Council agrees to (mostly) reopening Parks and City Hall

++ Initial story, subject to revisions! ++
During its regular May 19, 2020 virtual meeting, the Forney City Council met to consider grants, new construction, digital library program, reopening parks, city hall and concerts/movies, and had a debate about open meetings law.(watch official video)

  • Mayor Penn presented a Proclamation for National Public Works Week May 17-23, 2020.
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • Mayor Penn said item 5 has been pulled.
    • Mr. David Watts (public input) said the items 3, 6, 7 should also be pulled and addressed separately.  Families in Forney have lost income, have been told they work in non-essential jobs, there is economic uncertainty.  These amount to 300k of expenses that seem to be non-essential.  Especially item 7, street lights on Trailhouse Lane where there are no houses, or businesses, it does not seem responsible.  Council should pull all those items, it's not responsible spending.
    • Mr. Myers asked about #5 - Mayor Penn said it was withdrawn.
    • a Resolution authorizing the application for grant funding for a COVID-19 Hazard Pay and Personal Protective Equipment Project as part of the Texas Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office, Criminal Justice Division: Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program FY 2020 funding opportunity.
    • a Resolution authorizing the application for grant funding for a TASER & Radio Acquisition Project as part of the Texas Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office, Criminal Justice Division: Criminal Justice Program FY 2021 funding opportunity.
    • a Resolution awarding a contract to Midwest Wrecking Co. of Texas, Inc., for demolition services at 702 E. Main Street, known as the Booker T Washington site, and all related issues.
    • a Resolution authorizing the City Manager to submit applications for grant projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • allowing staff to seek bids for the Manhole Rehabilitation/Reconstruction Services and all related issues.
    • a change order for streetlights to be installed on Trailhouse Lane CIP #169.

  • Did not consider: advertising a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the City Storage Buildings project.
  • Discussion on joining the North East Texas Library Consortium for access to the Digital Library.
        Mr. Cardwell said they have been researching ways to provide library services, this is commonly used in N. TX cities.  This is similar to audible and ebooks, works like a regular library with limited numbers of books (licenses) that must be checked out.  The city would have to put registration system on the website. 
        Mayor Penn said this would be exciting to explore.  Mr. Myers said also provides videos, would be good for people and kids at home, would be free for citizens of Forney.  City Manager Mr. Carson said Mr. Myers & Cardwell have spent much time looking at this.  Mr. Cooper asked if would include FISD - no, just Forney citizens.  Mr. Cardwell said most cities have revised their program for residents only..  Mr. Carson said fees are based on population.  Mr. Moon said it's a modest fee, be nice if would include everyone in the zip code.  Mr. Myers said should start small.  Mayor Penn said students have access to school library.
  • Approved a Resolution approving an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement between the City of Forney and Kaufman County pursuant to Section 242.001 of the Texas Local Government Code for the regulation of subdivision plats and related permits in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Forney.
        City Attorney Mr. Thatcher said this was requested by Kaufman County - 2005 legislature passed law requiring an agreement in overlapping ETJ areas, so developers know who to contact.  Current agreement is broad, they're working w/ Kaufman County District Attorneys to provide more detail.  The city will remain the authority for subdivision plats, does allow county to review roads and to take over maintenance.  The city will also be flood-plain control, the county will the authority for onsite waste-water.
  • Board and commission appointments: North Texas Municipal Water District; Planning & Zoning Commission, and all related issues.
        Ms. Brooks said NTMWD stated Mr. John Carr's term expires May 31; Mr. Carr desires to continue.  There is one vacancy on P&Z.
        Approved reappointing Mr. Carr.
        Greg Helm was appointed to the P&Z.
  • action related to the Declaration of State of Disaster and Public Health Emergency, and all related issues.
        Mr. Carson said looking for direction for opening park, playground, splash pad, city hall, summer concerts.
        Parks: Mr. Myers said OK to open park, people are finding ways to play basketball anyway, jumping fences at Johnson.  Mayor Penn said should be known to public that playground equipment isn't going to be sanitized, don't have the staff to do that.  Mr. Myers said same is true for pavilions.  Mr. Carson said will get hand sanitizer stations designed for outdoor use to place at the playgrounds, basketball courts, along with signage.  Mayor Penn said governor's instructions are 4-people groups allowed to play; Mr. Carson suggested opening on May 22, get out message about social distancing, will not be in a position to patrol the park for compliance.  Mr. Myers listed other activities that will be allowed to open on May 22.  Mr. Carson said on May 22 parks will be open.
        Splash-pad: SM said trend is to keep those closed in other cities and HOAs.  DJ said many pools are not open.
        City Hall: Mr. Cooper said yes.  Mr. Moon asked about Layden Sr. center - that's up to the group.  Mr. Carson suggested opening city hall on May 26.
        Summer concerts: TC said no governor guidance on large gatherings, should cancel the June concerts and movies.  Mayor Penn said citizens are hungering for something like that, wonder if could revive it in two weeks; Mr. Carson said depends on the availability of bands.  They canceled 3 in May.  Mayor Penn asked about movies in the park - Mr. Carson said that would be easier, already bought the movies, would need guidance from governor, can put that together quickly.  Mr. Moon asked if the bands could play in the fall - Mr. Carson said he would check, still have JAC working with city to get activity at the amphitheater. 
  • Public Comment
  • David Watts said he had requested to speak on item 7 (emergency order), and 8.  Mayor Penn said he had 3 minutes to speak, Mr. Watts replied he had 3 items on each item.  There was a lengthy back-and-forth.  Mr. Thatcher said the law provides citizens the opportunity to speak for items before action is taken, item 7 had no action to take, so law didn't apply.  Mr. Watts stated that was not accurate - "I'm entitled the right to speak on each agenda item before or during the discussion process, and if the council seeks to forbid that, we'll note that as a matter of record." Mr. Myers pointed out there is no action item 7 or 8.  Mr. Watts said "the law does not permit you to silence me for 3 minutes on agenda item 7." Mayor Penn told him his three minutes were starting, several times.
        Mr. Watts said HB 2840 passed into law, effective Sept. 1, 2019 and requires allowing citizens to speak before and during each agenda item - they denied him that right on item 7.  On the city website, there is a document regarding citizen input that is grossly inconsistent with state law.  He urged the city to bring the document into accord with state law.  He again stated he was denied the right to speak on item 7, in violation of state law.
  • City Manager's report - none.
  • Council Comments - Mr. Myers thanks public works and staff; Mr. Moon thanks staff, looks fwd to parks open; Mr. Cooper thanks staff; Mr. Johnson said spent 99% of career in public works, the proclamation is near and dear to his heart, thanks staff for dealing with this scenario; Mayor Penn also thanked staff and pub works, urged everyone to use caution in the parks, excited about the virtual library.
  • Held a 2-hour-4-minute executive session re:
    • PUC Docket No. 46662; SOAH Docket No. 473-17-4964.WS 'Petition of the Cities of Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson Appealing the Decision by North Texas Municipal Water District Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • PUC Docket No. 47814; SOAH Docket No. 476-18-1344.WS - Petition of High Point Water Supply Corporation, Talty Special Utility District, and Markout Water Supply Corporation Appealing the Decision by the City of Forney Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • Fox Hollow Public Improvement District No. 1.

  • Took no action, adjourned at 2132.
Tuesday, 2020, May 19