City Manager Update - March 6
The first week of March has left everyone asking, “Is it SPRING BREAK yet???” Massive downpours flooded our streets, a power outage shut down City Hall Wednesday afternoon, and Mayor Payton hosted a roundtable to take a proactive team approach to the Coronavirus. As we bring this week to a close, here are some of the noteworthy details from the past week.
City Manager’s Office: City Managers from Midland, San Angelo, and Abilene all met to discuss a long-term water supply for the three cities and negotiated options with one potential source. The meeting went well and the staff is hopeful that an interlocal agreement and contract will be ready for the three respective City Councils to discuss next month.
Representatives from the City Manager’s Office also attended Budget Kickoff meetings, the Airport Employee Appreciation Lunch, and Officer Nathan Heidelberg’s annual remembrance ceremony.
Public Information: In the Public Information Office, the hot items in the media this week was our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) round table discussion and the one-year anniversary of the passing of Officer Nathan “Hayden” Heidelberg. The Solid Waste “Department of the Month” spotlight focused on illegal dumping and how to properly dispose of large items. On the City of Midland’s Facebook page, posts were created for the Solid Waste spotlight video; the closure of low water crossings; COVID-19 round table discussion; Beal Dog Park closing; and a short video introducing our new utility billing software. On the Police Department’s Facebook page, posts were created for officer testing, a theft that took place at Target, a 43-year-old man that was reported missing (and later found), and Officer Heidelberg’s Remembrance Ceremony.
Administrative Services: The Employee Benefits Staff with Midland Health is rolling out the pilot, City of Midland Wellness Program Better Healthier You. This is a program exclusive to City of Midland employees that provides the tools, guidance, and expertise to help shape Midland into the healthiest community in Texas. The program will focus on improving risk factors directly influenced by sustainable lifestyle choices. The Potential Benefits for individuals and the community include: 1) Improve overall health and well-being, 2) Improved control of diabetes, 3) Lowering of blood pressure, 4) Lowering of blood lipid levels, 5) Reduced cost of prescription medication usage, 6) Reduced obesity, hypertension and better diabetes control in the community, 7) Generally a healthier community with more focus on plant-based nutrition. The nine-week pilot program will have 30 of our staff members participate. Staff interested in the program will need to complete an application prior to March 20th. Applications will be review by physicians at Midland Health to determine eligibility for the program.
Airport: The Airport hosted a Burger Bash to celebrate 12 months of positive enplanements. Over 230 burgers and 40 hot dogs were served to all Airline, Car Rental, Concessions, and FBO employees.
The contractors working on the outbound baggage replacement project have arrived and will start working behind the Southwest ticket counter next week.
CISD: The CISD Project Manager, Kiara Taylor, facilitated a Go-Live preparation session for the Northstar Utility billing project. Department representatives from Finance, Customer Service, Solid Waste, and the Public Information Office (PIO) were brought together to review the final planning for the go-live scheduled for March 28th. Citizen engagement and awareness tasks were given and include a letter that is being mailed out to inform citizens about the change. The PIO and Kiara also presented their media strategy including social media posts and engagements. CISD will setup community labs to assist citizens for the week of go-live.
CISD staff attended a regional Texas Association of IT Managers event with the Texas Department of Resources (DIR), DPS Emergency Management, and the State National Guard. The event focused on local government cybersecurity breaches and the roles the state and federal government have. More than 20 Texas local government entities were simultaneously breached in August. The DIR provided insight into the available resources for local governments as well as potential upcoming changes in regulation.
Community Development: We have finally gotten our inspector positions filled with a new plumbing inspector starting Monday. Code Administration has been very busy over the past week. Here are some of the numbers from the month of February.
- We have permitted 121 new homes in February. This is a total of 224 for the year. This is equal to about 1/4 of what permitted in the record year of 2018.
- Most importantly, we completed 85 new homes, which is the most we have ever completed in a month. That brings us to 125 for the calendar year.
Community Services: Wildlife Services started its laser beam treatment at the intersection of North Midland Drive and Loop 250. They started last weekend and will continue every evening, including weekends, until the problem is resolved. They are using a blue laser light beam to harass the grackles. The birds will eventually move from the area. The plan is to move south along Midland Drive as the problem seems to exist at a couple of intersections.
A leak was discovered in some piping at the Bush Convention Center. The pipe was pumping water from the elevator shaft up to the street curbing. The portion that was hidden by the ceiling came apart and until the rain, we were unaware of the problem. There was some ceiling damage caused by the water leak. Lee Lewis responded promptly and made the repair. They are in the process of repairing the damage to the ceiling.
The Midland Health Department responded to a complaint of an employee at a donut store bathing a child in the kitchen sink. Video of the situation circulated on social media.
