Coppell Chronicle Vol. 2, No. 4
Parks Board Prioritizing Projects • City Receives ‘Very Clean Audit’ • Coppell ISD Invites Feedback on Visioning • Who Did Coppell Vote For?
Parks Board Prioritizing Projects
The Coppell Parks and Recreation Board is putting its priorities in order, and that list of priorities includes a splash pad, an adult softball complex, and a skate park.
The list of development priorities was most recently updated in 2019. During their March meeting, the board was given an amended version of that 2019 list, with updated cost estimates. Here’s a copy for your review.
Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Carpenter advised the board to think about the priorities in terms of what the city needs as opposed to what the city can afford.
“Many of the things on this list may never be done,” she said, “so it’s even more critical that when we engage in prioritization discussions that we really are honing in on what are the true high priorities based on need — not worrying so much about the funding, because the funding will come when the funding comes.”
When the funding will come is uncertain due to Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s proposal to change how sales taxes for online transactions are distributed. If Hegar gets his way, Coppell could lose about $27 million per year, or 18 percent of its annual revenue. Consequently, Coppell and three other cities filed a lawsuit against Hegar last July. The court proceedings related to the suit have been delayed until September.
“Until we know the outcome of the lawsuit in September, we really are approaching projects on a case-by-case situation, as funding becomes available,” Carpenter said. “I will tell you, as a city, we’re being very conservative until we know the outcome.”
Just as important as funding is location: “The problem with this list, in general, is ‘we want to have it; we don’t where it can go,’” Carpenter said. “We have that problem in this community, being kind of built out and landlocked as we are.”
For example, the best spot Carpenter’s staff has been able to find for a potential splash pad is the circular patch of grass at Andrew Brown Park East, between the parking lot and the pavilion. By the way, the interactive fountain by the Farmers Market pavilion in Old Town is not a splash pad.
“I would say it’s not made for play, but that’s certainly what it’s being used for,” Carpenter said. “An actual, real splash pad is going to be more of a playground with water.”
The Parks and Recreation Board will sink their teeth into the priorities list during their April 4 meeting. If you want to influence their discussion before then, here’s who you need to know: Mary Arnold, Margaret Bryan, Maureen Corcoran, Ed Guignon, Nick Paschal, Maheshika Ratnayake, and Zainab Tinwala are the board’s regular members. The alternate members are Chaitu Jayanti and Jeffrey Roller, and the youth advisors are Rhythm Khandelwal and Sidarth Shenoy.
If you don’t know any of them, you always have the option of signing up to speak during the “Citizens’ Forum” portion of their April 4 meeting. Doing so has certainly worked for residents who felt strongly about prioritizing certain projects.
Carpenter said the idea of a dog park sat in the “low priority” section of the list for years. Then residents who really wanted a dog park started advocating for one; they spoke at meetings of the Parks and Recreation Board and the City Council, often while wearing matching T-shirts about their desire for a dog park. Lo and behold, the concept became a high priority, and Waggin’ Tails Dog Park became a reality.
“That’s how city government should work,” Carpenter said. “That’s all we can hope for, in terms of the community says, ‘This is important to us, and we want this,’ and then that’s when we can go and make it happen.”
Speaking of making things happen, a member of the Parks and Recreation Board said during the March meeting that it may be time to rethink the idea of naming three parks after one former mayor. As someone who always has to stop and think about which one is Andrew Brown Park Central and which one is Andrew Brown Park East, given that Andrew Brown Park East is centrally located between two other parks, I applaud this idea. I don’t know who this board member is, because I listened to the March meeting without the benefit of video, but she has my respect and admiration.
City Receives ‘Very Clean Audit’
File this under “no news is good news.” Last month, the Coppell City Council received the results of the city’s annual audit. After conducting what he termed a “very, very clean audit,” certified public accountant John DeBurro prepared reports on:
The city’s financial statements for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30
The city’s internal control over financial reporting and compliance
The city’s administration of federal funds
In each case, DeBurro issued an “unmodified opinion” of the work performed by the city’s Finance Department, which is a good thing.
“When I first heard ‘an unmodified report,’ the words in my engineering background set off a red flag,” Mayor Wes Mays said, “but in the audit world, that’s actually the best statement you can make about a report. Is that correct?”
DeBurro’s response: “Yes, that’s the highest level of assurance we can give that the financial statements are fairly presented.”
