Thank you for continuing to read our Addison Mayor’s Newsletter. Hopefully you are also continuing to read our staff prepared newsletter that comes out on Friday afternoons.
I believe that if we are truly committed to transparency there is great value in multiple perspectives. As you may know, the council approved in a 6-0 vote in June the use of the email subscription list of the mayor’s newsletter for any of us on council.
I have continued to write the same sort of newsletter here that I have written for the last 5 years in an effort to stay personally connected with you and fulfill my role as a council member “to communicate with, and seek input from stakeholders”, as well as “promote transparency in communicating with residents, businesses and regional partners.”
I believe last week’s two newsletters are excellent examples of the value of multiple perspectives. There were items covered in the staff newsletter that were covered differently in the mayor’s newsletter, as well as items that were simply not covered at all in the staff newsletter that I frankly put a very high priority on and thus highlighted in the mayor’s newsletter.
Again, that is the value of different perspectives: you have more information and hopefully you are more fully informed.
You hear the word “Transparency“ used quite often these days. Thankfully, with respect to Addison we use that word in a very positive way.
Webster tells us, “transparency: able to be seen through, easy to notice or understand, honest and open; not secretive.”
Wikipedia tells us: “transparency: openness, communication and accountability. Transparency is operating in a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. The right and the means to examine the process of decision making is known as transparency. In politics, transparency is used as a means of holding public officials accountable and fighting corruption.”
All of those definitions shape the reasons I write this newsletter for you each week and I hope are some of the reasons you continue to read it. I also expect that these definitions helped shape the council’s policy on Transparency, that “More is Better”.
Our next Regular council meeting is not until Tuesday, August 9, at 7:30 pm. Our Charter and council procedures suggest that we have only one Regular meeting in July so that council members can schedule vacation time that does not interfere with council work, and so that our City Manager and staff can complete their proposed budget by the July 31 deadline.
I will provide more detail about our expected agenda for that August 9 meeting as we get a bit closer to the date. However, I do expect it to be a packed agenda with carry-over items that were not completed at our July 12 meeting and, of course, new items that come up.
This week our City Manager met with small groups of council members informally to begin to preview some of his ideas about his budget recommendations for 2016-17.
At the very end of last week’s council meeting we briefly discussed our Addison Housing policy. You may wonder, Why have a housing policy? or for that matter, What role does any policy serve?
Both are very good questions since setting policy is one of the very basic and likely most important roles of council.
Two basic purposes are served by setting policy. Guidance for our community about policy issues so that they can know the direction council and thus staff are headed on certain issues, and secondly, policy is set by council so that staff can most effectively fulfill their role of administering Town operations.
As that analysis pertains to our Addison housing policy, in March of 2015 after extensive research, including input from our community and multiple meetings and discussions, the council passed a resolution expressing our housing policy:
Resolution No. R15-006
“Whereas, the City Council has researched the current housing stock and discussed and
Whereas, the City Council desires to make a policy statement to guide City Staff and potential developers as new housing developments are proposed and brought forward for City council Consideration,
Now therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of the Town of Addison, Texas;
Section 1. Addison Housing Policy. When new housing is proposed in Addison, the Addison City Council encourages it to be developed according to the following principles:
- New housing should increase the proportion of fee-simple ownership in Addison’s housing mix. Apartment–only rezoning is unlikely to be approved, as currently the ratio of rental to ownership properties is higher than desired.
- A proposal should offer a ‘best fit’ mix of uses and housing choices within the context of the surrounding Addison community. The Town may use a study area committee (with staff, elected and appointed members such as area representatives and business representatives) to evaluate a proposal’s fit in Addison.
- New housing should create or enhance neighborhoods of urban character rather than locate on a stand-alone, nonintegrated property and should continue the high quality design and walkability that make Addison’s existing neighborhoods distinctive,
- Proposals for independent and/or assisted living may be considered by the Town of Addison. Since there are no assisted living housing units in Addison today, the Town will conduct research to understand how this housing could or should be included in Addison’s future.
