March 19, 2021
This 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 Updated on Streets, Alleys, Sidewalks
The City Council heard a briefing from City Engineering staff Monday regarding the current state and future needs of Richardson’s streets, alleys and sidewalks, in advance of determining uses for a possible 2021 G.O. bond program. Richardson streets and alleys are traditionally ranked into four categories (Poor, Fair, Satisfactory and Good) in determining repair/rehabilitation priorities, using several factors including age, pavement condition, water and sewer conditions and traffic volume, and staff reported that Fair and Poor streets are deteriorating at a rate that is exceeding our current reconstruction resources. The list of possible projects focuses on those in the Poor category with the greatest needs.
Candidate projects include:
- Greenville Avenue (considered an “arterial” street) between Belt Line and Spring Valley roads,
- Custer Road/Custer Parkway (a “collector” street”) between Campbell Road and Renner Road,
- the entire length of Westshore Drive (a “neighborhood collector” street), and
- numerous residential and commercial streets and alleys.
Proposed costs are $97.6 million for the highest priority projects and $269.3 million for all proposed street/alley projects.
All but one of the 27 regions in the Residential Sidewalk Repair program, funded by the 2006, 2010 and 2015 Bond Programs, are complete, and the last region will start construction in April. As the repair cycle begins again, City staff propose consolidating some regions and adding nine commercial regions to the list for a Citywide Sidewalk Repair Program, with prioritization based on barrier-free ramp and accessibility needs. Estimated costs for the combined project total a little over $34.6 million, with $6.3 million included for the commercial portion.
To view Monday’s briefing including maps of the streets, alleys and sidewalks targeted by the plans, click here.
IQ®, Core District Improvements Considered for Possible Bond Program
Development staff presented an outline of eight projects at Monday’s City Council work session to be considered for inclusion in a possible 2021 G.O. pond program. The projects would enhance areas of Richardson targeted for redevelopment, primarily the IQ® and the Core District.
The projects discussed include:
- Intersection improvements at Belt Line/US 75, including a wider sidewalk with enhanced lighting that would connect the downtown area with the Lockwood District and Richardson Heights Shopping Center
- Polk Street alley improvements to create a pedestrian passageway
- McKinney Street reconstruction
- Center turn lanes along Main Street
- Glenville Drive reconstruction between Campbell and Arapaho roads, that would add a raised bicycle and tech lane intended for bots and other automated delivery services
- Arapaho Road and US 75 intersection improvements for pedestrian/bike safety
- Collins Boulevard bridge improvements
- Duck Creek Trail enhancements
Total cost estimate for all eight projects is $44 million. After incorporating feedback from Monday’s discussion, staff will refine and revisit the plans with the City Council in April. If officially called in August, the bond election would be held in November.
Parks Department Completes Street Sand Cleanup
After multiple shifts totaling 20 hours a day of sweeping, road cleaning crews completed street sweeping March 10 that began Feb. 23 after sand was dropped to treat roads for February’s severe winter weather event. Cleanup crews focused first on major arterials, such as US 75 and intersections at major cross streets, then worked their way into neighborhoods, where sand was dropped on bridges and intersections. The street sweeping was expected to last as long as it did due to availability of trucks. The City has one street sweeping vehicle but contracts an outside company to help with citywide cleaning, and that contractor was also working to sweep other cities’ streets.
SCNA Portals Recognized in International Design Awards
Richardson-based stone and masonry company Dee Brown, Inc., and Minnesota-based Coldspring, a quarrier and fabricator of granite and natural stone, have been awarded an international 2020 Pinnacle Award of Excellence for their work with the City in creating the entry portals at Richardson’s Spring Creek Nature Area. The Pinnacle Awards is a worldwide competition held by the Natural Stone Institute, which is comprised of companies representing more than 50 countries.
The leaf-themed portals, comprised of benches, sculptures and pass-through entryways made of Kenoran Sage granite, sit at the two northern corners of the 100-acre park and provide visible gathering spaces/welcome areas as well as connect the SCNA Perimeter Trail with the park’s inner trail system. Their creation in 2019 was one of the first major initiatives to come from the Spring Creek Nature Area Master Plan approved by the City Council in 2015.
