Mayor Paul Bond and council members Tom Coale and Alex Jones were sworn in for two-year terms to expire in May 2022. None faced opposition in this spring’s civic election, which was canceled in February due to a lack of challengers.
Bond won reelection coming off his first abbreviated term as mayor, which began last June when he was appointed to the role following former Mayor Jim Kuykendall’s retirement. Coale, who previously served on the council before stepping down in 2017, rejoined the council last year to fill Bond’s vacant seat. Jones will continue in his role after four years on the council following his election in 2016 and reelection in 2018.
Council Member Dawn Candy was also unanimously reelected as mayor pro tem by the council.
Later in the session, Public Works Director Joe Sherwin provided an update on the Robinson Road construction project underway at the city’s western edge. The project, which includes the widening of Robinson around its Patsy Lane intersection and the signalization of the Woodlands Parkway overpass at I-45, has been in progress for several weeks and is scheduled for completion by next spring.
Sherwin said Montgomery County contractors’ temporary closure of Robinson Road for several hundred feet east of Patsy is now expected to end May 20; the county had initially set May 11 as its targeted end date for that portion of work. Sherwin said the delay was caused by the discovery of wet soil in the work zone that was not related to a leak in any city infrastructure.
“They ran into some wet soil where they were setting the inlets,” Sherwin said. “The wet soil was right on the waterline, so they didn’t want damage to get into the waterline.”
Following the current phase of construction, Sherwin said the contractor’s focus will shift to the overpass signalization, which may prove to be a more lengthy portion of the project due to signal timing and component orders.
Officials also discussed tentative plans for the city’s annual Independence Day parade and car show given that gathering restrictions related to COVID-19 may still be in place. Council members suggested holding the parade along an extended route to allow more residents to view the event from their homes and lawns, while eliminating any additional programming at the city’s park following the procession.
“Under the current situation, I think everybody would agree that we can focus on the parade but the gathering at the park and all, we really just can’t facilitate that,” Bond said.
Council members also expressed a desire to open the city parks and pool this spring, with some restrictions in place. City Manager Heather Neeley said the city may remove barriers at parks and allow small group activities such as tennis, while basketball hoops will remain out of service.
Officials said they believed individuals and families should make their own decisions about whether to visit the city pool if it were to reopen, while the city could limit interactions at the facility in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandated 25% capacity limit for outdoor pools.
Council members agreed to move forward with a limited opening for full-day weekend operations, although amenities such as public seating and a concession stand would be removed. The pool would also primarily operate on a reservation basis for pass-holders at least to start the season, although unscheduled visitors would be allowed to enter if the 25% capacity limit is not reached. Neeley said the pool could open as soon as early June.
Neeley also provided an update on the city’s expected sales tax losses stemming from closures related to the coronavirus. The state comptroller’s May data for March sales showed Oak Ridge North’s sales tax payments were down more than 15% over the same monthly period last year, and Neeley said the city is expecting at least a 35% drop from its budgeted sales tax revenues for April. The state comptroller's April data will be released in June.