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Council action postponed on FCNP request for funds
The Coppell City Council will not vote until late next month on whether to grant a request from the Friends of Coppell Nature Park (FCNP) for $709,000 in order to begin construction on a $1.7 million biodiversity center.
At the conclusion of a lengthy discussion on the subject at a Jan. 8 workshop, City Manager Clay Phillips said the request would be on the Jan. 22 city council agenda. However, the following morning, members of the FCNP requested that a vote on the proposal be delayed until late February.
One of the biggest concerns expressed at the workshop was whether many of the promised in kind donations, none of which were in writing, are still being offered.
Lou Duggan, FCNP executive director, said Wednesday morning, “To honor the council's request for more detailed information about donation status and costs, we have asked the city to place us on their agenda in late February. Some of these donation commitments were received a year ago. So, being sensitive to the life cycle of such donations, we expect a council decision at that time. If we receive a favorable decision we are prepared to move forward very quickly. Construction time is estimated to be six to eight months."
Duggan added, “"After our work session with the council, we met with our architect and general contractors for another hour. In lieu of our current price quotes we decided to take formal bids for the job. In this manner we can nail down all donations, services, materials, and labor. The architect is focusing his staff onto this effort and will provide specific construction plans to the general contractor.”
He further said, “The general contractor will distribute these plans to each subcontractor for his work, donation, or service. In this manner the actual value of donated services, materials, and labor can be appraised as well as actual ‘paid’ work. This should provide a current and re-affirmed funding number that the council is needing. This process involves 25 to 30 contractors and will take weeks.”
During the workshop, Place 2 Councilman Bob Mahalik and Place 6 Councilman Marvin Franklin of Place 6 expressed support for approving the FCNP request for funds, while Place 5 Councilman Billy Faught, Place 7 Councilman Aaron Duncan and Mayor Pro Tem Tim Brancheau indicated they wanted it to be decided by the people with a possible bond election in November.
Mayor Karen Hunt also expressed support for the approval of the request.
After the meeting, Roden said, “This issue is still being deliberated by the city council and therefore I will not make a final decision until all of the debate has occurred.”
Councilman Aaron Duncan commented, “I think this is a great project and I appreciate the efforts of the Friends of Coppell Nature Park with everything they have done to date. Although this is a great project, we have many needs and requests for continuation or additional programs, expanded facilities, etc., throughout our city. At this time I am not convinced that spending this additional $709,000 and the associated commitment to the ongoing maintenance costs, etc., is our highest and best use of $709,000. I would recommend that the prioritization of this project, compared to the other potential projects in the City, be left to the voters.”
He added, “I would encourage our citizens to voice their opinions on this matter.”
Wes Mays, Place 3 council member, said, “Fundamentally, I believe that the nature park is a very good idea and must give credit to the FCNP for the work they've done. I'm particularity impressed with the proposed net zero aspect of the building. As an engineer by profession, this has piqued my professional interest as well as an interest for the good of the community.”
He added, “Mr. Duggan, of FCNP, demonstrated his solar system installed at his residence to me and he continues to express his satisfaction with the system. However, as I expressed at the work session, I have concerns over the funding and administration of the park. As a result, we have more work to do before I can make a decision.”
He concluded, “We have several options that are being worked on by the city and by FCNP. The council will be meeting on Jan 29 in a work session to discuss budgetary matters and I expect that this will be on the agenda. I will defer my opinions until after all the funding options have been explored.”
Duggan’s final comments were:
“No organization in Coppell has ever attempted what we are doing for the city. We are starting our 10th year of volunteer support for a nature park created by kids. None of us are paid, running for office, building resumes, looking for jobs, or seeking rewards for this community service. In the final analysis, I always ask myself if we are truly performing a service for our community. And, I keep coming back to the hundreds of youth and adults who have donated thousands of hours to create the park, plus saved their nickels and dimes to be in The Coppell 300 so we can complete the vision our youth fostered in 2003. We are touching lives and they have touched ours.”