May general election slated to be historic[/caption]
History will be made in Southlake in the May 9 election as two women—Mayor Pro Tem Laura Hill, a publisher, and councilwoman Carolyn Morris, a professional educator—face off to see who will become the city's first female mayor since the city was incorporated in 1956.
Also on Southlake's ballot is a proposition to fund Phase 2 of a multimillion-dollar recreation center using sales tax revenue.
Colleyville voters will also be a part of history when they cast their votes in the upcoming election to determine the future of a potential 10-year reconstruction project of a major thoroughfare.
Glade Road is a major artery in Colleyville with a daily traffic count of about 17,000 vehicles, and according to city officials, it will continue to grow.
"Glade Road is one of our major east-west thoroughfares, and it isn't designed for the traffic volumes we are seeing now," Colleyville Mayor David Kelly said. "So it was essentially a small rural road, but we've seen a lot of growth in the last 10 to 15 years. So we see we need to do some improvements in terms of safety to help mitigate the traffic we are seeing now."
To address Glade Road's increasing traffic the City Council began exploring ways to improve safety and capacity issues in 2012 and in 2014 a preliminary plan of potential improvements was created. In May voters will decide if the city will proceed with the plan or if another plan is needed.
The City Council and a group of residents have been clashing over the road as more details on the reconstruction project, which would begin at River Bend Drive and end at Heritage Avenue, began to arise through a series of public forums and meetings that were held in 2013 and 2014.
Some of the hundreds of residents that showed up to these meetings voiced concerns about proposals of adding medians, widening the road and filling in drainage ditches that would result in the potential loss of mature trees and/or possible flooding of homes. They were also against adding any sidewalk or trail along the north side of Glade Road. Some of those residents also put up signs along Glade Road that said "Protect Glade Road" and started a Facebook page in opposition.
The preliminary design, which was presented last summer, includes two roundabouts, one at the intersection with Bransford Road and the other at Riverwalk Drive. It also includes lowering the intersection at Bluebonnet Drive to improve the line-of-sight and eliminate the need of a three-way stop. Bedford Road would also be realigned to line up with Oak Timbers Court.
City officials say the way the preliminary plan is structured, the project will be phased over approximately 10 years and cost about $20 million.
"The current plan is to use cash [to fund the project] and we put this in our tax incremental financing district," Kelly said. "So based on the cash receipts it would take approximately 10 years [to finish the project]. We don't want to have the entire Glade Road torn up. So that's why we were looking at phasing [the project] because we would be paying cash only versus taking on any debt."
On Oct. 6, 2014 a petition with more than 800 signatures led by residents Bobby Lindamood and Elizabeth Zeitlin, who are both running for City Council in the May election, was received by the city containing a resolution that would limit work on the project.
On Oct. 21 the council voted unanimously to send the petition's resolution, and the future of the Glade Road project, to the May 9 election.
"If it does pass, according to the city attorney, we will not be able to do any work that is outside the scope of the current roadway," Kelly said. "So we could work with the current roadway as it is, but we could not make any changes outside of that roadway. So the proposal to take down the stop sign at Bluebonnet we couldn't do, and the proposal to do roundabouts in a couple of areas we couldn't do because it would change the current scope."
At the Oct. 21 council meeting, Lindamood told the council that he hoped the council would not pass the petition-related resolution so that the matter could be brought to residents in the form of a vote.
"We have tried to work this out with you many times because we didn't want it to come to this," Lindamood said. "We just want to be heard. The way you let people have their voice is through a vote. It's the democratic way."
Located at the southwest corner of Bicentennial Park,
Phase 1 of Southlake's community recreation center, The Marq, broke ground last September and is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Before construction of Phase 2 can begin, voters are being asked to consider repurposing an existing sales tax revenue source to fund construction costs and offset a portion of the operating costs of the facility.
The proposition asks voters to approve reducing the Crime Control Prevention District tax from half of a cent to one-eighth of a cent. The remaining three-eighths of a cent would be repurposed to create a Type A economic development corporation tax.
"If that were not to pass we would have to go back to the drawing board to see how we could fund it," Terrell said. "However, I see very little chance of it not passing, and the reason is pretty simple: It is not a new tax— it is a reallocation and repurposing of an existing tax. It's really important for all of our citizens to know that our sales tax is paid 75 percent by people outside the city."
Terrell said the CCPD tax was mainly to build the city's Department of Public Safety facilities.
"We built the west facility, the downtown facility and the north facility. We don't have any more [public safety] facilities on our drawing board," Terrell said. "So now the purpose for that crime control tax other than the School Resource Officer Program, which is still remaining, is done. We accomplished what we set out to do with that tax."
The $15 million Phase 1 was paid for in cash by the city. However Terrell said that was not a feasible option for Phase 2.
"We could have saved [funds to build Phase 2]," he said. "The problem would have been that we would have been waiting for many years before we could have saved for Phase 2, and it just so happens that the crime control [tax] expires in 2018 so it was going to have to be reauthorized anyway. So the best thing to do was to take care of it right now."
Terrell added that the tax, if approved, would be an ongoing tax that could be used for other economic development ventures once The Marq is paid off. According to Sharen Jackson, chief financial officer, the city plans on issuing 20-year bonds for the construction of Phase 2.
If approved Phase 2 construction is expected to begin in 2016.