Proposed Adult Activity Center Update. Today, I met with Jim Parajon, Deputy City Manager for Economic Development and Capital Investment. I watched yesterday's afternoon City Council work session where the Mayor and Council heard an update from Lemuel Randolph, Director of Parks & Rec, on the new Adult Activity Center. I was disappointed to hear that it's entirely possible that the vote will be delayed again until May 2017. As you recall, we were hoping to see the referendum regarding funding for the new Center on the November 2015 ballot, then on the May 2016 ballot, then felt confident it was going to be on the November 2016 ballot, and now I expect that it's not going to make it onto the November 2016 ballot but will be pushed to May 2017. The reason is that the RFP for the commercial space surrounding the AAC won't be released until next week and the Council wants to see what kind of response/interest is generated by the RFP. (FYI, at Council, Charlie Parker spoke adamantly against another six-month delay). It's possible that it could still be on the November 2016 ballot, but in my opinion that's unlikely. The deadline for the Council's final decision to put it on the November ballot is August 22. The Council meets on August 2 and expects to make a decision then about when it will be on the ballot but if the RFP isn't released until the first week of July, that doesn't give very much time to receive responses in time for Council to make a decision on August 2. So we'll just have to wait and see. In defense of the delay, at the beginning of our conversation with the City about a new "active senior center," it was going to be only the Center, without consideration of a senior living community and wellness center (or other commercial space located on City-owned land). As you know, this commercial development through a public/private partnership will offset some of the capital and operating/maintenance costs, so it's important that the right developer be chosen. In the end, this is going to be a fabulous senior complex and so, in my opinion, while it's disappointing that we're looking at another possible six-month delay, it will be worth the wait to ensure that we get a beautiful senior complex on this site. We can be proud that it is going to happen, partially due to our advocacy efforts. I expect to have a copy of the RFP available at our July 11 meeting. I thought about asking for all of us to write our Council people asking for a November ballot, and we can talk about this further at our July 11 meeting. I need to hear from you about this.
Transportation. I learned from Jim that the Mayor has not yet appointed the Transportation Task Force that Mayor Williams mentioned when the Ambassadors' Action Team Leaders and I met in his office on January 4, 2016. He said he would appoint Peggy Masters, our Transportation Action Team Leader, to the Task Force. Jim confirmed today that Jim is going to either lead or be very involved in this Task Force when it is formed and he did confirm to me that Peggy Masters' name is on the list of prospective members.
Universal Design Principles. While I had Jim's ear today, I told him that on June 6 I met with John Dugan, Arlington's new Director of Community Development & Planning (the position that Jim Parajon held before he was promoted) just to educate John (and now Jim) about our desire to have builders design homes which are accessible and livable by people of any and all "abilities." We had quite a long discussion and we will keep talking about this. As I have explained in our meetings, UDP is a higher standard than "visitability standards" that we were asking for previously. We have work to do to get this done, but I believe it will happen eventually.
Take Me Home Program. I let Jim know about interest in the Take Me Home Program which was first funded by the Austism Society of America. I intend to visit with the Tarrant County Sheriff about the possibility of implementing the Take Me Home Program which enables a first responder who encounters an "enrolled" person who is unable to say their name/address, to know where to return the person to their home without delay. The Pensacola Police Department owns the Take Me Home software and makes it freely available to any law enforcement agency. Jim was very interested in this and intended to research it further on the web because he said that is and has been a problem in Arlington. I told him that Sgt. Jimmy Donahoe who runs the program for Pensacola is coming to Dallas in September to offer free training to any interested law enforcement agencies. Plano, McKinney, Waco, and other Texas cities have implemented it already. I'm hoping that Tarrant County will implement it "county-wide" (as San Diego County has done in California) but with the upcoming change in Sheriffs (Bill Wayborne will be replacing the current Sheriff, Dee Anderson, in January), the timing to request a new program is a bit uncertain at the County level.
Elva Roy is the Founder & Lead Ambassador of the all-volunteer group "Ambassadors For Aging Well" which meets in Arlington, Texas.