Monday, January 17, 2011

Commendations – The QuikTrip Decision Process

I write today to commend those on City Council who were bold in choosing to defer, as opposed to deny, the recent actions regarding the southern entry into Coppell. Council member Karen Hunt (who led the effort), along with Tim Brancheau, Marvin Franklin and Brianna Hinojosa-Flores are heartily thanked for their efforts, as are the citizens of Coppell who showed up to voice their opinions.

As much as all of us would love to see a grand entrance into Coppell, bracketed by all the "right" types of amenities, we long ago proved that those who wait do not get any of the above. The retail amenities that Coppell should have now all belong to our neighbors. Bookstores? Get in the car and go to Irving, Lewisville or Southlake. Specialty retail – same story. A diverse breadth of restaurants? Not here, in my opinion.

It is time to make a reasonable decision about the subject tract of land and realize that no matter our efforts and wishes, others control the image opportunity as much as the City. Immediately north and adjacent to this tract is land belonging to Billingsley. While I expect that they, too, want to put a signature image on their development, Coppell has absolutely no control over that piece of dirt, and the City of Dallas long ago proved that they don't care about what those of us in Coppell might think. Likewise, the land immediately east and south is in Irving, and is already either developed or amidst final planning. Again, we have no control.

Interestingly, I don't even think that many who travel either along Belt Line or 635/LBJ even know where Coppell begins and ends, so the implication that by allowing a high-end fuel station to be sited as proposed we somehow diminish the branding opportunity to differentiate Coppell from its adjacent neighbors seems a folly to me. The exit signs from 635 do not denote Coppell as a possibility when taking one of those exits. As a sidebar, we should have some signage on 635/LBJ noting that Coppell can be reached by many exits, but for some reason we sit in obscurity for lack of same.

Finally, from a practical perspective, we need this facility in Coppell. We see far too many of our own expenditures take place outside our limits, simply because the services are not yet provided here. In doing so we see our potential tax revenues diminished, and our level of city services adversely impacted.

Let's make a decision based on reality, and not stand back and hope as we have done so many times in the past.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Progress on Sandy Lake Road!

I talked with Coppell City Manager Clay Phillips late last week and he informed me that it appears that some of the real estate right-of-way acquisition related to Sandy Lake Road westward from Denton Tap Road has come to a successful conclusion. It will take a few weeks to get the legal formalities handled, but this is exciting progress indeed. While Clay was expectedly circumspect with regard to when the project may actually be underway or completed, he assured me that this is a high priority for the City and that progress should be apparent within a relatively short timeframe.

The disappointing part (not surprising to me) is that the project scope will only run westward to the three-way intersection with Coppell Road, and will not, at this time, include the remainder (west from there to North Coppell Road) as that section was "federalized" some time back and the bridge and wetlands related to the creek crossing will cause ongoing delays and an undetermined timeline as of now.

Hopeful progress nonetheless...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yes, Another Post on Sandy Lake Road...

Yesterday's evening (about 5 pm) traffic was backed up from Denton Tap westward all the way to Whispering Hills. Funny how congested traffic gets when the City staff and Council defer, for over eleven years, the voter's mandate to improve said roadway. One lane in each direction instead of two, and no turning lane... It's a wonder that traffic isn't even more tightly constrained. Thankfully I am not aware of any auto-pedestrian accidents along this roadway for three or so weeks now.

It also baffles me as to why the protected turn onto Denton Tap (northbound, from eastbound Sandy Lake Road) at that time of day only allows about four cars to pass before the signal goes from a protected arrow to green (and thus yielding to oncoming traffic). It can easily take four cycles of traffic light rotation before one can make it through the intersection. Not so in any other direction...

I only wish I had taken photos of the signs the City erected on Sandy Lake years ago that proclaimed that construction would be undertaken on the subject stretch of road sometime between 2003 and 2005. Maybe 2013 and 2015...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sandy Lake Road...

I remain mystified over the fact that the community outcry over the failure of the City's leadership (both elected and employed) to act on the Sandy Lake Road has been so sedate.

It was great to see the article two issues ago in the Coppell Citizen's Advocate that went into some detail about the accident about two weeks ago between a Coppell High School student who was struck by a car as the student was attempting to cross Sandy Lake Road en route to classes.

In response, the City leaned on its longtime defense by citing limitations within the Americans With Disabilities Act that precludes their intervention without adequate pedestrian accessibility on both sides of the street after a safe crossing has been facilitated. While no-doubt accurate in the strict reading of the law, I find it incredible that a more practical approach hasn't been developed. While there are several thousand feet of Sandy Lake that require improvement (and the remaining asphalt pavement is failing at a very rapid rate), an interim solution could easily be implemented by breaking the project into smaller pieces, with the initial focus being around that intersection with Whispering Hills where the students cross every day.

