Addison experienced spring-like weather all week and it looks like we missed most of the damaging weather; however, it is still spring in North Texas so please keep a very watchful eye on the various media and be alert to severe weather conditions.
During a fairly brief Council Work Session the Council made appointments to our new Master Transportation Plan Advisory Committee. The Council approved the following residents to serve on the committee: Gail Cook, Michael Delima, Ilene Cohen, Jay Ihrig, Gary McIntyre, Elliott Moore, John Morgan, Tom Souers and Richard Teza. They approved following members of our business community to serve: Heather Ferry and Denise Witry. There will likely be 3-4 more folks added before the committee’s work actually begins the middle of next month. A special Addison thank you in advance to each of these folks who are willing to serve and take on a very large project and challenge. We all will benefit from your hard work.
After our pledge we began our Regular Session with a few very important announcements. The first was that our City Manager Wes Pierson was not at our meeting so he could be with his wife for the birth of their new son who arrived just a few minutes before our meeting began weighing in at just over seven pounds. Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney very ably filled in for Wes and continued with our announcements which included the announcement that for the 29th consecutive year Addison has won the prestigious GFOA Distinguished Budget Award. Cheryl was quick to give credit to our staff for all their hard work and she singled out in particular Caitlan Smelley and Paul DeBuff in our Finance Department. We had also planned to highlight recent promotions in our Police Department; however, most of that team was called away on an emergency call, so we will reschedule that important recognition.
Jay Ihrig, president of the Addison Arbor Foundation, gave us an update on the soon-to-be-installed new public art sculpture of two, almost three feet tall life-like doves on top of an eight-foot-tall rock that will soon be installed in Oaks North. The sculptor, Jim Eppler, is the same one who did the jack rabbits located near the intersection of Beltway and Proton in our Les Lacs Park that have become a neighborhood favorite, especially with kids.
We had one speaker for our Public Comment Section, Guillermo Quintanilla, who spoke on government transparency and made political statements expressing opposition to several candidates for the upcoming City Council Election. So as not to mischaracterize Mr. Quintanilla’s statement, you can watch it here.
After the Public Comment section we celebrated the retirement of City Prosecutor Larry McCallum. Larry not only attended school here in Addison at our Public School that is now the Magic Time Machine, but he also served as our City Attorney many years ago before he was appointed as the City Prosecutor in our Municipal Court. We presented Larry with a small token of our appreciation and the crowd gave him a very warm standing ovation to let him know how much we appreciate his 43 years of service to Addison.
Given the severe weather storm alerts we received that afternoon, we moved fairly quickly through the balance of our short agenda. Our consent agenda included the approval of minutes of our March 22 meeting, amendments to our Health and Sanitation ordinances and approval of a lease reassignment at Addison Airport for Cutter Aviation.
Our first regular item was the unanimous approval of the formation of our Master Transportation Plan Advisory Committee and the appointments discussed during our Work Session earlier in the evening.
The Council then unanimously approved an incentive agreement with Beltline Beltway Investments, Ltd. and Urban Intownhomes, LLC for the Addison Grove Redevelopment project at 4150 Belt Line Road. This is the infrastructure reimbursement agreement for the former 17-plus-acre Sam’s Wholesale Club property. This formal agreement is entirely consistent with the agreement tentatively reached in January that limits the infrastructure reimbursement to $6.5 million of actual expenses properly documented and submitted to and approved by the Town. The infrastructure reimbursement will be controlled by the following:
- a maximum of $250,00 of the total incentive will be given in the nature of permit/development fee waivers,
- a maximum of $1,000,000 for infrastructure qualifying for funding from our utility fund,
- a maximum of $1,000,000 for infrastructure qualifying for funding from our stormwater fund,
- a maximum of $4,250,000 to provide funding for street and park development.
The total estimated project cost is $86,663,450 and the estimated ad valorem value is $121,200,00. The multi-use development will consist of approximately 20,000 square feet of retail, 17 live/work units, 161 townhomes and not more than 330 luxury multi-family units.
Our next agenda item was the receipt of our audit report from outside consultants Weaver on our FY15 financial statements. They delivered an unmodified opinion noting two areas of material weaknesses. We have attached a link to the presentation and, of course, you are welcome to come by and request a paper copy if you like.
In more good news, we learned that we have been able to retain our AAA bond rating from S&P and our AA1 rating from Moody’s for our new debt refinancing project. Given all that we have been through, this is a major accomplishment and an important external independent endorsement that our Finance Department is on the right track now. This reflects very well and recognizes the hard work of all in our financial services department and our City Management team, as well as the consistently conservative and prudent financial practices encouraged by Council.
The Council also formally accepted the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report known as the CAFR that is also available for your review on our website here.
Our final regular session item of the evening was the presentation and discussion of the Final Report from Kanter Forensics, LLC on the process and practices of our financial services department. Mr. Kanter’s very positive report is linked for you here. It is certainly worth watching if you have followed our almost two year journey with him as he helped identify major areas of weakness and opportunities for us to improve our financial process and practices. After highlighting a few of his 32 recommendations, Mr. Kanter heaped praise on our staff starting with our City Manager for setting the tone at the top and embracing Mr. Kanter’s mission. Mr. Kanter specifically thanked and praised a number of our financial service professionals for their commitment and hard work implementing many of the recommendations.
