The Waxahachie City Council recently met in a specially called work session to discuss a direction for several items. Due to scheduling conflicts at city-owned facilities, the session was held off-site at Community National Bank and Trust’s community room.
Below is a snapshot of each topic’s discussion. The Sun livestreamed the video, which can be viewed on its Facebook page.
Lake Parks master plan
Michael Black, La Terra Studio CEO, gave the council an overview of the Lake Parks master plan project, which includes Spring, Jetti, and Boat Dock parks. In November 2020, the council approved a proposal for architectural design services with La Terra Studio to create the master plan.
Black said they have evaluated each park to see what amenities it offers and how to improve it. Through the analysis, La Terra Studio found each park offered the same time of amenities such as a boat launch. With the master plan, he said they hope to give each park a unique identity. Some proposed upgrades include having separated swimming area separated from boaters, a boardwalk, improved parking, and an area to launch non-motorized boats.
City charter revisions
In July, the city council members expressed an interest in updating the city’s charter, including looking at having an elected mayor rather than one appointed by the council. The last time the charter was changed was in a 2019 election, when the council went from an at-large method of electing council members to that of a numbered position/place. State law dictates that 730 days (two years) must pass before the next charter election can be held.
During the workshop, council members Melissa Olson, Place 3, and Travis Smith, Place 5, expressed a desire still for the charter to be reviewed. Council member David Hill, Place 1, Mayor Doug Barnes, and Mayor Pro-Tem Billie Wallace were of the mindset, however, to leave the charter in its current form, seeing no benefit to change it at this time.
Policy for naming city facilities
Due to the recent issues surrounding the naming of the new city hall annex to be built across from City Hall on Rogers Street, council members agreed to establish a policy on the naming of city facilities.
The July 19 city council meeting agenda had listed an item to name the annex after long time council member and former mayor, Chuck Beatty. However, the item was abruptly withdrawn by Barnes at the meeting without explanation. Beatty served on the council for more than 26 years and was the only minority council member. He lost a re-election bid to Smith.
Speaker time limits
Council members discussed imposing a time limit during the public comments section at the regular city council meetings. Discussion indicated a need to set a limit to keep a meeting moving forward while still providing everyone an opportunity to speak. The council came to a consensus to impose a five-minute time limit per speaker.
Security measures at City Hall
The council was given the recommendations from a third-party review of security at City Hall, which include checking outdoor lighting, implementing safety training on an annual basis for employees, restricting access to employee areas, updating signage for visitors, enhancing outdoor lighting, landscape maintenance, having cameras installed in customer service areas, installation of a public address system and making the council chamber more secure.
Policy for golf carts on public streets
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby gave a presentation about neighborhood electric vehicles, which is a vehicle with a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour on a paved level surface and otherwise complies with federal motor vehicle safety standards such as brakes and headlights. Goolsby recommended establishing a policy prohibiting these vehicles from operating on city streets.
Options for spending COVID relief funds
Deputy City Manager Albert Lawrence told the council the city will receive a little more than $9 million in COVID relief funds. These funds can be used for a variety of projects, said Lawrence, who proposed using them to make improvements to the city’s infrastructure. The proposed projects include the Jefferson Street lift station expansion, the purchase of three high service pump generators, the lower Mustang Creek lift station expansion, and the South Prong dam repairs.
Since this was a work session for the council, no action was taken.