Coppell Chronicle Vol. 3, No. 7
Bonds Would Refurbish Turf, Track, Courts • Which Candidates Will Vote for Bonds? • Let’s Analyze These Hopefuls’ Finances • Aspiring Council Members Make Their Case
There’s been a lot of talk lately — in this newsletter specifically and in Coppell generally — about vibrancy in Old Town. My wife and I visited the Farmers Market yesterday morning and recognized a few familiar faces among the vendors and our fellow shoppers. We then strolled past a full patio at George Coffee + Provisions before running into a few folks we know at Local Diner. Meanwhile, I didn’t witness this firsthand, but I heard that Tattered Style hosted a pop-up shop featuring baked goods from Ginger Blazek, the former owner of Zenzero Kitchen, and her inventory sold out in a matter of minutes.
All in all, Old Town seemed pretty vibrant on this particular Saturday morning.
That’s something to keep in mind on Tuesday evening, when the City Council will take up Chris Collins’ revised proposal to redevelop the southwest corner of Bethel Road and Main Street.
Bonds Would Refurbish Turf, Track, Courts
If Coppell ISD voters approve the two smallest propositions in the district’s $321.5 million bond package, then a few athletics facilities will be upgraded, including one that the public can use.
Proposition C ($2.9 million) would go toward replacing the turf, track surface, and seat backs at Buddy Echols Field.
Proposition D ($9.5 million) would pay for new locker rooms, restrooms, courts, and lights at the Coppell High School Tennis Center, plus new turf in the Coppell High School fieldhouse.
At first glance, I thought it would have made more sense to group the fieldhouse’s turf with the Buddy Echols Field upgrades rather than with the renovation of the tennis center. Angela Brown, CISD’s Chief Communications Officer, explained to me that all of these projects would have been lumped in one proposition devoted to athletics, were it not for the state law requiring a separate proposition for any work involving a stadium with seating for more than 1,000 spectators.
(See “Legislature Made Bond Elections Harder” in Vol. 3, No. 1.)
On Feb. 13, when the Board of Trustees decided to put the bond package on the ballot, Chief Operations Officer Dennis Womack said artificial turf has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, and Buddy Echols Field’s turf is 10 years old.
“At some point, in the next five years, we know we’ll reach that end of life,” Womack said. “We’re starting to see some evidence of that field starting to deteriorate.”
Womack said the oldest part of the fieldhouse’s turf was installed at the turn of the century, but newer portions were put in when the facility was expanded a few years ago. Assuming voters approve Proposition D, all of the indoor turf would be replaced because the fieldhouse also needs some foundation work.
Proposition C includes new surface for the track at Buddy Echols Field, which reminds me of arguments that bubble up on social media periodically regarding the public’s lack of access to that track and the ones at Coppell ISD’s middle schools. Those arguments usually go something like this: “My taxes paid for those tracks. I should be able to use them.”
I wonder how far those people take their “I paid for that” point of view. If you’re hungry for a late-night snack, should you be able to fix yourself something to eat in an elementary school’s cafeteria? If you’re not feeling well, should a middle school nurse take your temperature? The property taxes you pay to the city help buy police cars and fire trucks; should you be allowed to take one of those vehicles out for a test drive?
Speaking of things your city taxes buy, Coppell’s trails system features more than 23 miles of multi-use hike and bike trails, a 1.1-mile decomposed granite soft running trail, and 5 miles of preserved nature trails, all of which are publicly accessible. Unless you’re preparing for some sort of track meet catering to adult amateur athletes, don’t those trails suit your needs?
[Dan takes a deep breath and steps down off his soapbox.]
Getting back to the matters at hand, Athletic Director Kit Pehl told the trustees last summer that the tennis center has enough lockers to accommodate 50 athletes (25 of each gender), but the program has more than 130 players. The project that is part of Proposition D would build new locker rooms with enough space for 150 athletes.
(See “CISD and YMCA May Pool Their Resources” in Vol. 2, No. 19.)
Pehl also mentioned during his briefing that the tennis center is used by players of all ages; several tennis pros offer lessons there to young children as well as adults. “There’s not a whole lot of other examples where an athletics facility serves as a community center as well,” he said.
So the community can’t use the school district’s tracks, but the community can use the school district’s tennis center? I asked for clarification on that discrepancy, and Womack told me via email that patrons of the tennis center are charged to access it. Those fees help pay for a supervisor to be at the tennis center outside of school hours.
“There has not been the same level of requests to pay a fee to use the tracks at the various schools,” Womack said. “If there were a level of interest from the community to pay a per-use fee to offset the cost of having an evening site supervisor to keep a track open for community use, then CISD could consider that option.”
Which Candidates Will Vote for Bonds?
There are five candidates vying for seats on the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, and four of them explicitly said they support the district’s bond propositions.