will consider a $403,836 reduction in the contract with Vaughn Construction for the new police station, which will complete the project under its original $29.5 million budget.
  4. Impact Fees: The council will consider several items related to roadway, water, and wastewater impact fees, including updates, a credit policy, and an adjustment to the roadway fee collection rate. The credit policy discussion will include a public hearing.
  5. COVID-19 Relief: The council will consider amendments to the city’s 2015-19 Consolidated Plan to allow the city to more quickly and efficiently address local needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic with federal funds.

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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Metallic balloons and power lines don’t mix

black and red metal rod

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

With social distancing in place because of the COVID-19 outbreak, people are finding new ways to celebrate events and milestones without the typical parties and get-togethers.

And what’s a birthday or graduation without balloons, especially those shiny, helium-filled foil balloons that are all the rage. They are called Mylar balloons and come in various shapes and sizes and can represent numbers and letters.

Unfortunately, they can also be hazardous.

When released, these festive balloons can get caught in high voltage power lines. The metallic coating conducts electricity and causes short circuits when entangled in power lines.

Stray Mylar balloons entangled in overhead lines in the last week caused two electric outages for hundreds of College Station residents. Such disruptions can cover a large area for two hours or more while we clear the balloons and repair damaged equipment.

Power outages not only inconvenience our customers, but they also jeopardize public safety and cause lost revenue for businesses. Two years ago, a stray balloon caused an outage and lengthy delay during a Major League Baseball game at Dodger Stadium.

This recent report by an Arizona news station illustrates the issue:

College Station Utilities offers five tips to help prevent outages when celebrating birthdays, graduations and other events with Mylar balloons:

  1. Never allow Mylar balloons to be released outside. Keep the balloons indoors when possible.
  2. Make sure Mylar balloons are securely tied to a weight heavy enough to keep them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  3. Don’t bundle Mylar balloons together.
  4. When your celebration is over, cut the balloons up and throw them away. Even a semi-inflated balloon can become airborne.
  5. Never try to retrieve anything that gets caught in a power line.

To report objects caught in power lines, call 911. To report outages, call 855-528-4278, and have your account number ready.

 


0000072EPAbout the Blogger

CSU Energy Coordinator Patrick McIntyre is responsible for energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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