Council approves several infrastructure projects around city… part 2

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Council meeting continued…

by A.C. Hall

Many infrastructure projects faced the White Settlement City Council at their meeting last week.  One such project was Cherry Lane, which is nearing completion of a $1 million reconstruction.  However, some unforeseen issues are causing a snag as the project comes to its final phase.
“It cannot be completed because we did not, on the front end of this project, get a survey done by an engineer that meets TXDOT’s requirements,” Assistant City Manager Jeff James told the council.
City Manager Jim Ryan said this project was started by the Project Manager who is no longer with the city and that they only became aware of the survey requirement recently.  The survey will be for the section of Cherry Lane running from Scott Street to I-30.  Council unanimously approved the survey at a cost not to exceed $6,000.  They also unanimously approved $47,000 for the paving improvements to complete that stretch of Cherry Lane.
Improvements to the parking lot of the White Settlement Fire Station were also discussed.  This project would cost $93,713 and would replace the asphalt section of the parking lot with concrete.  James spoke about the weight of the firetrucks as well as everyday things like heat and rain causing damage to asphalt and creating the need for frequent repairs.  He went on to speak about the longevity of concrete.
“This is planning out for the next twenty years,” James said.
The existing 2013 tax note was identified as a way to pay for this project.  Mayor Ronald A. White asked what the balance of that fund was, commenting that it might be getting a little low.  He was informed that there was around a million dollars remaining in the 2013 tax note.  Council member Danny Anderson stated that the whole reason the 2013 tax note was passed was to do infrastructure projects and upgrades like the one being proposed.
A motion was made to approve the fire station parking lot upgrades.  That motion passed unanimously.
Upgrades to the traffic signal light on Cherry Lane outside of Co-Operative Industries and the new Region 11 building also saw unanimous approval from the council.  This $35,000 project would see the traffic signal upgraded to the traffic camera system being used at several lights around the City.  Assistant City Manager James was quick to clear up any confusion about the nature of these cameras.
“This is not a red light camera,” James said.  “We do not in the City of White Settlement do any type of ticketing off of cameras at red lights.”
James went on to explain that these cameras sense when too many cars are piling up at an intersection and signal the light to cycle to green.  He stated that there are plans to upgrade all the traffic signals in the city to this system, but right now they see a need for it at this intersection thanks to the added traffic from Region 11.
“We did not anticipate the traffic volume that’s driven by Region 11,” James said.
The largest infrastructure project before the council was the stretch of Meadow Park from the bridge by City Hall up to the light at White Settlement Road.  There have been severe issues on that road in recent months, and James told the council they’ve done repairs on it multiple times.  The reason given for the ongoing problems was work done on the road that wasn’t done properly.
Mayor White asked if there was any way the city could go after the contractor who did the faulty work.  Ryan told him that there have been a series of jobs done for the city with a lesser quality of work.  He shared more about these jobs as the discussion continued.
“We’ve also found those jobs to have no guarantees and no bonds,” Ryan said.
Anderson pointed out that this work and these types of contracts were done before Ryan and James were in their positions as city leaders and aren’t something they were involved with.
The easily damaged nature of asphalt was again discussed, with the longevity of concrete being brought up once more.
“We need to fix this the right way,” James said.
Ryan made a suggestion to go ahead and upgrade the traffic signal at the Meadow Park/White Settlement Road intersection to the new camera system since the city will be doing work here anyway.  A motion was made to approve this project at a cost of $250,000.  That motion passed unanimously.
Council unanimously approved allowing NASJRB’s use of Veteran’s Park on Aug. 1 for a Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration.  The motion also included authorization for city staff to assist with the parade and all other festivities going on surrounding the event.
The large scale of this event was discussed, with City Manager Ryan saying it may take outside help to handle things like crowd control and other elements.
“Whatever we can do, we need to do,” council member Steve Ott said.
This event is expected to draw people from all over the area. Following up on a workshop earlier this month, council voted unanimously to do away with a code of ethics for elected officials and board and committee members.  This ordinance was described as redundant by several on the council at the workshop in early June as it’s the third ethics document that governs elected officials behavior.  The next move discussed by council is to combine the existing ethics document with ethics wording in the City Charter with the possibility of strengthening some of the punishments for council members who break the rules.
Ann Smith, Pat Wirsing, and Jerry Burns were all unanimously reappointed to the Economic Development Corporation board.