The Van Alstyne City Council met in regular session Tuesday night, following a one-hour meet-and-greet time for the public to meet and talk with new temporary City Manager Lane Jones.
All council members were present with the exception of Lee Thomas, and council member Robert Jaska opened with an invocation, followed by the traditional pledges of allegiance to the Texas and U.S. flags. There was no one who signed up to talk to the council about items not on the agenda.
First up, then, was a presentation and discussion regarding the Grayson County Master Thoroughfare Plan with information provided by County Commissioner Precinct 1 Jeff Whitmire, County Judge Bill Magers and County Engineer Clay Barnett. Whitmire said that the County and the cities have their thoroughfare plans, but often they don’t necessarily match up. The presentation indicated the need for information to be shared and the plans to be worked on together.
Barnett said that the purpose of the thoroughfare plan is to guarantee the best future growth of Grayson County, to preserve the corridors and help people get from one side of the County to the other. The population of Grayson County, including its 17 towns and cities, was 120,000, and he presented, quickly, the expected growth projects over the next several decades, based on a 2.5 percent yearly increase. And with that growth, and as new developments come in, that Master Plan could have changes in it.
Barnett, and then Magers, talked about funding sources, and identified the existing major roads as farm-to-market roads 160, 121, 902, 120 and highways 82, 75, 69, 289, 377 and a possible Grayson County Tollway.
Magers said that U.S. 75 is the spine of Grayson County. He also said that all money collected on a county-owned toll road would remain in Grayson County. “We have green space now, and if we don’t plan for the future, we won’t, 20 or 30 years from now. We have to plan to take care of the growth.”
The council approved all items on the consent agenda, including the minutes from the past four meetings; renewal of the agreement with Home Hospice of Grayson County for the ambulance service to handle its non-emergency transfer calls and this contract will assure that Van Alstyne gets paid for all those calls, awarding of the contract for the for the relocation of a water line on East Jefferson to JRB Pipeline Services in the amount of $84,110. This involves 760 linear feet of waterline and is a project made mandatory by Texas Department of Transportation, and must be completed by May 1. Public Works Director Steve White said the project will begin shortly.
The council unanimously approved the final plat for a Georgetown Village addition, Stone Hollow Homes, covering 16.10 acres. Council member Suzon Crowell asked about green space, and City Engineer Len McManus said that the plat is in compliance with the applicable ordinance.
Jerry Tomlin, of Atmos Energy Corporation, explained a request for approval of a resolution to change the way in which rates are established for its customers. “We are not asking for a rate increase,” he said. “This is about the process we go through. The change is from giving the cities three months to five months accept the corporation’s suggested rates. There will also be a change in the return of equity, an increase from 50 cents to 70 cents.
Crowell made a motion to deny the request. Before further proceedings, Tomlin explained that if the city does not pass it, Atmos “will be forced to file with the Railroad Commission and the city of Van Alstyne will be required to pay all the costs and fees. The motion died for lack of a second. Then, council members Brad Clough and Robert Jaska motioned and seconded to approve the change. That passed with three voting for it and Crowell against.
Next up was an item involving the authorization of the issuance and sale of a tax note, levying an annual ad valorem tax to pay for it, and “enacting other provisions relating to the subject.” No amount or use of the money was mentioned from the council table. This was approved by all except Clough, who abstained.
The council approved requests from Parks & Recreation Board to seek funding from the Community Development for a dog park at Forrest Moore Park and for new benches and lighting at Dorothy Fielder Park.
The dog park, if CDC approves funding, will be built at an unused volleyball court. Jaska abstained, as he is also on the CDC Board of Directors.
The council approved an unbudgeted emergency expense of $98,129 made necessary to repair Well No. 4.
Jones told of his first week on the job, saying, “I’ve been very busy, meeting with many good hardworking employees, community leaders, contractors, all of them welcoming. He has met individually and again in a department head staff meeting with all department heads, and toured the city with Police Chief Tim Barnes and with White, and plans the same tour with Fire Chief Ryan Dockery.
Administration — City Clerk Jennifer Gould said they will be bringing the final financial audit to the council in May. City Hall will be closed on March 30, which is Good Friday.
Police Department — Barnes said he has filled one of the three patrol openings and that new officer will start next week. Also they are still looking to hire a School Resource Officer. On April 28, the department will have a take-back program for out-of-use, unwanted prescription medications. People can take those to the police station on North Preston between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Public Works — White said they have been patching up potholes; that Grayson County will be starting Monday on repairing some streets, starting with the smaller ones, and the downtown striping project will be started and hopefully finished Saturday and Sunday. “We’ll be taking samples for bacteria on Well No. 4, and when that is clear, the well will be operational.” He added that the city had a large number of water use disconnects in February.
City Engineer — McManus said that construction on the 62 lots which received the final plat approval at that meeting should begin within 30 days. The paving will begin around the new elementary school within 60 days. And the council should be looking at a 136-acre, 400-lot development at its April meeting. This will be off Jim Jones Road.
Fire — Dockery said they filled out all their staffing vacancies; and that they received an $8,000 gramt from the Texas Forrestry Service to be used for training.
Jaska reminded the crowd that Meet the Candidates will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Grayson College, and that Music in the Park, produced by the Chamber of Commerce, will begin in May.
The council went into closed session to discuss a request from the Economic Development Corporation to purchase land. It was a short meeting, with Salmon stating upon their return the item was tabled until they could call a special meeting for that purpose. After the meeting, she said that special meeting could be as soon as Saturday and the agenda will be posted, as always, on the city’s Website — cityofvanaltyne.us.