Coppell Chronicle Vol. 2, No. 7
Cozby Library Joining Parks Department • Skate Park Drops on Priority List • Seniors Eager to Learn About Village • Atmos Provides Some Answers
Brad Hunt and I both attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux on Thursday because great minds think alike … about free food. When it came time to introduce myself to the crowd, I pointed at Coppell ISD’s esteemed superintendent.
“My name is Dan Koller, and I publish a weekly newsletter called the Coppell Chronicle that’s about everything that happens in the City of Coppell and Coppell ISD,” I said. “Whenever Dr. Hunt speaks into a microphone, I’m listening and writing down everything he says.”
Once everybody recovered from my standup comedy routine, we stuffed our faces with cheeseburger sliders and “boudin balls” (highly recommended). I eventually found a quiet moment with Dr. Hunt to ask if he was aware of something that will be mentioned in this week’s Chronicle Crumbs.
But wait — don’t skip ahead! There are things I want to tell you about first.
Cozby Library Joining Parks Department
The Cozby Library and Community Commons will soon become part of the Coppell Parks and Recreation Department, and some city employees aren’t happy about that.
The members of the Parks and Recreation Board were briefed on this change last Monday, near the end of their monthly meeting.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity to kind of collaborate, bringing two departments together that really serve to enhance the quality of life for our citizens and our community,” Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Carpenter told them. “With a lot of collaboration, and a lot of shared resources and things, we can really make each other better.”
As far as I can tell, this was the first time a city official has discussed the impending integration at a public meeting. It’s been on my radar since late February, when an anonymous tipster emailed me to express some frustrations. I received similar messages from two other anonymous email addresses in March. These tipsters believe the change is being made without the City Council’s input. They also said city employees were told to keep quiet about it.
I doubt I’m the only person who received such emails. During the Library Advisory Board’s meeting on March 21, board member Martha Garber told Director of Library Services Dennis Quinn that she’d like to have an explanation of the changes placed on the agenda for the board’s April meeting.
Quinn was not among the department directors who spoke at the city’s Budget Town Hall Meeting on Thursday. Carpenter, Police Chief Danny Barton, Fire Chief Kevin Richardson, and Director of Public Works Kent Collins all took turns summarizing their departments’ priorities for fiscal 2023. I missed the town hall meeting due to a scheduling conflict, but I’ve watched the recording of it. Only one member of the audience provided any feedback, and that feedback was about how the city must not have done enough to promote the town hall meeting because the room was practically empty.
Given that we just wrapped up National Library Week, this is as good a time as any to knock out a few Cozby-related items that have been stacking up on my to-mention list:
Cozby librarian Morgan Green-Griffin won the 2022 Young Adult Reading Incentive Award from the Texas Library Association. She was honored for the Teen LitBox program that matches a pair of library books with themed snacks, products from small businesses or artists, and City of Coppell promotional items.
For the 17th consecutive year, the Cozby Library and Community Commons was among the 10 percent of the state’s public library systems to receive the Achievement of Excellence in Libraries Award from the Texas Municipal Library Directors Association. To be recognized, a library must exhibit excellence in 10 areas, including providing literacy support for all ages, hosting cultural and topical events, and developing training opportunities for staff at all levels.
Speaking of training, the library will be closed all day on Tuesday for a staff development session.
I’m betting the impending organizational change will be discussed on Tuesday.
Skate Park Drops on Priority List
If you would like Coppell to have a dedicated space for popping ollies and grinding rails, speak now or forever hold your peace.
When the Parks and Recreation Board got together on Monday, the main item on their agenda was revising their list of development priorities. Although no official action was taken, there seemed to be a consensus among the board members that a skate park could be dropped from the “high priority” portion of the list.
Several years ago, some Coppell residents made a lot of noise about adding a skate park. But the board and the Parks and Recreation Department staff have not heard a peep from those people since.
On Monday, the board did not hear from any residents about any topic. Despite the nudge I provided in the March 20 edition of this newsletter, nobody signed up to speak during the “Citizens’ Forum” portion of the meeting. Without any feedback from the community, the board members prioritized projects based on their own instincts. Board Chair Ed Guignon summarized their proposed changes thusly:
Splash pad: Move from medium priority to high priority
Cottonwood Creek Trail: Move from high to medium
Biodiversity Education Center parking lot: Move from high to medium
Skate park: Move from high to low
Overhead power utility corridor: Move from medium to low
Villawood Linear Park playground: Move from medium to low
Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Carpenter also recommended adding a veterans’ memorial and additional pickleball courts to the priorities list. Guignon asked her to bring a revised list to the board’s meeting on May 2, when advocates for a skate park or any other projects will have another opportunity to weigh in.
If and when any of these projects get under way, they will not be managed by John Elias. Carpenter informed the board on Monday that April 1 was the longtime park projects manager’s final day as a city employee. She said Elias left Coppell due to “an awesome opportunity in another community.” I asked her what specific job lured him away, but she understandably declined to elaborate out of respect for his privacy.
Seniors Eager to Learn About Village
Although Monday’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board and Thursday’s Budget Town Hall Meeting were ghost towns, more than 60 people flocked to the Coppell Senior and Community Center on Wednesday afternoon to learn more about a “senior village.” Your 47-year-old correspondent was probably the youngest person in the room.
The senior village concept has been an area of focus for the city’s Future Oriented Approach to Residential Development Task Force. As summarized in the Feb. 6 edition, the village wouldn’t be a geographic location within Coppell. Instead, it would be a suite of services offered to older residents by either city employees or volunteers.
Task Force Chair Peggy Quinn explained that her team has been talking to the folks who run senior villages in four other communities. Three of them are in Texas: Austin, The Woodlands, and Fort Bend County. The fourth is Boston’s longstanding village centered in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.
