From the Sidelines

New Stop Signs on Simmons
Quarterly Reports to Town Council were scheduled on January 16th.  I have a conflicting appointment Monday evenings so I can’t often attend but I was glad to be there that night.  I was delighted to see all the attendance for the meeting.  Many of the folks that came wanted to talk to the council about the new stop signs.

The Freedom of Information Act requires that any item to be deliberated by Town Council be placed on the agenda and published seventy-two hours prior to the meeting.  Our agendas are posted on a bulletin board outside of Town Hall at the entrance to the parking lot so that the building doesn’t need to be open for any interested person to stop by for a look.  To make viewing the agenda easier, it is also posted on the town website so everyone can get caught up on the happenings without leaving home.

There is no law that permits visitors to a council meeting to express themselves or to talk to Council about concerns.  Visitors, by law, are there to listen, not participate.  That is not the Double Oak way.  We have always encouraged people to attend and to address the Council during an agenda item called CITIZEN’S COMMENTS.

By law, Council cannot interact nor deliberate anything brought up in comments but they can place the item of interest on a future agenda so that it may be discussed and acted upon by Town Council.

The citizens that attended the meeting on the 16th wanted to talk about the new stop signs on Simmons Road.  In my January article I indicated that I found them irritating.  I make it a habit to drive just below the speed limit and stopping every few blocks impedes my progress.  But there were comments on both sides.  Folks that live on Simmons were supportive because it had clearly slowed traffic.  Others, like the friends that complained to me, thought the signs were bad.  One man even quoted my article.  I just write it I never contemplate that people actually read this stuff.

My point here is that the Council heard both sides of the story and there are definitely two sides to this story.  The police department keeps good statistics.  The sign placement was approved by Town Council.  Conditions before the signs were placed are on record and records will be kept concerning safety after the sign placement.  I expect that six months to a year of records will be sufficient to make a good judgment.  There has even been talk about forming a committee to decide stop sign placement.

Double Oak had an ordinance on the books when I first served on Town Council authorizing the Chief of Police to decide on stop sign placement.  That ordinance was made by Town Council and can be changed by the same body.  I always liked and supported that rule.  Our current chief is the best qualified, in my opinion, of all that have served our town.  All have been good.  All have been experienced.  But Chief Watson is experienced enough to know that stop sign placement is more than a safety issue.  He is more comfortable to make recommendations and let the council act.

He is the expert.  None of the council or the current or former mayors are traffic experts.  I don’t enjoy ‘extra’ stop signs.  But I do want Double Oak to be a safe haven for our kids, our pedestrians and runners.  To me, safety of our residents has to top minor irritations. 

That council meeting was a lesson in democracy.  Everyone was heard.  Speakers were well informed and direct in their comments.  The audience was courteous and respectful.  I was proud to be present and happy to see a room full of interested people participating in government.  As much as I dislike stopping at every corner, if installing stop signs is what it takes to get people to show up and participate, I’m all for it.

Simmons Road Reconstruction
The last time I looked, all the barriers were down.  I don’t believe that the project is signed of as complete yet, but we’re nearly there.  I believe it is the biggest, most expensive project we’ve done and again in my opinion the best designed and managed project that we’ve ever done.  It was funded by a Denton County bond issue and Andy Eads and his staff provided full support.   Mayor Donnelly and his council, and Halff Associates, our Town Engineer, were key players in the design phase.  Mayor Pidcock, Mayor Pro-tem Garrett and current council were on top of the actual building of the road.  The Roads and Drainage Committee participated throughout. 

But most important was the day-by-day attention to detail by our Director of Public Works, Charlie Wright and Engineer Bryan Haynes.  The contractor was responsible for pouring the concrete and doing the labor.  No matter how good the supervision is, if the work is not good to begin with the project will be difficult.

It was a good project.  We’re a small town with much of the effort performed by volunteers.  Great job, guys.


Originally published in the February 2012 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette

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