July 17, 2020
Here is the latest edition of Week In Review - a series of weekly messages from the Mayor and City Council to help Richardson residents and businesses keep up to date on events at City Hall. If you would like to sign up to receive this in a weekly e-mail click here.
Throughout the year the City Council or City Plan Commission will hold meetings on topics of significant interest to local neighborhoods or the community in general. Links to view all City Council or City Plan Commission meeting documents that may have topics of interest to you can be found here:
City Council | City Plan Commission
Cottonwood Art Fest, Huffhines Art Trails and Pawtoberfest Canceled
The City announced this week that the fall celebration of its semiannual Cottonwood Art Festival, scheduled for Oct. 3-4, and Huffhines Art Trails and Pawtoberfest, scheduled for Oct. 17-18, have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Planning for the events take several months and typically would already be underway to schedule food and art vendors, some of whom travel from across the country and even from around the world. With the unknowns regarding whether large gatherings will be allowed this fall, organizers had to make a call this week to cancel the events.
Updates on these and other events and facility services impacted by coronavirus can be found at the website link below.
City Council Updated on Hotel/Motel Fund
City staff updated the City Council Monday on the state of the Hotel/Motel Fund. As expected, local hotel occupancy has been low in recent months and projected hotel/motel tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2019-20 is expected to be $1.8 million (44 percent) less than originally budgeted. Eisemann Center revenue is down by $1.1 million since it has been unable to host events since early March.
Though the reduction has been offset significantly by reserved funds and reduced operating expenses, there are many unknowns going forward, including future hotel occupancy, and the willingness/ability of audiences to attend events and performing arts organizations to perform at the Eisemann Center. To work with these unknowns, “multi-year recovery strategies” are planned, including:
- Carefully monitor hotel/motel occupancy tax trends
- Suspend “Eisemann Center Presents” programming for 2020-21; holding only a few events that already have a strong following
- Conservatively budget hotel/motel occupancy tax and Eisemann Center revenue
Staff will have final projections ready for the City Council’s budget workshop July 27-28.
Ribbon Cutting Marks Opening of Fire Station 3
After a socially distanced tour, City Council members briefly removed facial coverings to pose for a ceremonial ribbon cutting Wednesday celebrating the opening of Fire Station 3. Also on hand to cut the ribbon were City Manager Dan Johnson and Richardson Fire Chief Curtis Poovey.
The station, located at the northwest corner of Custer Parkway and Lookout Drive, replaces the former Fire Station 3 (located across the street from the new station). It was a high priority in the 2015 Strategic Fire Station Plan, due in part to increasing development and population in the service area and was included in the 2015 Bond Program. The 13,200-square-foot building is more than double the former station’s size, allowing for more trucks, equipment and personnel, and features a large piece of outdoor public art that mimics a vintage fire hose nozzle.
Public tours of the facility were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns and a virtual walk through video has been created instead (video link below).
Mayor’s Summer Internship Program in Progress
Mayor Paul Voelker recently got to know four interns from the 2020 Richardson Mayor’s Summer Internship Program (RMSIP) by hosting a socially distanced lunch at City Hall. The interns are working this summer with staff from IT, Police, Fire and the Eisemann Center.
Now in its third year, RMSIP enables incoming high school seniors to receive eight weeks of paid summer employment at a local business, nonprofit or government agency. Students have been working both in-person and virtually this summer. The 2020 program wraps up Aug. 7. Program openings for incoming seniors next year will be held in the spring of 2021.
Mayors Host Region-wide Blood Drive
The North Texas Mayors Economic Recovery Council hosted a region-wide blood drive with Carter BloodCare Tuesday to help meet the current demand for donations and boost awareness. Donations are needed as the blood supply in North Texas has experienced a critical drop due to more donors staying home amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The blood drive took place at city halls in Richardson, Irving and Fort Worth, with the mayors of several cities, including Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker, participating as donors. The Richardson drive was a success, with all time slots full before it began.
Visit www.carterbloodcare.org for more information on future blood drives and to see if you’re eligible to donate blood. People can also call 800-366-2834 to set up an appointment. Donors receive free blood pressure and cholesterol checks as well as a COVID-19 antibody screening.
Rails Arrive for DART Silver Line
Massive portions of steel rails were delivered last week along the route of the DART Silver Line, the east-west rail line that will stretch from Plano to DFW Airport with two stops in Richardson. Manufactured in Columbia City, Ind., the rails traveled 1,100 miles to North Texas by special train, with 50 rail segments that will cover a 15-mile stretch.
The rails arrived at a spot between Marsh Lane and Midway Road in Addison, each spanning about 1,600 feet long (slightly longer than five football fields) which will be placed throughout the corridor. Workers have been surveying, staking, identifying and relocating utilities in preparation for the Line’s construction, as well as doing geotechnical investigations, acquiring soil samples, preparing design work and coordinating with cities on quiet zones and hike and bike trails. The $2 billion project is scheduled for completion in late 2022.
Testing for Sewer Line Leaks to Begin Next Week
Testing to look for leaks in the City’s sewer system will begin next week in Richardson (see map). The testing, conducted by the RJN Group, will involve the use of smoke to identify where storm water may be entering underground sewer lines. The smoke is nontoxic, with minimal odor, but it could be very visible in areas where leaks are detected.