This resolution was passed and approved by the City Council on the 24th of March 2015.”
This resolution expresses the Town of Addison’s housing policy. In conjunction with our Comprehensive Land Use Plan that was updated and adopted in 2014, these documents form the very important guidance for the development community and our staff in administering our zoning regulations: simply, what can be built and where.
It is very important that policy guidance have durability and consistency so as not to send confusing signals to the development community or staff. For instance, our previous Comprehensive Land Use plan had been in place since the mid-90s.
As the council heard during our recent Visioning and Strategic Planning session from our facilitator Ron Hollifield, “Zigging and zagging on public policy is not good governance.”
As mentioned above this is the traditional time of the year for council members to take vacation so that they do not miss Regular council meetings. I have asked my council colleagues to let me know about any of their activities that are Addison related so that I can be sure to include them here each week.
City Manager Wes Pierson and our entire City Management and Financial services team met this week with small groups of council members in pre-budget sessions to cover a broad brush look at a likely budget proposal that will be submitted to council formally at the end of July. All council members attended their respective meeting.
Council members Ivan Hughes, Bruce Arfsten, Jim Duffy, Al Angell and I participated in the Economic Development “Meet and Greet” at the Minol Building at 15280 Addison Road on Wednesday morning.
On Thursday council members Duffy, Hughes, Angell and Arfsten joined me at our Quarterly Meritorious Service Luncheon for our employees.
Council member Hughes attended and participated in the Third Thursday of the Month mayor coffee that has been renamed, “After Hours with the Mayor” on Thursday evening from 6:00 pm-7:15 pm at Sidewalk Café in Addison Circle.
On Saturday afternoon, July 16, I was fortunate enough to represent Addison and welcome over 250 folks to our Addison Conference Centre for another one of Brad Sumrok’s seminars on successful investing.
Brad has been a very good customer of our Conference Centre and he invited me to come speak to his group. Attendees come from all over the country and utilize not only our Conference Centre, they also eat in our restaurants and stay in our hotels. Brad’s groups are with us 3-4 times a year!
On Monday afternoon Economic Development Director Orlando Campos, Manager Drew Dietrich and I visited the brand new Thomas Printworks that recently completed a total remodel of the former Office Depot located on Quorum Drive immediately north of the TGI Friday’s.
Production Manager Logan Doty of Thomas Printworks gave us a tour of their beautiful new facility and shared with us that Thomas is still a family owned private business with 32 locations nationwide with their HQ in Richardson, and is led by a third generation family member, Bryan Thomas.
Their new facility at 15125 Quorum is their major production facility for this market and employs about 50 folks with all of the latest technology. Their print capabilities seem to be only limited by the imagination; it seems to me they can print most anything on anything.
We are very proud that they chose Addison as the place to grow their business. Their former Addison location grew from a very small building near the corner of Belt Line and Addison Road with 5 sales people into this new 35,000 foot, high-tech production facility with 50 folks!
As we noted on the way out, this is a much more neighbor-friendly use than a gun range that our previous council declined to approve.
On Tuesday morning I joined Orlando and Drew again, this time for a visit with Grant Joung, the General Manager of the US Southwest at their ThoughtWorks location at 15540 Spectrum Drive in Addison Circle.
Grant shared with us that they have about 35 folks working with them here in Addison and that their company is based in Chicago with offices all over the world. “We are passionate technologists, we provide software delivery, pioneering tools and consulting for organizations with ambitious missions.”
One of their corporate mantras is, “Ambitious missions need disruptive thinking.” It was great to connect with Grant and his organization and share with him some of the ways they can become more fully connected with Addison.
As mentioned above, early Wednesday morning Council colleagues Hughes, Arfsten, Duffy and Angell joined me for our monthly Economic Development “Meet and Greet” at the Minol Building at 15280 Addison Road.
We greeted some of the 300 folks that call the Minol Building their Addison work home with big smiles, bananas, granola bars, restaurant guides and big “thank you’s” for being with us here in Addison.