Richardson Named Seventh Best City to Buy a Home
For the second year in a row, Richardson has placed No. 7 on a nationwide list of Best Cities to Buy a Home in America recently released by Niche, a Pennsylvania-based company that ranks U.S. neighborhoods, schools and businesses. Niche ranked 228 cities (with populations of 100,000 or greater) based on analysis of key statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews. Niche analysts described Richardson as “one of the best places to live in Texas,” offering residents an “urban suburban mix feel” with a lot of restaurants, coffee shops and parks, highly ranked schools and a mix of families and young professionals.
Richardson received an A+ from Niche in its categories of Diversity and Good for Families, and an A in Public Schools, Health and Fitness, and Nightlife. Richardson also ranks No. 5 out of 228 on Niche’s list of Best Places to Retire in America and No.12 on the lists, “Best Places to Live in America” and “Best Places to Raise a Family in America.”
For more information on the report and Richardson’s ranking, click here.
Mayor Honors Retiring Fujitsu CEO
Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker honored former President and CEO of Fujitsu America, Inc. Mikito “Mike” Kiname this week with a “Key to the City.” After more than 10 years with Fujitsu in Richardson, Kiname has retired and plans to move to Japan. In a framed letter given to Kiname, Voelker praised Kiname’s leadership in helping Fujitsu “set an example for other local businesses by showing the impact and benefits good corporate stewardship can bring to employees and the community.” Fujitsu has been an active participant in the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, the Leadership Richardson program and the City’s Corporate Challenge Program.
The Key to the City is the highest honor a mayor can bestow upon a member of the community. The practice can be traced back to medieval times in Europe, when admission into a city was hampered by many legal restrictions, as well as by walls and locked gates. Today, the key is symbolic to honor the outstanding civic contributions of those who receive it.
Crossing Improvements Scheduled for Plano Road at Larkspur Drive
The right lanes of northbound and southbound Plano Road at Larkspur Drive (phase 1) and then the left lanes of northbound and southbound Plano Road and the median in the same area (phase 2) may be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. for concrete demolition and installation of new ADA ramps as well as foundations for Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons to be installed at the crossing. The work is expected to be complete in late April.
Temporary Lane Closure Expected Near Buckingham/Abrams
The left lane of westbound Buckingham Road just to the west and east of Abrams Road may be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. for the addition of a left turn lane. The work is expected to be complete by early May.
“IQ® Brew” Online Series March 25: Learn About Free SCORE Business Services
Mary Cooley, an instructor with SCORE, will be the featured speaker at the next “IQ® Brew,” Thursday, March 25 from 9-10 a.m. online. Attendees will learn about SCORE Dallas, a nonprofit organization that provides free workshops, webinars and mentoring to help entrepreneurs start new business and help existing businesses grow. There is no cost to participate; click here to register.
The IQ® Brew is a free networking and educational series hosted by City Development staff that features short presentations from entrepreneurs, small businesses, innovation ecosystem builders and subject-matter experts. For more dates and speakers in the series, click here.
Registration Ends Saturday for “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny to Go”
Better “hop to it” if you want to attend “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny to Go,” Saturday, March 27 from 9-10 a.m. at Heights Recreation Center. Registration ends tomorrow, March 20, for the fun family event, which will include an appearance by the famed cottontail and a “to-go” breakfast. Each registration includes one donut, juice and a small craft to take home. Participants must remain in their vehicles.
Cost is $5 per person; pre-registration is required. To sign up, visit www.cor.net/parksonline and choose activity #23583.
Contact: Heights Recreation Center, 972-744-7850
Friends of the Library Offers No-Cost “Little Free Library®” Kits
Friends of the Richardson Public Library (FOL) is offering free unassembled Little Free Library® kits and a starter collection of books to Richardson homeowners interested in spreading the joy of reading. The tiny “library in a box” initiative, which started in Wisconsin in 2009, encourages homeowners, businesses and organizations to place mini libraries on poles or stands on their property in an easily accessible spot and offer free books for all ages on a “take a book, return a book” basis. A map at the FOL website shows 18 LFLs located in Richardson, including inside the Richardson Animal Shelter and in the Richardson Public Library’s outdoor Reading Garden.
