Coppell Chronicle Vol. 1, No. 47
Coppell Prepared for Wintry Weather • Marketing Deal Inked with Chamber • Gym at The CORE to Get New Floor • City Has Options for Federal Funds
If you absorb nothing else from this week’s edition, absorb this plea that City Manager Mike Land made during Tuesday’s City Council meeting:
“Please avoid South Belt Line starting next week — at all costs,” he said. “Everyone hear me: Avoid South Belt Line.”
Coppell Prepared for Wintry Weather
I had the pleasure of attending the State of the City luncheon on Thursday, when Mayor Wes Mays smartly introduced a video featuring several city employees rather than do all of the talking himself. One of those employees was Fire Chief Kevin Richardson, who is sporting a championship-level mustache these days.
I was not the only luncheon attendee who had trouble focusing on the video’s content when Richardson was on the screen. A member of the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, whom I shall not name, admitted to being “mesmerized” by the mustache.
I was debating whether to even mention Richardson’s facial hair in this newsletter, but that debate was rendered moot once I watched the recording of Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Richardson briefed the council on the city’s winter-weather preparations, and the first thing he said after “Good evening” was “Why are you laughing?”
Mays replied, “Well, the city manager was saying I needed to comment on your mustache, and I was sitting here saying, ‘No.’ But it looks good.”
Richardson’s response: “Well, I’m not a good loser. I lost a mustache competition, so I’m just …” He then threw his hands up in exasperation, with no further explanation of how the loser of a mustache competition ends up with such wondrous whiskers. I sent Richardson an email on Saturday in an attempt to get the rest of the story (subject line: “I mustache you a question”), but he has not yet replied.
While I can’t fully explain the fire chief’s facial hair, I can tell you about his briefing during Tuesday’s council meeting. He initially recapped the Fire Department’s extensive activities during last February’s snowmageddon — which included rescuing a horse that got stuck in a sheet of ice. Coppell’s Emergency Operations Center was up and running around the clock for a week, and the Fire Department answered more than 700 calls in that seven-day period. To put that number in perspective, the department typically fields between 25 and 30 emergency calls in a day.
Richardson then listed several ways Coppell is better prepared for the next such winter storm:
Three of Coppell’s four fire stations lost power last February, but Richardson has verified with Oncor that those facilities are on “priority grids,” and he’s been told such outages shouldn’t happen again.
Just in case Oncor can’t keep that promise, the city’s 20 or so generators have all been tested — and their fuel systems have been fully drained, cleaned, and serviced — to ensure that all city facilities will be able to maintain electricity during an outage.
The city has increased its capacity for storing and transporting the fuel that powers those generators.
Without going into details, Richardson said the city’s water pumping stations have been improved.
The city secured an ample amount of ice melt and other winter-weather supplies, well before we all started hearing about problems with the supply chain. “The supplies and equipment that we need, we have on hand right now,” Richardson said.
The city has secured military-grade “meals ready to eat” and plenty of bottled water, just in case our first responders who don’t live in or near Coppell can’t get to grocery stores or restaurants during a crisis.
The city also has plenty of backup fuel for its fleet of emergency vehicles, which includes a snow plow.
Learning all of that during this weekend of sub-freezing temperatures made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, especially considering what Richardson said he heard during a recent National Weather Service conference call.
“They said this is an El Nina year, which means temperatures are supposed to be higher than normal,” he said. “But last year was an El Nina year as well, so I think all we can do is plan for the [worst], and when it does happen, we’re able to put our plans into action and take care of business.”
Marketing Deal Inked with Chamber
In Coppell Chronicle No. 45, I reported that Coppell Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ellie Braxton-Leveen asked the City Council to consider spending revenue from Coppell’s hotel occupancy tax on a marketing campaign.
On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved a $165,000 consulting services agreement with the chamber. The majority of that money — $150,000 — will go to an as-yet-undisclosed marketing firm. The chamber will keep the remaining $15,000 as a fee for facilitating the “Visit Coppell” campaign.
The agreement calls for “promotion and marketing of City-owned and sponsored facilities including but not limited to the Coppell Arts Center, Coppell Old Town, DFW International Airport, Coppell Historic District, Coppell Library, Coppell hotels, restaurants, retailers, all the city parks and recreational facilities.”
As you may recall from the article I published two weeks ago, the city has about $280,000 worth of revenue that really can’t be spent on anything else, per the state law that made hotel occupancy taxes possible.