“They are the mecca of villages,” Quinn said of Beacon Hill. “They’ve got it down. After 25 years, you would hope so.”
Residents of the Beacon Hill village get assistance with technical tasks, household maintenance, and transportation. The village also sponsors monthly outings to bars, an idea that prompted a lot of giggles from the seniors at Wednesday’s meeting.
This meeting was informative because everybody in the room learned something. For example, Quinn asked how many people had heard of GoGoGrandparent, a service that makes using Uber and Lyft easier for seniors who may not be comfortable with smartphone apps. Only one person in the room raised their hand (and it wasn’t me). That led an audience member to bring up the Span transit service that operates in Coppell; this was also breaking news to many of the attendees.
Meanwhile, Quinn stressed that the “senior village” concept is dependent on volunteers of all ages, including seniors. “It takes a village to be a village,” she said. “Without membership involvement, the village will not work.” An audience member said this could be an opportunity for the teenage members of the Young Men’s Service League and the National Charity League — both of which have Coppell chapters — to earn service hours. Quinn and her colleagues were not familiar with either organization, but they wrote down their names.
The FOARD Task Force will host another feedback session at 1 p.m. on April 20 at the senior center. Quinn said they will then get to work on formulating a business plan, with a goal of presenting it to the City Council by September.
Atmos Provides Some Answers
There’s a cul-de-sac along Sandy Lake Road called Woodland Cove, and some sort of Atmos facility sits at the end of it. That facility was abuzz with activity for weeks. On certain days, several pickup trucks were parked near the site as were multiple portable toilets.
The week before last, I finally got around to contacting Atmos to ask what this facility is and what’s been going on there. That led to a phone conversation with Jan Rugg, who has been the natural gas supplier’s manager of public affairs in Coppell for 10 years. She laughed when I mentioned the portable toilets.
“People always bring up the portable toilets,” she said. “We have to have some place for our workers to relieve themselves.”
Rugg called the facility along Sandy Lake a measurement station that she said is related to Atmos’ transmission to distribution system. When they haven’t been relieving themselves, those workers have been modernizing it.
“The way I always explain it to people is, I used to have a big desktop computer; now I have a laptop computer,” Rugg said. “As technology improves, we improve our facilities.”
This particular facility is surrounded by a fence, but I was able to take this picture from the public side of that fence without standing on my tippy toes — and I’m not a tall man by any measure.
Here’s where things got interesting: When I asked Rugg how many of these measurement stations Atmos has in Coppell, she told me she couldn’t say. I thought she meant that she didn’t have that information readily available, but when I later asked if Rugg could track down that number, she clarified that she wasn’t allowed to tell me for security reasons.
Rugg did tell me that nobody in Coppell has lost their gas service due to this particular modernization project, which she said was wrapping up by the time my inquiry landed in her inbox. She said one of the final tasks on the punch list was painting.
I guess not everything has been painted yet. When I drove down Sandy Lake on Saturday, one portable toilet was still in plain sight.
• As Mrs. Koller and I bought flowers and mulch recently at the Home Depot along LBJ Freeway, I noticed a sign touting a proposed zoning change for the former Fry’s site next door. A developer aims to turn that retail space into a community of 198 townhomes that would be within the boundaries of Coppell ISD. I’m told this proposal should be on the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission’s May 16 agenda.
• Coppell-based Dave & Buster’s is acquiring its rival Main Event. No tipsters clued me in to this merger, so I had to get all the details on the $835 million deal from The Dallas Morning News.
• There’s a Wilson Elementary School parent whose vehicle sports a “Fuck Biden” sticker on the rear window. This vehicle idles outside the school during drop-off and pick-up times, when other people’s children can’t help but see the profane message. Great work, Dad (or Mom). Way to contribute to the community.
Road Trip: The Coppell Children’s Chorus will explore the excitement of new adventures, hitting different stops along the way, and realizing the joy of coming home at 3 p.m. today at the Coppell Arts Center.
School Board Candidates Forum: The Coppell ISD PTO presidents will host incumbent Anthony Hill and challenger Carol Lacey McGuire at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the Coppell High School auditorium. Early voting is scheduled for April 25-May 3, and Election Day is May 7.
Meet Your Neighbor: Military Service: The latest opportunity for Coppell residents to share their experiences and learn from each other is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Cozby Library and Community Commons.
Lariettes Spring Show: The annual extravaganza, which also features the Silver Stars and the Coppell High School Band, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 22, 1 p.m. on April 23, and 7 p.m. on April 23 in the CHS auditorium.
Free Pet Microchip Event: Coppell Animal Services will offer a limited number of free pet microchips to Coppell residents between 1 and 4 p.m. on April 23.
Preserving Family Memories: Felicia Williamson, Director of Library and Archives at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, will be at the Cozby Library and Community Commons at 2 p.m. on April 24 to lead a workshop related to family heirlooms, photos, and artifacts.
Crafting in Heritage Park: The Coppell Historical Society is launching a monthly program for children ages 6 to 12. The first class, which is scheduled from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on April 30, will be about wet felting and sewing. The cost of admission is $25, which will cover all supplies. Future classes will focus on printmaking, leather crafting, and candle making.
Humvee Challenge: If you and up to five friends think you can pull a 7,000-pound Humvee across the First United Methodist Church parking lot, sign up for Claymore Operations’ second annual Humvee Challenge, which is scheduled for May 7.
Run to Fund: This 5K scheduled for May 7 benefits the Coppell ISD Education Foundation, which fulfills teachers’ grant requests with money that can’t be recaptured by the state.