Tag Archives: Princeton City Hall

Changes sprout in my absence

Holy smokes, man! I take off for a month, return to my Princeton home and see with my own eyes that the city has changed.

Maybe I need to get out more … you know?

For starters, the city street department has completed work on a Beauchamp Boulevard lane, giving motorists more direct access to Myrick Lane just south of my house.

Then I noticed that the city installed stop signs at the corner of Lowe Elementary School. It’s an “all-way” stop directive for motorists. To be blunt, this is something that likely should have been done four years ago when the school opened its doors to welcome the children, many of whom walk to school and then back home at the end of the day.

Whatever. It’s done and I’m glad about that.

More commercial development is occurring next to the major market near my house. I have put out a request from my go-to guy at City Hall — City Manager Derek Borg — asking what’s being built.

When I drove to my house Saturday afternoon, I noticed even more residences have sprouted like spring flowers south of my abode. Yikes! The growth continues.

What I discovered upon my return home is that it’s pretty cool to live in a city that is undergoing massive and rapid change and then to see the ongoing results of that change when one is away for some time.

Yes, you can count me as one American who is not at all averse to change. I welcome change to a community. A city that doesn’t change is a city that stagnates.

Princeton is not stagnating.


Streets torn to shreds

Derek Borg is a man of his word. When he says the city plans to do something big, he means it … and then some!

The Princeton (Texas) city manager told me a couple of years ago about plans afoot to reconfigure streets in the middle of the city. It took some time to assemble the strategy, I reckon.

But … oh, brother the city has embarked on a reconstruction project that will be a thing of beauty when it’s done.

The city is tearing part of Yorkshire Drive at the Veterans Park near the old police station. Second Street is being torn up and will be rebuilt from scratch. The city has detour signs posted everywhere.

However, there’s good news to report even as construction proceeds: the signs make sense! Occasionally, you encounter detour signs that seek to guide motorists around the construction, but they aren’t delineated clearly. The Princeton project guides motorists around the work sites easily.

I know because I had to wind my way through all the street work today en route to running an errand.

The work needs to be done. The quality of many city streets, to say the very least, is um, unacceptable.

Borg promised me two years ago that the finished project would make us all happy. Given that he’s been good on his word on the construction that has commenced, I’ll accept his pledge that a better day for Princeton residents lies ahead.


Municipal complex promotes transparency

Princeton’s new municipal complex has lost its “new building” smell after being occupied by the Texas city’s administrative staff for a year.

However, it remains something of an architectural marvel … at least to my eyes.

I have had occasion to visit with senior city staff in recent weeks. I have met with City Manager Derek Borg and some of his administrative officials in rooms designed — in the words of Borg and Mayor Brianna Chacon — to promote governmental transparency.

How does it do that? They have installed lots of glass that otherwise could be walled off from public view.

I recently met with Borg in a conference room next to the city’s development office. As he and I visited, I could see people walking back and forth; most of them were staffers, but I noticed those I presumed to be just plain folks … like me. Therein was the reason, as Borg and Chacon explained it, for installing all that glass in this building.

It certainly provides a spacious working environment for Princeton’s staff. The structure brings the police and fire departments under the same roof as the city administrative staff.

It also does — in its subtle way — give the impression of a transparent operation. Anyone walking into the building can peer through the windows and watch those who work for the public at work on their behalf. I realize it’s mainly symbolic, but the transparent symbolism is important, too.

I find it refreshing, even as I am doing my job as a reporter trying to get information from the various officials who work for my neighbors and me.


Say ‘no’ to this gasoline ban

I am not generally inclined to protest local government’s desire to make our lives more tolerable, but Dallas City Council is pondering an issue that goes too far in ensuring such comfort.

The city is considering a ban on all gasoline-powered lawn equipment. Yep, you can’t fire up the lawnmower or the leaf blower after 2030 if the council proceeds with this effort.

The Dallas Morning News editorial board has spoken already on this nutty notion and the paper makes a lot of sense in saying the council might be reaching way beyond its grasp.