Testing is expected to last approximately 1-2 weeks, weather permitting. Testing on specific streets within the study area should only take 20-30 minutes. If you live in the test area, you will see a notice placed on your front door at least 24 hours prior to the test. Street signs will also be placed at each end of the blocks where testing is underway. Smoke testing cannot be conducted if it is raining or has recently rained. If crews are unable to conduct testing in the notified areas due to weather, the areas will be re-notified before testing is conducted at a later date.
This is the fourth year of a multi-year schedule for smoke testing of the City’s 410 miles of sewer lines. Over the last three summers, 245 miles have been tested; 5.3 miles will be tested this summer.
City’s Virtual Duathlon Begins Saturday
The public is invited to participate in the City’s first “Virtual Summer Sizzler Duathlon” beginning July 18. The event will consist of a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, with each participant given three weeks to complete the miles at their own pace. Winners, awarded per division and gender, will be determined by how soon both tasks are completed after the 6 a.m. start time July 18. Participants keep track of mileage via any type of running/biking app tracker and submit results online.
Registration is $20 per person and includes a T-shirt. For more information and to register, click here.
Summer Slam Tennis Camps Still Open for Registration
Huffhines Tennis Center is offering weekly “Summer Slam” Tennis Camps for ages 5-16, all skill levels welcome. The camps meet Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Remaining dates are July 27-31 and Aug. 10-14. Campers learn new skills, meet new friends and participate in a tournament as well as a pizza party.
Cost is $150 (includes camp T-shirt). Bring a tennis racquet, water bottle, hat/visor and a small snack each day. Sign up at www.cor.net/parksonline, activity #19014 or #19015.
Summer Reading Club Benefits Network
This summer, participants in the Library’s Summer Reading Club (SRC) have an opportunity to enhance their reading skills, enjoy new books and earn books to keep, plus give back to the community at the same time, thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of the Richardson Public Library. SRC members who reach a reading milestone are able to select a prize book for themselves plus add a coin to the “community chest,” each coin representing a children’s book that will be donated to the Network of Community Ministries. The books are given to children who may not have access to many books in the summer.
SRC takes place through Aug. 2. Toddlers to teens may track their hours of reading (or hours someone reads to them) to earn “badges,” receiving a free book after earning the first badge, with more chances to win a prize at the end of the program. Tracking is done online; sign-up is ongoing.
“Clue the Musical” at Repertory Company Theatre July 17-19
Repertory Company Theatre, 770 N. Coit Rd., is presenting “Clue the Musical” July 17-19. The classic board game (and 1985 movie) comes to life on stage when six mysterious guests assemble at Boddy Manor for a night they’ll never forget. Was it Mrs. Peacock in the study with the knife? Or was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench? The audience can play along to solve the murder. The ending is determined by cards drawn by audience members that select the murderer, murder weapon and location of the murder, with 216 possible outcomes.
Show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets may be ordered online and are $28 for adults and $17 for youth. Check online for safety protocols being followed at each performance.
Lone Star Wind Orchestra Spearheads Virtual Global Performances
The Lone Star Wind Orchestra (LSWO), a local nonprofit organization funded in part by the Cultural Arts Commission, has been connecting musicians across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic by organizing global, virtual performances. The project is called the Lone Star Global Ensemble. It is a digital project where musicians download a play-along video, select a track to perform and upload their recording. Musicians in Richardson have been taking part and so have a lot of other people…from around the world.
City Parks Highlighted during Park and Recreation Month
In honor of July being National Park and Recreation Month, Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department is posting fun facts about parks on Facebook and highlighting features of Richardson’s many parks and trails. (Did you know that evidence not only shows that parks are cooler than their surrounding cities, but that they contribute to overall urban cooling? Do you know the location of Richardson’s newest park, that features a paved loop trail?) The posts are a great source of ideas of places to get outside and explore.
If you enjoy a Richardson park or trail this month, post a photo of your adventure on social media and use the hashtags #RichardsonTxOutdoors and #WeAreParksAndRec.
Animal Services Offers Tips re: Baby Wildlife
Animal Shelter staff is reminding the public on Facebook that sometimes the best help with wildlife is “no help,” especially in the case of non-injured baby wildlife that appear to be abandoned. It’s normal for certain animal parents to leave babies alone for a while, and interfering lessens the chance of the parent returning.
Here’s a partial list of non-injured baby animals that probably do not need rescuing:
- Bunnies with all their fur, at least eight inches long, eyes open and hopping around
- Squirrels with a fluffed-out tail and a body that is longer than six inches
- Baby birds with feathers, hopping on the ground. If you are concerned about a pet getting to it, place the baby in a bush nearby or on a tree limb nearby. If they are not feathered, try to put the baby back in the nest if you can.
If the parent does not appear to be returning, or for injured wildlife, contact the Shelter.
Animal Shelter Pet of the Week
This beautiful girl is Peanut! She is a boxer mix, black and white coat, spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. She is 10 years old and still full of great energy! Her original owner had declining health issues. Peanut loves to play, knows basic commands and is potty trained. Peanut does need to be in a single animal household. She is currently our longest stay resident at the Shelter. That’s more than six months without a forever home. Please contact us at 972-744-4480 to schedule a meet and greet!
For information about other animals available for adoption, visit the Animal Shelter’s web page here.
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