Trey Yelverton, Arlington City Manager. Everyone who attended yesterday's meeting left as a better informed citizen after Arlington's City Manager, Trey Yelverton, spoke for over an hour about various City business. We received an updated status of the new active senior center which the City will cause to be constructed for use by Arlington's citizens aged 50+. Currently, ribbon cutting is expected to be in the 2021-2022 time frame. He specifically said that City Council can change the order of 46 capital projects currently on the City's "to do" list scheduled for completion at some future time (he handed out the list). He said the Ambassadors will definitely be invited to participate in deciding on amenities/interior design based on the budget available at the appropriate time. He said town halls will likely be held to be sure that our citizen's have an opportunity to give input. He said that the Ambassadors will want to pay special attention to the 2018 Capital Plan, usually presented to City Council in February (2018) because we will want to make sure that the funds for design and initial engineering work is slotted into the Capital Plan. In February 2019, the 2019 Capital Plan should have funds for architecture and more engineering and this is when money is actually allocated to the project. Construction could then start in 2020.
Mr. Yelverton said that the City is in discussion with a Houston senior housing developer who will likely be contracted to build a senior living complex adjacent to the new active senior center and it's possible (though not decided) that the operations of the new senior center could be outsourced to a third party, just like Arlington outsources it trash and ambulance services. Elva Roy asked whether it's possible that the City would direct the developer to build "affordable" apartments for seniors since there is such a dearth of available affordable senior housing in Arlington. He said "Sure, if that's the way Council wants to go." He asked the 50-ish members present how they feel about tax credit low-income apartments (no objection from the group); then he asked about Section 8 (groans). He said he would like to come back and explain more about Section 8 housing since he used to be Executive Director of the Arlington Housing Authority and has some expertise in that area. "Many people misunderstand Section 8 housing." Elva pointed out that while crime is an issue in some Section 8 apartments, that when a complex is "age qualified," that crime doesn't materialize because we "outgrow" being troublemakers and older people desire a quieter/gentler lifestyle than younger people sometimes want. Elva will definitely book Mr. Yelverton back as a speaker so we can all learn something we don't know today about "affordable housing." Maybe we can get a "panel" together to hear various perspectives for that meeting.
A decision has not yet been made about whether the City-owned land at the Pierce Burch property set aside for the new active senior center will be "sold" or "leased" to a developer/operator. Elva asked whether the City's Request for Proposal (RFP) would have to be amended and re-released since the original RFP only garnered two responses. It required a 50-year-lease after which time the land would revert to the City and it specifically said that "no changes can be made to the RFP" (e.g., a responder would have to agree to a 50-year-lease if they responded to the RFP and the City could "accept" the proposal exactly as submitted with no further negotiation if the City so chose). If a submitter had known that the City would, indeed, have considered a proposal for a land "sale" instead of "lease," perhaps the RFP would have been more competitive (and responders wouldn't have to worry about being non-compliant). Mr. Yelverton said he didn't think the RFP would be amended and re-released.
An engaged group of Ambassadors in the room had a litany of interests and Mr. Yelverton was kind enough to stay beyond his scheduled time to be sure that all of our questions were answered. Anthony Nagy shared some interesting statistics regarding the increase in Arlington's population of people 60+ and he asked Mr. Yelverton if the City is paying attention to the changing demographics and the aging population. Mr. Yelverton said that the City is aware, but then stated that Arlington is a "young" city. We know that's the image the Arlington would like to project for economic development (we all know that only the demographic of 25-34 counts) with our "entertainment district" but Elva said that Arlington can make our city a good place to live for all ages if we all work together instead of retiring to our stereotypical silos.
[Note: after the meeting, Elva sent a "thank you" email to Mr. Yelverton for his time yesterday and she asked for a meeting sometime in the next few weeks to discuss who the developer in Houston is, talk about convincing the City Council to require the developer of the senior living facility to be "affordable" for seniors and for Elva to make a 10-minute pitch about Universal Design Principles (UDP) to be required in new residential construction since Mr. Yelverton was not present when we made our initial pitch and he said he could use some education regarding UDP. Elva is waiting to hear back about a date for such a meeting.]
Peggy Masters, the Ambassadors' representative on the Mayor's Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), gave a 15-minute overview of the Committee's final recommendations as presented to the City Council on Sep 26. She explained the "corridors" within the City and how a ride-share service using vans or similar might be the mid-term solutions. The final report of the TAC is available at this link for any who care to read it in its entirety. http://www.arlington-tx.gov/tac
See you all in 2018 unless I run into you before then (maybe at the Oct. 26 meeting or someplace else). Peace Out.
Elva Roy is the Founder of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.