Facilities Manager Robert Carter made us feel very welcome and helped spread the very positive word that our team was in the building with good Addison cheer to share. This important Meet and Greet program reinforces our overall organizational focus on keeping our 10 million square feet of office space full!
Last Saturday morning, July 16 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, close to 40 folks participated in the presentation and input opportunity at our Athletic Club to help us finalize plans for our Addison Athletic Club Master Plan.
Our staff will be processing all of the input gathered for analysis and a presentation to council soon.
While some folks were expecting to hear jazz at Beckert Park, most seemed very pleased to have a bit of Christmas in July with the showing of “Elf” that began just as it turned dark in at about 8:40. There were rumors that even Santa was in the park dressed in his vacation tropical shirt.
Just before the movie began, I had another chance to thank our Addison police officers for all they do to keep us safe, in particular to Detective Brandon Marshal and Sergeant Mike Brazelton who took care of security for us on this very mild, beautiful Addison evening.
While we had a nice crowd for the movie, there was a huge crowd over at Addison Circle Park and earlier in the day at Beckert Park doing the Pokémon Go search. It was good to see so many folks out and about enjoying Addison. In fact these Pokémon Trainers have been all over Town all week; some have said they look more like Pokémon Zombies!
It has been great to see and hear so many folks finding ways to be supportive and encouraging of our Police Officers; there have been all sorts of gestures of kindness and support.
A big Shout out to our Water Tower Theater for their special invitation to all of our police officers with a free admission to the upcoming very funny play “One Man, Two Guvnors” for the Thursday August 4, 8:00 pm dress rehearsal.
You could tell from the vibe in the air! Spirits and enthusiasm were very high as council members Hughes, Duffy, Angell and Arfsten joined me for our Quarterly Meritorious Service Luncheon for our Addison employees on Thursday.
City Manager Wes Pierson began our meeting with a heartfelt thank you to our employees for all they do to help us have a very special Town. Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney led the rest of the meeting with a welcome to all of our new employees and recognition of 1 year, 5 year, 15 year and 20 year employees.
Rene Rodriquez received a standing ovation when he won our Employee of the Quarter award. Rene works in our Parks department and was fast acting and quick on his feet as he helped capture a fleeing felon. His actions reduced the danger to our officers and our community.
Check out this link to the staff newsletter for more exciting detail. I have been going to these Quarterly Meritorious Service luncheons for over 10 years and I believe the morale and enthusiasm of our folks is the best I have ever seen or heard.
On Thursday evening we had a very large crowd for our Third Thursday of the month, “After Hours with the Mayor” event at the Sidewalk Café in Addison Circle.
I covered news from our most recent council meeting as well as the good news that our ad valorem values, property values that we will be basing our 2016-17 budget on, have gone up almost 5% to over $4.2 billion!
Most of the discussion focused on the recent revelations about the cost of the Midway Road project. As you may recall, the estimate in 2012 for the project was $16 million. We learned last week that the cost is now estimated to be closer to $38 million.
The discussion and questions mostly centered around, “How did this happen?”, “Who is responsible?”, “How will we make sure this does not happen again?”–all very good questions that I am sure we will address over the next several weeks.
We also spent time discussing “Transparency”, the staff and mayor’s newsletters, as well as likely upcoming council agenda items.
Please plan to join us for our First Wednesday of the month mayor coffee on Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 am at Dunn Bros where we will discuss anything you wish.
Please add our next annual Town Hall Meeting to your calendar now; we will meet at 7:00 pm on October 24 with presentations about our Vision, Strategic Plan and Budget for 2016-17.
We will likely begin the evening with some background music. One of my favorites that we have played over the last several years is Phillip Phillips‘ “Home” with lyrics that always just seem so appropriate and timely.
Please be careful with the heat this week. I know we are Texans and might be accustomed to it, but please be careful. Our Athletic Club pools continue to be a fun place to come cool off.
Thank you for the honor of being your mayor,