Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Around Argyle – July 2022

On July 4th, 246 years ago, the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence and changed the course of history. Happy Birthday to the United States of America! I wish everyone an enjoyable and safe celebration of the founding of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!

Thank You, Rich Olson

Rich Olson

In the summer of 2020, Rich Olson became Argyle’s Town Administrator. He inherited a huge challenge.

The Waterbrook Public Improvement District (PID) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) had been neglected since their formation in 2017 and the town did not have an agreement in place with the developer of the Waterbrook project. Nor had the town put oversight boards in place as required by state law for the special purpose entities. Required annual audits of the special purpose entities had not been done as required.

A developer was pressuring the town with a proposal to build a distribution center on land south of FM 407.

Argyle voters were being asked to approve the formation of a Municipal Development District (MDD) in the November 2020 general election and the work of developing a charter for the new political subdivision and getting it up and running was just ahead.

Argyle government was operating with no regular reporting to citizens on the decisions taken and significant events in the governance of the town. The town’s website and internet broadcasts of meetings were of poor quality, frustrating citizens who demanded that the town be more transparent and that real time information on the workings of government be made available.

Argyle’s road construction and maintenance program was plagued by weak oversight and was captive to bidders selected only on the basis of price whose performance had long represented a waste of taxpayer dollars. The Crawford Road project was looming, and its success was vital to the town considering the amount of money the town, Denton County, and the City of Denton had contributed to the most expensive road building effort ever undertaken in Argyle.

Rich Olson overcame the difficult set of circumstances and a backlog of overdue actions that were in place when he was hired and delivered a long list of achievements for the town during his time as town administrator, including:

Maintaining a controlled growth philosophy by working with developers and property owners and sending the message that Argyle citizens would not approve additional high-density residential development;

Successfully encouraging developers to take advantage of voluntary Program for Argyle Citizen Engagement (PACE) meetings to give citizens an opportunity to learn about proposed developments and to have their say prior to the submission of projects to the town;

Management of the successful Crawford Road, Harpole Road, South Gibbons Road, and Charyl Lynn Drive projects, leaving Argyle roads in their best condition in decades;

Negotiation of the Argyle Landing Development Agreement, which prevented the creation of a warehouse/distribution center development on FM 407;

Overseeing the successful issuance of over $5 million in Certificates of Obligation for street and sewer improvements at rates highly favorable to the town and at the same time improving the town’s net financial position every year;

Negotiation of an Interlocal Agreement with Denton County for the cost-sharing of the improvements to Stonecrest Road and overseeing the bidding and award of the construction contracts for Stonecrest Road, C. Taylor Road and Hickory Hill Road;

Working toward a regional approach to pooling resources and influence with our neighboring jurisdictions to fund road improvements in the future, including TxDOT’s recently announced FM 407 Breakout Project, which will relieve congestion at I-35W within the next two years. He also pressed forward with coordination between the town, TxDOT and the Union Pacific Railroad to implement railway crossing quiet zones concurrently with improvements to US 377;

Rich also worked with the MDD Board to get the new organization up and running and changed the way Argyle acts to encourage economic growth;

Rich hired a full-time communications coordinator. Our first employee in the position, Julia Falcon, upgraded every aspect of how the town provides information to the citizens from internet meeting broadcast quality to an improved website, among many other actions to promote the transparency of the town government;

Finally, Rich faithfully reported the work done on behalf of the citizens every week via his FYI letters. Many were grateful for the time and energy Rich put into his week progress reports.

Rich Olson is in my view the single most effective and successful public servant who has served Argyle in its history. The citizens of Argyle owe him a debt of gratitude and I wish him well.

Former town assistant administrator and secretary Erika McComis has been appointed to take Rich’s place and to serve as town secretary on an interim basis while the town searches for permanent hires in the two positions. Please join me in welcoming Erika back to Argyle and encouraging her as she takes on her new responsibilities.

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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