The Morning News said in an editorial published the other day: Promoters of the ban will point to climate change and air quality as harmful, but the council presentation last month included no evidence that is true.

One element of this idea does make sense. The city, according to the DMN, ought to ban contract landscapers from using this equipment if it sees fit. No problem with that. However, if Mr. or Ms. Homeowner wants to use a gas-powered lawnmower and leaf blower to gussy up their yard, they should be allowed to do so.

Granted, I don’t live in Dallas. I live a bit north of Big D in Princeton. I kind of fear that that the city fathers and mothers here might get an idea to follow Dallas’s lead.

Don’t go there, Princeton City Hall.


This ‘gift’ will benefit us

In case you’ve missed, they’ve been turning over some dirt along Beauchamp Blvd. We noticed the back side of the sign on the side of the street, so I looked at the other side to see the message.

It will be an 8.5-acre park, complete with a splash pad, playground equipment, walking paths and plenty of parking for those visiting the park.

The way I see it, this development — which is slated to be done by the spring of 2023 — only boosts our homes’ value. Not that it matters to my wife and me, as our home will be ours, um, forever.

Land for the park came as a gift to Princeton from the family of JJ (Book) Wilson, for whom the park will be named. Think of how cool that is, with the city receiving land as a gift, allowing the city to spend its money (our money, truth be told) on a tangible benefit for the city it serves.

Park space and green space is a marvelous use of that land.

We are thrilled in our house to see this park on its way, as it is within easy walking distance from our home.

It’s just another reason to make us glad we settled in Princeton.


Hoping for a quiet Fourth

We live in a North Texas city that prohibits fireworks from being detonated within the city limits.

Indeed, Princeton City Hall has made an extra effort this year to get the word out that the Fourth of July celebration must not include fireworks within the city’s corporate boundary.

So, here comes the question: How does the Princeton Police Department enforce that rule? 

Independence Day is coming. Am I expecting a sleepless night listening to fireworks exploding all over the damn place? Yes, I fear that will happen. It will occur because the Princeton PD is unable to arrest or cite every single violator out there.

Which I guess brings me to the point of wondering why have an ordinance that cities cannot enforce effectively?

I know that Princeton isn’t the only city in America that has such a rule on the books. Indeed, I suspect most cities have them, which means that fireworks celebrations are limited to unincorporated areas way out in the country.

In our part of the world, the country isn’t so far away. Still, I am going to lament what I expect will happen in our neighborhood that sits in the middle of a growing city in Collin County, Texas. We’re going to hear bombs bursting in air and watching the rockets’ red glare.

The last time I posted something complaining about the noise associated with these celebrations, I got called out for being a sorehead. Well, I guess I’ll have to expect it once again by wishing there was a way for our PD to enforce a citywide rule.

Still, I want to wish the United States of America a happy Fourth of July birthday. I’m going to do so quietly.


Moving day at City Hall

Princeton City Hall is about to pack up and move to a new location down the road a bit.

It figures to be a proverbial cakewalk, according to City Manager Derek Borg, who once told me he has been through this already and, thus, he expects a relatively smooth transition from the cramped quarters that City Hall occupies into a vastly more spacious and modern complex east along U.S. Highway 380.

Moving day actually will occur over the span of two days, Jan. 27 and 28, city officials announced recently. There will be a grand opening set for March 11. Mayor Brianna Chacon wants to have it during students’ spring break to ensure that residents can be available to attend and relish what the city will unveil to the public.

It’s a huge deal.

The city spent $20 million to build the municipal complex on donated land on the north side of the highway. It’s a fabulous array of office space, comprising about eight times the space the city now uses. Borg told me the new complex will bring virtually all municipal government departments under one roof.

The complex will feature plenty of glass, lots of windows as a symbolic statement of the “transparency” the city hopes to convey to the public. Future plans call for plenty of green space, retail space and an entertainment venue for residents to enjoy, according to the city manager.

But … first things first.

I don’t think Derek Borg is predicting a hiccup-free move. However, he will take on whatever challenges arise with joyful determination that once everyone settles in, they will be able to provide top-flight municipal service to the residents who are footing the bill.