The Midland Health Department was among the city departments participating in the Mayor’s roundtable discussion regarding the coronavirus. Other entities included MISD, the hospital, the county, and emergency management. All groups decided on what information needs to be shared with the public in an effort to answer questions and reduce fears; how the information would be shared; and it was agreed that each group would provide the same information.
Staff met with the RockHounds to discuss final maintenance projects prior to the baseball season starting.
Tina Jauz and Robert Patrick met with officials from Security Bank. They are seeking a naming rights assignment to reflect their name change. Security Bank will change to American Momentum Bank. They are asking to continue the current agreement with the name change. The item, along with a new agreement with the name change, will go before the council at the March 24 meeting. We are coordinating signage changes along with working with the RockHounds on marketing materials. Their desire is to have the ballpark named Momentum Bank Ballpark, dropping American from the stadium name as early as this season. No official changes will take place until after the council approval.
Fire: We had our 2019 Awards banquet on Friday, February 28th. Captain Michael Murray was the Officer of the Year, Ryan Collier was Firefighter of the Year, Jason Gomez was Paramedic of the Year, and Christopher Crump and Matt Rodriguez were Co-Rookies of the Year. The Administrative staff sat in on a Nationwide conference call with a Yale University Virologist to get the latest updates on the Coronavirus. The Midland Fire Department accepted a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant that will reimburse partial costs (75%-years 1 & 2, 25%-year 3) for 10 new firefighters for Station 11 over the next three years.
Utilities: On March 5th, a contractor working on Pilot Road damaged about 1000 feet of 6-inch sewer line while excavating for the road. Water and Wastewater (W&WW) is working with the contractor to get the sewer back in the ground and the businesses back with sewer service.
Utilities met with contractors to go over the possibility to change the disinfection at the Water Purification Plant from chloramination to chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide does a better job at disinfection during the treatment process and helps with taste and odor. We are at the beginning stages of this possibility and will need to contract with consultants to help determine if the process would work at the plant and an estimate of the cost to switch to this process.
General Services: The proposals have been scored for the construction of Fire Stations 5 & 11. Although Henthorn submitted the lowest cost of $11,270,000 for the base bid for the two fire stations and two alternates for the fueling station and wash station, MW Builders received the highest score; meeting the criteria. MW Builders bid $11,707,000 for the base bid and alternates. Martinez Architects and the City have entered into negotiations with MW Builders to try to bring the cost down closer to the $9,963,150 available budget. We anticipate the negotiations will take approximately two weeks and we are planning to submit the project to City Council for approval on April 14th. Below is a summary to date:
$11,707,000.00 Base Proposal for FS 5 & 11 plus two alternates
+ $66,609.30 Construction Testing costs for both fire stations
$11,773, 609.30 Total needed before the negotiation with the contractor
-$9,963,150.00 Total budgeted and available
$1,810,459.30 Shortage to date before the negotiation with the contractor
Engineering: Work continues on Tradewinds Boulevard as crews are placing curb and gutter, base course, street lighting, and paving.
Citywide Concrete Program – The contractor is installing ADA-compliant ramps at various roadways selected for the FY 2020 Mill/Inlay Project.
Abell Junior High School – Construction started this week on a new pedestrian crossing on Wadley Ave at Wrigley, in front of Abell JHS. This enhanced crossing will include a small raised median on Wadley to allow students to cross in two stages with a refuge area in the middle. Overhead flashing beacons, similar to those at the Concho crossing on Illinois Ave, will also be included. This will replace the uncontrolled crosswalks at Heritage Ave, and the school district will construct a new sidewalk on-site to connect this crossing to the school’s main entrance at a later time.
Lee High School – Staff is coordinating with MISD on the design of a raised median with two pedestrian crosswalks on Neely Ave in front of Lee HS. Transportation plans to mill and repave this segment of Neely as part of the FY20 maintenance program, and that presents the opportunity to make these traffic improvements in advance of paving. The median will help to reduce vehicle speeds, prevent passing and U-turn movements, and facilitate pedestrian crossings. Work is expected to start soon after the school year ends this summer.
Road & Utility Bond Project
- Year 2 - Louisiana Ave Paving - Paving of Louisiana is complete. The contractor is working on the paving of the north/south streets.
- Year 2 - Michigan Ave Paving – Construction of concrete and ADA is nearing completion. Paving to begin in a few weeks.
- Year 2 - Wood Dr. & Oriole Dr. Paving - Wood drive is paved. Concrete is currently being placed on Oriole.
- Year 2 - Bluebird Ln - The contractor is installing a storm drain. The relocation of the waterline is complete. Paving work is delayed by Franchise Utilities.
- Year 2 - Carter Ave Water and Paving - Waterline work is complete. Base and paving are being held up by Franchise Utilities.
- Year 2 – Bankhead Hwy Paving – Contractor has paved the road. The project is nearing completion.