If I haven’t lulled you to sleep by now, you may be wondering why I included this article in today’s edition. I hadn’t planned on doing so until I read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram report about our neighbors to the west. It says an audit of Grapevine’s finances performed by Weaver — the firm where DeBurro works — found that the parks and recreation director spent up to $186,591 on hotel rooms, plane tickets, football tickets, and more than $23,000 worth of Apple products. Meanwhile, the libraries director reportedly spent up to $69,694 on personal items, including lawn furniture for her house. They have both resigned, and The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that a grand jury has been asked to investigate.
Like I said, when it comes to Coppell’s finances, no news is good news.
Coppell ISD Invites Feedback on Visioning
The Dec. 12 edition of this newsletter included an article that mentioned Coppell ISD’s Visioning Committee, and last week’s edition included an article about students’ mental health. If you have thoughts on either of these topics, put these dates, times, and locations on your calendar
April 4, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Vonita White Administration Building
April 7, from 8 a.m. to noon, at Coppell Middle School West
April 11, from 3 to 7 p.m., at Coppell Middle School West
April 14, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Vonita White Administration Building
That’s when members of the community are invited to provide input on possible priority areas and statements developed by the district’s Visioning Committee, which is helping outline the future of CISD. Click here for more details.
To be clear, you’re not expected to be at the Vonita White building or CMS West for four hours on those dates; you can pop in at any time during those four-hour windows, read the statements, take as long as you need to provide feedback via sticky notes, then carry on with the rest of your day.
Who Did Coppell Vote For?
Because I’m a nerd who enjoys following politics and creating spreadsheets, I couldn’t resist tabulating how Coppell residents voted in this month’s primary elections. For the most part, we Coppellicans followed the overall trends for particular campaigns. I may be mixing apples and oranges here, but I cooked up a single pie chart that represents all of our votes for governor:
As you can see, Beto O’Rourke (33.2 percent) was the second-most popular choice among Coppell voters, as he was in the statewide results. If he hopes to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott (who received 41.1 percent of Coppell votes), he’s either going to have convince Republican supporters of Don Huffines and Allen West to choose him over Abbott (unlikely) or inspire higher turnout among Democrats (more likely, but also unlikely).
My spreadsheet of Coppell votes includes results for just these races: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Congressional District 24, Senate District 12, County Judge, and County Commissioner District 2. Democrats will decide on their nominee in four of those campaigns — Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Congressional District 24, and County Commissioner District 2 — as well as the Land Commissioner and Comptroller races in the upcoming runoff election. Early voting will happen May 16-20, and Election Day is May 24.
Republican voters still need to settle their nominees for Attorney General, Land Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner. The Republican race for Comptroller is over, though, as incumbent Glenn Hegar cruised past his primary challenger, Mark Goloby, with 81.6 percent of the statewide votes. Surprisingly, Hegar did even better in Coppell — 82.6 percent — despite his intention to take away a huge chunk of our sales tax revenue.
• If you’re wondering how your kids are going to while away the hours on those long summer days, check out this list of camps offered by the CISD Athletics Department.
• Attention, P1s (devoted listeners of The Ticket): Opportunities to attend a remote broadcast around here are few and far between. “The Hardline,” which features Coppell resident Bob Sturm, will be at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux tomorrow afternoon for the restaurant’s grand re-opening.
• Have you ever noticed that house of worship just north of the city limits called The Door Church? I think they’re missing an opportunity for humor by not having a sign above their entrance that says “The Door Church Door.”
Shade of Green: Tomorrow is the entry deadline for the Coppell Creatives’ next exhibit at the Coppell Arts Center. Works in any media are eligible as long as they are predominantly green or “developed around the concept green.”
My Frida: Saturday is the entry deadline for artists ages 5-14 to submit Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits for this exhibit at the Coppell Arts Center. If your young artists needs some help with his or her piece, a workshop is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Ripcord: Theatre Coppell will present David Lindsay-Abaire’s play at the Coppell Arts Center over the next three weekends. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Community Movie Night: Coppell ISD will host a screening of Monsters Inc. at Buddy Echols Field on Saturday. The gates will open at 6:30 p.m., and the movie will begin one hour later.
Coppell Connected — Neighbors Helping Neighbors: On April 23, Coppell residents are encouraged to provide assistance to their neighbors with home maintenance and repairs. April 1 is the deadline to sign up as a volunteer.
Run to Fund: The Coppell ISD Education Foundation’s 5K race isn’t until May 7, but you can register now. The foundation fulfills teachers’ grant requests with money that can’t be recaptured by the state.