Good luck to you all.


New digs in sight!

I took the liberty a little while ago to send a message to Princeton (Texas) City Manager Derek Borg, asking when the city will move its operations into the “new digs” it is building east of where the current city hall operates.

He responded with a single word: “February!!!”

The multiple exclamation points suggest that Borg is quite excited about what lies ahead for his staff, the city council and the public that comes to city hall to conduct its business.

The city financed construction of the new municipal complex through certificates of obligation. An architect drew up plans for the building being erected on donated land just east of Princeton High School. All told, the project costs around $20 million.

Mayor Brianna Chacon told me a while back she had hoped to put a Christmas tree on the site. I guess those plans went away.

I drive by the site frequently and I am impressed with the finishing work that is now underway. The city deserves to present its taxpaying residents with a structure worthy of a growing community … and Princeton is growing — rapidly!

Borg told me the new complex will give employees about seven or eight times more room to operate. They have erected a “For Sale or Lease” sign in front of the soon-to-be-vacated city hall.

The city manager isn’t intimidated by the pending move. He told me he managed the move into the current site. This next move will bring plenty of smiles … when it’s all done.


Local government responds

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is time to offer a word of thanks and gratitude for the folks who push and pull the levers at Princeton (Texas) City Hall.

My wife and I received our most recent water bill from the city. It showed a significant decline from the previous months. I looked at the bill closely and couldn’t find a readily identifiable reason for the decline.

So … I called the utility billing office at City Hall this morning. I asked a nice lady named Glenda, “Why is my water bill down so significantly from the previous month?” She responded, “The city gave everyone in Princeton a $30 credit on their water bill.”

She didn’t need to explain. The city water system went down for a couple of days during that terrible snow/ice storm that pummeled North Texas for the first half of February. The water treatment plant was powered by the electrical grid that damn near collapsed.

Fortunately, the city got the plant running after two days. The pressure took time to build and the city issued a boil-water advisory, which stayed in effect for three or four more days after service was restored.

“So, this credit was a sort of courtesy that the city extended to us. Is that right?” I asked. Glenda said yes.

Princeton is still a pretty small town, but one that is turning rapidly into a much larger town. Its census is likely to triple from the 2010 count of 6,807 residents when the Census Bureau releases the 2020 count soon. Its water is administered by the North Texas Municipal Water District.

I just feel the overwhelming need to call attention to the “courtesy” that the city and the NTMWD extended to us here. We endured a short-lived, but still miserable, period of time during that winter storm.

I am one red-blooded Texas taxpayer who is grateful that local government officials demonstrated some old-fashioned common decency in helping us recover from it.

Discovering a curious city council policy

I have just attended my first City Council meeting in Princeton, Texas, where I noticed a curious quirk in the council’s makeup and voting policy.

The Princeton City Council comprises five council members and the mayor. That means there are six individuals on the governing board.

However, as the council was marching through its agenda, Mayor John-Mark Caldwell would call for a vote, asking council members to raise their hands if they approved a measure. Five hands went up; the mayor didn’t vote.

Hmm. I believe that is the first such governing body I’ve seen up close that (a) comprises an even number of officials and (b) doesn’t require the presiding officer, the mayor, to cast a vote.

Governing bodies usually are made up of odd-numbered officials, whether it’s five, seven or nine. The Amarillo City Council comprises five members, including the mayor. The Collin County Commissioners Court comprises an odd number of county commissioners. Why is the odd number the norm? Simple: it prevents tie votes when all members are present.

I used to cover a county commission in Oregon that was made up of just three commissioners. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners functioned pretty well — most of the time — with just the bare minimum of commissioners needed to enact county policy.

In Princeton, where the mayor doesn’t vote on matters, policy decisions are made by an odd number of council members. The mayor is the ringmaster, who isn’t required to enter his vote into the public record.

I’m going to talk to city officials in the morning about an issue the council considered this evening. I need to find out more about this curious policy.

I’ll let you know what I learn.