Each LFL “Amish shed”-style kit includes:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Pre-cut, pre-drilled pieces
- Screws, nails and hardware
- A “Little Free Library® Original” medallion
- A “steward’s packet” with details on setting up and maintaining your Library
For more information or to apply for one of the kits, visit www.richardsonfol.org/little-free-libraries.
Richardson Woman’s Club Raffle Continues
Tickets still remain for the Richardson Woman’s Club (RWC) raffle being held throughout March and April for a 20-inch x 26-inch watercolor entitled, “Bluebonnets of Texas,” donated by local artist Elsie Hicks. The raffle closes April 30 at 5 p.m. (or when all 200 tickets are sold) and takes place online at www.biddingowl.com/rwc. Price is $50 per ticket. The winner will be announced May 6; participants need not be present to win.
Hicks is a longtime, active member of the Richardson Woman’s Club and has been recognized several times by the Richardson Civic Art Society. In addition, she has exhibited in numerous galleries.
All proceeds from the raffle will be used by the RWC to fund the club’s community outreach as well as scholarships for RISD seniors.
Learn About Solar System March 25
Children and teens in grades 3-8 are invited to learn about our solar system Thursday, March 25 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. online via Webex. Join NASA Solar System Ambassador Michelle Wilde as she talks about the sun, planets, asteroids, comets and more.
There is no cost to attend but registration is required; call 972-744-4358 to register.
Virtual STEAM Starters Project March 26
All ages are invited to make fun STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) projects with everyday household items each month with help from “STEAM Starters” videos created and posted by the Library on Facebook. The latest will be posted Friday, March 26 beginning at 10:30 a.m. and will demonstrate how to make a marble run using cardboard tubes. There is no charge to view and registration is not required.
View past STEAM project demonstrations on the page as well, including how to make pan flutes from drinking straws (posted Feb. 26) and building a solar updraft tower using cans (posted Jan. 22).
Hour of Code March 26
Learn coding online with the help of Library staff Friday, March 26 on Webex. Children ages 9-12 are invited to meet on Webex for the “Hour of Code” lessons from 4-5 p.m.
There is no charge to participate, but registration is required. Call 972-744-4358 to register.
- PSO Livestream March 20: “Mozart and KV265”
8 p.m. via livestream. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased here. The Plano Symphony Orchestra performs Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” as arranged by Ravel, accompanied by KV265’s film, “Science Through Art” that features images from the Hubble Telescope. Famed Russian pianist Mikhail Berestnev opens the concert with “Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major K.467,” one of Mozart’s most spirited piano concertos.
- “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” March 27-28
3 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 27 and 3 p.m. March 28 in the Hill Performance Hall. Tickets are $49.50-$59.50 (receive a 50 percent discount with the promo code LION).
The show gives the audience a “you are there” feel, as if they are being hosted at the home of the late British author C.S. Lewis (played by David Payne), listening to him talk as he sits by the fire. Lewis recalls the people and events that inspired his thought and shaped his life; his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien; why he nearly abandoned the Narnia Chronicles; how he came to embrace Christianity and of the American woman who turned his life upside down.
- “A Celebration of Friendship” Art Exhibit Continues
Noon-5 p.m. weekdays and during all public events, through May 31 in the Green Mezzanine Gallery. Admission is free.
Dallas artist Melanie M. Brannan presents a series of more than 20 paintings that chronicle a deep friendship (with the late Maryann Wegloski, former Eisemann Center House Manager) and explore her emotions as her friend struggled with a diagnosis of nodular melanoma. Brannan is donating 100 percent of the net proceeds from the show to the AIM at Melanoma Foundation, and the Eisemann Center is donating back its usual commission on works sold to maximize the donation.
Unless otherwise noted, tickets to Eisemann Center events are available at the Eisemann Center Ticket Office (credit card only), 972-744-4650 and at www.eisemanncenter.com. Click here for more information about the Eisemann Center’s COVID-19 safety procedures.
