AGGRESSIVE PANHANDLING ADDRESSED
After pulling the item from the consent agenda, the Fort Worth City Council at its Jan. 24 meeting further discussed and approved an ordinance that addresses aggressive panhandling, saying the current city code was not sufficient to deal with this issue. The new ordinance would restrict panhandling in areas where residents are more likely to be vulnerable to harassment and intimidation, and where their health and safety might be more likely under threat.
The council noted there has been an increase in aggressive begging, panhandling or soliciting throughout the city that has become disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses and has contributed to the loss of access to and enjoyment of public places. Such panhandling can also lead to a greater sense of fear, intimidation, violence and disorder.
District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens stressed that there is a difference between homelessness and panhandling, and that this ordinance is to help the city get more control on the latter.
“These are not people standing on corners with signs,” she said.
Bivens also noted that panhandlers operate differently given geography and that this ordinance is addressing such places.
Aggressive begging, panhandling or soliciting usually includes approaching or following pedestrians, repetitive begging, panhandling, or soliciting despite refusals, the use of abusive or profane language, unwanted physical contact, or the intentional blocking of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
“This is not an ordinance against the homeless,” District 4 Councilman Cary Moon said. “We will follow up this pedestrian ordinance with a road ordinance.”
Moon urged those wanting to help the homeless and others in need to give to social programs designed for such.
City Manager David Cooke is getting a pay raise. The council approved a 4 percent increase for Cooke, who has been on the job since June 30, 2014.
Cooke is one of several city employees who got a bump in pay at the recent meeting. City Secretary Mary J. Kayser and City Attorney Sarah J. Fullenwider also received a 4 percent pay increase.
Cooke’s new salary is $327,595. Fullenwider is now at $253,544 and Kayser is at $129,787.
City Auditor Rhonda Randle received the highest percentage pay raise, 6 percent, upping her salary to $146,619.
The council was meeting for the first time in 2017 after taking more than a month off for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN MOVES FORWARD
The council authorized execution of a contract with TIP Strategies Inc. for $350,000 to develop a Strategic Economic Development Plan. This plan has been in the works for several months.
Fort Worth Director of Economic Development Robert Sturns said this is a move closer to implementing the broader plan that is designed to increase the city’s economic base. Last year, the council and Sturns’ office went through an extensive review of the policies.
“The strategic plan, the first that has been undertaken by the city, is an important next step in the process,” Sturns said. “While Fort Worth has experienced some outstanding growth over the last decade, we still see troubling signs as we look to the future. Our commercial tax base lags behind residential and our wage growth has been somewhat stagnant.
“Our goal is to align our strategies to more effectively deal with some of these issues. The plan will involve significant coordination with our local partners and the business community to ensure that we are positioning Fort Worth as a premier community for business growth and expansion while producing the workforce that is needed to fill these jobs over the next decade.”
MINORITY/WOMEN ADVISORY PANEL NAMED
In October, the council adopted a resolution reorganizing the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee to increase it from nine to 18 members. The new panel would consist of one representative from each of the four chambers of commerce, six partner organizations that promote the use and growth of woman- and minority-owned businesses, one regional certification agency, two community groups and five internal city departments.
At its Jan. 24 meeting the council appointed the 18 individuals to two-year terms, with no representative serving more than three consecutive terms. They are: Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Brandom Gengelbach; Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, Dee Jennings; Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, John Hernandez; US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce – Southwest, Grace McDermott; Regional Hispanic Contractors Association, John Martinez; Black Contractors Association, John Proctor; Women’s Business Council – Southwest, Debbie Hurst; DFW Minority Supplier Development Council, Margo Posey; Association of General Contractors, Jack Baxley; Tarrant County Contractors Association, Troy Woody; North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency, Elicia Mitchell; Black Ecumenical Leader Alliance, Bishop Kenneth B. Spears; National Association of Minority Contractors, Demetria Bevin; city Transportation and Public Works Department, Michael Owen; city Water Department, Roberto C. Sauceda; city Property Management Department, DeAnna (Tate) Cody; city Parks Department, David Creek; and city Economic Development/Business Diversity Office, Gwen Wilson.
MOTORCYCLES DONATED TO POLICE
The council acceptance a donation of eight 2017 KTM 350-EXC-F Dual Sport Motorcycles donated by the Tarrant Regional Water District for use by the Fort Worth Police Department.
The motorcycles are valued at around $78,000. The donation also includes about $17,000 for outfitting the bikes.
The motorcycles will allow officers to patrol areas not normally accessible by other means. This includes more than 89 miles of trails along the Trinity River and about 250 miles of trails throughout the city.
In the city council work session before the meeting, Dana Burghdoff from the Planning and Development Office provided the council with an overview of significant zoning cases. This included a hotel proposed at 1120 Magnolia Ave. in the Near Southside. Some area residents are opposed to the plan. Plans are for the 138-room hotel to be six stories on the south side fronting Magnolia and four stories on the north side fronting Oleander Way, with residential units overlooking Oleander Way.
On the west, a parking garage and condominiums will be constructed. The four-story structure will also overlook Oleander Way.
The rental units are expected to be one- to two-bedroom and the condominium mix is estimated to be two and three bedrooms.
Commercial space will be provided on the ground floor along Magnolia. A restaurant and possibly retail are expected.
A minimum of two courtyards open to the public will be provided along Henderson Street, which runs between the two properties. The street would be redeveloped with roll curbs and reconstructed to encourage slower traffic and pedestrian activity.
AVIATION CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
The council also approved the Aviation Department’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, including activities for each of the city’s three airports.
Alliance Airport: A Federal Aviation Administration Part 150 noise study and the extension of both runways. The runway extension project is scheduled to conclude in 2018. Going forward the Alliance CIP will focus on maintenance and improvements directly related, such as airfield lighting, and improvements to shoulders, taxiways, aprons and drainage. Other typical CIP investments include replacing vehicles and equipment and on-going pavement repairs and replacement.
Meacham International Airport: Renovation of the terminal/administration building completed in December. In looking ahead, improvements will encompass the rehabilitation and replacement of a significant amount of pavement, most of it within aircraft ramp areas. Also addressed are improvements to the airport’s frontage to North Main Street as phased additions, the engineering and design of the redevelopment of runway 9/27, which was closed in 2015.
Spinks Airport: Improving taxiway and roadway access to the airport’s east side, airfield lighting upgrades, construction and/or acquisition of box and T-hangars to increase airport revenue and sustainability, on-going pavement repairs/replacement at taxiways, runways, and aprons and replacement of vehicles and equipment.
Capital revenue sources include the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation, FAA, Enterprise Fund (primary revenue sources being from leases of buildings, hangars and ground; a per-gallon fuel flowage fee; landing fees at Alliance Airport), the Gas Well Legacy Trust Fund (revenue generated by gas wells on airport property), and Gas Well Usable Funds (a proportion of gas well revenue not placed in the Trust Fund).