Another surprising point in the article was that the Coppell Independent School District does not view the crossing as dangerous, and therefore those students who choose not to pay for school bus services (and who have no other way to get to and from the High School), must instead risk their safety every day.

I challenge the City's and CISD's leaders to quit making excuses and to implement creative and productive ways to solve the immediate need to act in the best interests of our children (and other pedestrians) while finally committing to a comprehensive solution for the remaining section of the roadway that was mandated by voters in 1999.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Accident on Sandy Lake This Morning...

One of our neighbors reported having seen a pedestrian struck by an automobile on the still-unimproved section of Sandy Lake Road west of Denton Tap Road this morning. My prayers go out to all those involved, most especially the youngster that was struck.

My frustration is again extended to the Leaders of our City - the City Manager, City Council and Staff that have, for more than ten years, failed to execute and complete the voter mandate to improve that stretch of road.

I'm anxious to hear from those same Leaders what their plans are to honor their Commitment to the Voters.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Does Anyone Else Care?

School starts again next week. Just a couple of days ago I saw two boys on bicycles waiting for automobile traffic on Sandy Lake (west of Denton Tap, just east of Whispering Hills) to clear in both directions so that they could safely cross that very busy street. Thankfully they were successful and no harm came of their need to cross from the north side of Sandy Lake to the south side.

With school beginning next week that challenge will be repeated numerous times every day, as Coppell high schoolers who either by choice or economic circumstances find that they must get to and from school either by walking or aboard a bicycle. Bus service, despite the danger of crossing the roadway, is not a free option for most of those who live south of Sandy Lake Road.

Voters in our fair city approved the mandate to upgrade Sandy Lake from its crumbling two-lane asphalt, ditch-bordered status to a modern four-lane curbed concrete roadway. That election took place more than TEN YEARS AGO!

In the meantime we've seen the city build a lightly used amphitheater park, upgrade numerous lesser-used roads, begin construction on new tennis facilities, do repair work on already upgraded portions of Sandy Lake Road, spend millions of dollars on unusable (for now) land OUTSIDE the city and take almost NO action on the subject section of Sandy Lake.

When will the City Manager and City Council make this the priority project our students and citizens deserve?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mandates, Priorities and Leadership

I find that once more I must stand on the soapbox to wonder where the priorities of our City lie.

Ten years ago the voters of Coppell authorized bonds that were to be used to complete that portion of Sandy Lake Road that runs westward from Denton Tap Road to the intersection of Coppell Road North. Thousands (7,000 per day – each direction - as of the last study on the Coppell website) of vehicles travel on that roadway every day, and dozens of our finest young citizens cross the roadway during the school year to get to and from the high school campus. For those that aren’t familiar with the roadway I am describing, it is a two-way, single lane in each direction, asphalt road that has a patchwork of patches and cracks from lack of attention and normal wear and tear. The students that I referenced must cross the two lanes without the benefit of sidewalks or even much in the way of a shoulder, as there are deep ditches that are immediately adjacent to the road surface.

The City has been aware for years of the dangers our students (and others) face as they travel on or across this road by way of anything except an automobile, but nothing ever seems to get done. Let me rephrase that – the City did put some asphalt patches on a portion of the road just a few weeks ago. Thanks. The road is still extremely dangerous and in need of replacement.

The City also says that it has studied the issue of getting students and other pedestrians safely across the roadway, but because there is not a sufficient “landing area” on either side to afford adequate safety, then the ordinances and statutes don’t allow a solution of this type. Here’s an idea – do what the voters mandated ten years ago and rebuild the roadway! If as the City has suggested there are Federal issues to be dealt with in crossing a creek in the area just east of Coppell Road North, then break the project into two or more components and fix the pieces that aren’t impacted!

From a priorities standpoint the City and its leadership have again demonstrated where their focus is aimed as the intersection of Sandy Lake and Denton Tap on Monday June 7 went under construction to replace the brick pavers with concrete. While I certainly agree that the intersection has some issues (there were four asphalted potholes when I looked yesterday), I cannot understand why this project warrants a higher priority than fulfilling the voter’s mandate that is ten years old. This is but one recent choice made by our leaders that puzzles me – South Coppell Road immediately in front of the City’s beautiful maintenance facility was just completed; Southwestern Boulevard is almost done; both have daily traffic counts considerably less than Sandy Lake Road, and neither would likely have significant numbers of students attempting to cross the roadway.

I once again ask our leadership (Council, City Manager and Staff) to quit ignoring this issue and come up with a solution. I pray that no one dies or is seriously injured for lack of appropriate action.