Full disclosure: I am a member of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce. If you are too, perhaps I’ll see you at the Members’ Choice Awards & Community Gala on Jan. 29.
Gym at The CORE to Get New Floor
My family and I are big fans of the outdoor pool and water slides at The CORE, but I have not set foot inside Coppell’s municipal recreation center since … well, you know. Consequently, I had no idea that The CORE’s gym floor had sustained serious water damage until I watched Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
A memo to the council said the damage happened on Sept. 29 due to a broken fire sprinkler. “The water seeped between the flooring and the concrete, which caused separation and large bubbles in the area of play,” the memo said. “Seams separated, and this allowed the sections material to pull away from each other, causing gaps/trip hazards.”
The city’s insurance provider determined that the floor was damaged beyond repair, so the council was asked to approve a replacement contract with Gomez Floor Covering at a cost of $99,385.15. (We can’t forget those all-important 15 cents.)
The insurance provider, TML, will cover nearly all of that amount. The city is responsible only for a $2,500 deductible.
Gomez Floor Covering is supposed to begin replacing the floor this month, and the work should take about two weeks, with minimal disruptions to the rest of the facility. The new floor will have a 15-year guarantee.
City Has Options for Federal Funds
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the City of Coppell is set to receive $10.2 million from the federal government. The city got half of that amount last August, and it expects to receive the remaining $5.1 million this August.
The money comes with some restrictions, and the City Council has been discussing which projects are eligible for funding since September. Deputy City Manager Traci Leach recently asked the council members to individually prioritize those projects on a 7-4-1 scale: seven points for the highest priorities, four points for the middle, and one point for the lowest. On Tuesday, she presented the collective results of that exercise:
The projects listed in blue are ones that are already funded in the city’s budget, but the council could free up that money if they chose to spend American Rescue Plan dollars on them. As for the projects in black, “We’ve been thinking about, ‘Man, we would love to move forward with some of these projects,’” Leach said. “We just did not have a funding source for these until we had this opportunity.”
Council Member Don Carroll suggested moving the Moore Road Park boardwalk higher on the list while lowering the DeForest Lift Station. The boardwalk is part of the Coppell Recreation Development Corporation’s budget, and his suggested move would extend the life of its fund balance. But Mayor Wes Mays pointed out that both of those projects could be covered by American Rescue Plan funds, once the city receives its second payment in August.
Council Member Mark Hill advocated making the reconfiguration of the court clerks’ work area a higher priority while that project is still relevant — you know, during this pandemic. Kevin Nevels agreed with that.
The council didn’t have much feedback otherwise, but they’ll have more opportunities to weigh in. Leach said December 2024 is the deadline to allocate the American Rescue Plan funds, and December 2026 is the deadline to spend them.
“I don’t want you to feel pressure,” City Manager Mike Land said. “I just want you to be able to provide us the direction. You will still have time to modify as you go along.”
• The family of longtime community volunteer Earl “Pops” Rogers has posted an obituary and scheduled a memorial service for 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Coppell Senior and Community Center.
• Culture Map recently provided a preview of what we can expect to eat at Hemingway Brunch, which will open in the former of Sunny Street Cafe as soon as the owners can hire enough staff.
• In Coppell Chronicle No. 31, I reported that the former Ashford Drive residents who were arrested on drug and weapons charges last summer would go on trial starting Jan. 24. It’s a good thing I called ahead while making plans to be at the courthouse that day. That’s how I found out the trial has been delayed until April 25.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical: Coppell High School’s Cowboy Theatre Company will transport you to Bikini Bottom if you buy a ticket and declare, “I’m ready!” Performances are scheduled for Jan. 29, Jan. 30, Feb. 4, Feb. 5, and Feb. 6.
Red Cross Blood Drive: The American Red Cross says it is facing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Click the link if you’re willing to donate a pint between noon and 6 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Rejoice Lutheran Church.
Coppell Lions Club Pancake Breakfast: You can also donate blood at this annual fundraiser between 7 and 11 a.m. on Feb. 12 at First United Methodist Church, where gluten-free pancakes will be available upon request. The entry fee is $5 per person, but the maximum charge for an entire family is $20.
DART Silver Line Community Meeting: If you’d like to ask questions about the regional rail line that will go through Coppell and stop in Cypress Waters, plan to attend a biannual community meeting that’s scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 23. Or just rest assured that I’ll be there.