Forney EDC has more detention work to do

During its regular Sep. 13, 2018 meeting, the Forney Economic Development Corp. met and in summary:

  • There was no public input
  • Financial report: 92% through year, expenses holding well. Mr. McGregor said will pay invoice for downtown monument signs, which is already in budget, and it came in under budget. Mr. Ketteman said the budget update in the packet had the wrong value for prior year column, corrected charts have been supplied.
  • Executive Director's report: downtown parking: had recent meeting with businesses including city hall - many seniors who meet here drive their own cars; including city, seniors and Eric Davis Engineering at least 100 vehicles. Frequently 170 cars in 220 spaces. Have considered a shuttle, sub-courthouse, buying property on Main St. that has been for sale in past, using area around caboose. The rail-road parking lot will be re-striped with narrower slots to gain about 2 spaces. Don't have staff to enforce time-limited parking.
        New City Manager Carson meets with staff once per week. Projects - W. Broad sewer moving ahead, have amenable property owners; Gateway S. sewer: have 3 amenable property owners that will provide a path; Booker T building: have met with interested folks; Downtown GIS: IT dept is working on interactive map; Racetrac could start construction this month, will be some road improvements which will cause some construction delays; Mr. McGregor said P&Z approved plans Victorian Village.
  • Approved directing staff to move forward with an RPF for the Detention Pond (next to Lowes) - new spillway, dissapators, repair eroded channel, 14 yards concrete, crushed stone, proposed budget shows contingency $13k, but with concrete costs, total $96k, will be in next years budget. Much of the work was previously done, but lost due to erosion - used to be a spillway, but it's gone now. Project was build about 2004 and hasn't been maintained. Mr. Alexander asked if this was catching water from businesses - yes, but most comes through drainage channel from antique row, originates from other side of highway near Smurfit-Kappa, then discharges into creek S of hwy 80 near Regal. Ms. Lewis asked about line item being only $75k; Mr. Ketteman said with high contingency, he will leave it. Ms. Browning asked about the deed - the pond is owned by City, EDC is the maintainer. Pond behind Walmart is setup similar way, but it has much less flow. City Attorney found it was not conveyed to city, Walmart may be the owner. Mr. Alexander asked how much spent on that - about $1200 / mo for several years, recently $600 / mo. Ms. Browning asked when city would start maintaining it - Mr. Ketteman said that is a future conversation with council. Mr. Tayamen asked if contract stated a time frame - yes: perpetuity.
  • re: 325 S. Bois D'Arc Redevelopment Grant - Mr. Ketteman said Mr. Jeansonne received funds, now it is for sale, Mr. Jeansonne is here - he said he wanted to be in compliance with the grant. The grant was a big help, but due to competition from Walgreens, UPS, USPS, then the downtown shutdown, they decided to lease out entire building or sell. He asked if there was any restriction on selling. Ms. Browning said had a recent discussion about people getting grants, then selling property.
        Mr. Jeansonne said the document sect. 2.9 says if don't use grant in way intended, they could seek a refund, but if they maintain it as office space, would they be ok? Mr. Ketteman said the question stumped him, Mr. Jeansonne is trying to put business in there. Mr. Jeansonne said its retail now, they were supposed to convert to office. Ms. Browning said shouldn't be a problem if not leasing, but if they sell it.
        Mr. Ketteman said there were additional problems when a sinkhole developed, city wouldn't approve, Mr. Jeansonne had to wait. He read the document section about sale of property, but doesn't address if sold for the intended purpose. Mr. Tayamen asked if currently retail or office - it had office space but was unused. Mr. McGregor said the grant was to allow back 2/3 to be office. Mr. Jeansonne said now that their business not there, whole space is opened up. A potential buyer is here, want to setup a law firm there.
        Ms. Sinclair spoke: their plan is to open a law office here, have been looking for commercial space, hard to find. An offer has been submitted, with questions about the grant - they would not change any of the work that was done for the grant. The zoning would allow retail in front, but their plan would be all office. Mr. Tayamen asked what work they would have to do - probably nothing, maybe new back door, for ADA compliance. Mr. Tayamen is happy to see them, but he has a hard time with having the grant used this way, Walgreens and UPS were already there - Mr. Jeansonne said Walgreens wasn't doing shipping until last year. Mr. Tayamen said much of the work on the building would have had to be done for him to sell it. Mr. Jeansonne said if they bought it, buyer would likely come to them to get a grant.
        Mr. Burrus talked about bringing more retail traffic, they might not have offered as much grant money for strictly office use. Ms. Browning is also happy they are coming here, but also has a problem with this, doesn't want to set a precedent for folks to get a grant to fix up a building before selling it. There was a discussion about this not being his intent, but the board is still concerned. Mr. Jeansonne said he agrees, if someone put in a restaurant, yes, but it is staying office.
        Mr. Ketteman said the previous application didn't specify that, they recently had an issue with another building when they added language. He stressed it says they May require a full reimbursement in some situations. Ms. Sinclair said nothing they would do would trigger this.
        Mr. Jeansonne said the business will definitely bring people downtown, and the language is a little cloudy. Mr. Tayamen said they need to do the right thing, for the city, which may mean someone has to sacrifice. Ms. Browning asked if the wording was changed after he applied; it was changed after he was approved, but before he was paid. Ms. Browning verified the language has been fixed; Mr. Ketteman said yes, as had a problem with another property.
        Mr. Alexander said must go with the way it was worded when granted. Mr. Ketteman said the concern was when it was for sale, and be used for office space which was in original grant. Ms. Lewis said this is new territory, asked if they needed to discuss this in exec session. Mr. Ketteman said they could.
  • Held a 58-minute executive session re:
  • Mr. Burrus said since the grant was approved with the old language, they will let it stay. Ms. Browning said, for the record, the EDC is not in the flipping business. Mr. Ketteman said the new language will prevent future problems, so they are not setting precedent here.
  • Mr. McGregor said City Manager Carson asked why no other intersections have the historic look on Trinity St, staff will put this on a future agenda. They have found 8 intersections that could be done. Mr. Ketteman said this wasn't in the downtown project, and Bois d'Arc was a state road, now it's a city street, now have more flexibility.
        Mr. McGregor said they received notice that FEDC is up for Downtown Association EDC award, in top 4 of 111 applicants.
  • Adjourned at 2035.
Thursday, 2018, September 13