One of the remaining unresolved issues was his recommendation that going forward we establish an internal audit function that periodically reports directly to the Council Finance Committee. There was discussion about whether that function should be performed by an external third party or an internal professional with direct report liaison to the Council, much like our City Attorney and City Secretary. The Council and staff will work together to resolve the issue and give an update on all of the excellent progress made on the 32 recommendations at a Council meeting very soon.
We covered a few matters in Executive Session that included the acquisition of the final two tracts of land necessary to complete our undergrounding of utilities on Belt Line Road, legal issues related to the Super 8 Motel at 4150 Beltway and a very extensive conversation about finalizing the Addison Grove Development agreement that we subsequently resolved and approved in public session as noted above.
We also reviewed legal matters related to Vitruvian Park located within the vicinity and east of the intersection of Vitruvian Way and Ponte Avenue and Farmers Branch Creek. We have received a copy of a very aggressive letter addressed to Caroline Sweeney, Deputy Director for the Texas Commission on Water Quality or TCEQ, which reads in part, “Farmers Branch reiterates its request that the TCEQ immediately recommence enforcement, and compel Addison to comply and sanction it for its past and continued noncompliance.” This letter was signed by Farmers Branch Mayor Bob Phelps. Needless to say we are taking this matter very seriously. You may recall that this letter relates to work performed several years ago in the early stages of the development of Vitruvian Park. We will keep you informed as best we can as we proceed.
The Addison Conference Centre continues to play a very important role in our overall economic development strategy. Last Saturday I welcomed the Northeastern Texas Council of Girls Scouts for their 9th annual meeting to our Conference Centre and thanked them for selecting Addison for the site of their very large event. Over 250 Girl Scout volunteers and leaders met to discuss future opportunities and to strategize ways to continue to improve the Girl Scout experience. The Girls Scouts of North Texas is the premier leadership development organization, serving nearly 27,000 girls in Northeast Texas with programs focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), financial literacy, healthy living and outdoor leadership. I, of course, shared with them the amazing highlights of our resurgent Addison economy, invited them to sample as many of our 180 restaurants as possible and to come back to Addison often, especially for Taste Addison coming up on May 13-15.
Then later on Saturday afternoon I stopped by to see the folks at the Suzuki Music School to thank them for making plans to hold future performances at the Addison Conference Centre. These are just two of the many examples of the important role our Conference Centre plays in helping us continue to elevate the profile and prestige of Addison and to keep our local economy energized.
The Addison Arbor Foundation continues to find creative ways to make our Town look good! Check out the very nice landscaping that has completed the public art installation in Parkview Park over near Addison Circle; the aggregate of all these details raises the bar all over Town.
On Monday afternoon I joined Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney, Police Chief Paul Spencer, Assistant Police Chief Chad Hanson, Captain Mike Vincent and Lieutenant Blake Potts for a tour of the new space that will be our Vitruvian Park Police Storefront located at 4015 Vitruvian Way, just across the street from the Fiori and the beautiful amphitheater in our Vitruvian Park.
Tom Lambeth, Vice President – Development of UDR, and his team have been working to prepare this space for our officers and should have it open by June 1. This has been a project we have been working on for the last couple of years and Tom and Police Chief Spencer finally found just the right spot.
Tom and UDR are doing all of the upgrades and finish out of the space at “no charge” to Addison and the very attractive monthly rate will be $0. Just another great example of how our public private partnership is working so well for our entire community.
On Thursday afternoon Addison Legacy Foundation Board Chair Blake Clemens called our group to order for our monthly meeting. Board members Tamela Thornton, Debbie Staggs, JJ Horan, Bob Heckman, Bob Kantner and Chick Martin reviewed administrative issues, received an update on brand management, discussed visioning and forward-looking goals and objectives, talked about a funding plan for our Big Idea and brainstormed how to fold that into our Master Transportation planning process. We also discussed some exciting plans for the fundraising run to be held at Vitruvian Park on December 2, along with progress on raising money for the restoration of our 1930 Fire Truck. As you can see this group is very actively engaged in several very worthwhile Addison projects. I am very proud of their hard work and creative efforts, a good group of folks.
Monday May 2 from 11:30am – 1pm: Please come join us at Snuffers restaurant located at 4180 Belt Line Road for our First Monday of the Month Economic Development Luncheon. This is just a small way we show our local restaurants support for choosing Addison as their location and at the same time we enjoy getting to know our neighbors better.
Wednesday, May 4, 10am: First Wednesday of the Month Coffee with the Mayor, Dunn Bros. at 3725 Belt Line Road. I will be buying the coffee and looking forward to answering your questions. This is always a fun and informative event because the questions are always so good. I hope you will plan to join us.
Thursday, May 5, 6pm – 10pm: Right next door to Snufffers at 4180 Belt Line Road come celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Taqueria La Ventana with live music and more fun. You can see a list of other Addison Cinco de Mayo events here.
Saturday, May 7, 7am – 7pm: Election Day. Early Voting continues through Tuesday, May 3. Get all the details here.
I hope you have a great weekend and take a few moments to look around. We have it very good in Addison: a business friendly community with a growing tax base, excellent compensation for our employees who continue to provide very high levels of service, a growing portfolio of amenities for our residents, lots of opportunities for fun, a long list of ways to volunteer and be a part of our community, a very safe place and all at a very reasonable tax rate. All is well in Addison, Texas.
See you soon,