- Theatre UTD: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Online All Month
Available to watch in episodes on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, no charge. Direct links and a complete schedule of episodes are available here.
Filmed in fall 2020, the project features a Theatre UTD student cast and crew and takes Shakespeare’s most well-known romantic comedy into our modern pandemic world.
Top Composers, Directors Featured in LSWO’s “Lone Star Conversations”
The Lone Star Wind Orchestra, a local arts organization funded in part by the City’s Cultural Arts Commission, is presenting a web series entitled, “Lone Star Conversations,” featuring interviews with some of the music industry’s leading composers and conductors. Past guests have included Ian Weinberger, musical director of Broadway’s “Hamilton;” upcoming guests include Julie Giroux April 6. Giroux is the first female composer to be featured at a US Presidential Inauguration and the youngest person and first female to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Direction, in 1992.
The sessions are free to the public and continue through May 18 on Zoom from 5:30-6:30 p.m.; online registration is required to attend. Click here to register.
Socially Distanced “Spamalot” Opens Tonight at RCT
Repertory Company Theatre, 770 N. Coit #2405, is presenting the 2005 Broadway hit musical, “Spamalot,” through March 28, played to a “socially separated audience by a cast of socially separated actors, appropriately placed.” Based on the classic film comedy, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Spamalot” retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in true Monty Python style.
Show days and times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults and $17 for teens.
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” Continues at The Core Theatre
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is being presented through March 28 at The Core Theatre, 518 W. Arapaho Rd. Ste. 115. The play is an adaptation written by Core Theatre Artistic Director James Hansen Prince, including all of Mark Twain’s beloved characters from the classic book.
Show days and times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will not be a show March 27. Tickets are $10-$25 and may be purchased online.
Chamber Music International Live Streams Concert March 20
Chamber Music International presents a live stream concert Saturday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. featuring Tchaikovsky Competition prize winning violinist Andres Cardenes, pianist Hyunsoo Kim and cellist Ko Lwasaki.
They will perform the works of Leclair, Franck & Mendelssohn.
Visit www.chambermusicinternational.org for more information including purchasing tickets for the online concert.
Blue Bag Letters Mailed This Week
The City’s annual “blue bag letters” were mailed this week and should have arrived in mailboxes. The letters can be taken to one of several City facilities (listed in the letter) to be redeemed for two rolls of 26 blue recycling bags (52 total). There is no expiration date on the letters (past years’ letters are still redeemable as well). Note: At City Hall, the blue bag pickup table is just inside the west entrance doors, not in the Grand Hall.
Through the Blue Bag Program, homeowners can combine all of their recyclable material into one bag and place it out for weekly pickup service. A list of items that are accepted can be found on the City’s recycling web page, which also includes maps showing the weekly recycling pickup days for various areas of the city. The City also provides a drop-off recycling center that is open to residents from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week, located at the Westside Pump Station, 101 N. Cottonwood Dr.
Parks Department Sees Plants Bounce Back, Urges Residents to be Patient
If you have plants that suffered damage during last month’s winter weather event, Parks and Recreation Department staffers are saying to be patient. Parks employees said some of the plant material they thought would be severely impacted by the week of sub-freezing temperatures is bouncing back now that the spring weather has arrived in North Texas. Trees such as live oaks lost all their leaves following the storm, but buds are now appearing and new leaves should be just around the corner.
Because browned and dead-looking plants can produce new leaves from old stem tissues, Parks staffers suggest giving struggling plants plenty of water, some fertilizer and a bit more time before making the decision to cut them down. For more tips on helping plants recover from freeze damage, click here.
Animal Shelter Pet of the Week
She’s got style, she’s got grace, she has such a cute face and she’s a lady! Silvey is a spayed female lynx point Siamese who we believe to be around 4 years of age. She came into the Shelter as a stray cat March 4. She is fully vaccinated and waiting for her forever family. She is friendly but a little on the shy side. She loves head scratches and will chirp at you! If you cannot resist her cuteness and want to adopt her, make an appointment by clicking this link: https://richardsonanimalshelter.setmore.com/.
For information about animals available for adoption, visit the Animal Shelter’s web page here.
City Council Links
To read previous Week in Reviews,