Thursday, October 29, 2020

Be The Bridge Comes Home to Southlake

A poignant milestone was reached today on the North White Chapel and Highland Street roundabout. The Be The Bridge public art piece is now in place.

“It’s an emotional day,” said Mayor Laura Hill. “In the middle of all of this uncertainty, to have this beautiful sculpture take it rightful place in the heart of our City just feels good.”

Picture artist unloading art

Artist Boris Kramer helps install Be The Bridge.

Artist Boris Kramer sculpted Be The Bridge. It is composed of several different metals, including stainless steel, bronze, copper, and brass. It is 16 feet wide by nearly 17 feet tall.

According to Mr. Kramer, each of the figures feature a curve in space to make the figures appear to be in motion. Also, when viewed from above, the sculpture looks like an “S.”

He also stated in a narrative given to the City, “The bridge is intentionally left with a gap in the middle to represent the challenges that exist in our society due to our differences.  The bridges in our lives do not always connect.  The children dancing on the bridge are able to “jump over” the challenges by working together, holding hands, and simply playing together.”

“I am so excited for people to enjoy it,” Mayor Hill added. “Especially now, this sculpture tells Southlake’s story. The artist constructed a gorgeous piece of art.”

The piece is the latest addition to Southlake’s Public Art collection.  For a virtual tour and art locations, please visit www.ExperienceSouthlakeTexas.com/PublicArt.

Be the Bridge during installation.

 

2020 Census is Coming to Southlake

How much has Southlake grown since 2010? We’ll find out this year as the US Census Bureau tabulates the information it receives from every city across the US, including Southlake.

Every ten years, the United States conducts a massive count of all its citizens. For most citizens, the count doesn’t start until mid-March with a mailed invitation to complete the Census. The exception is the most remote parts of Alaska, where the count began January 21.

2020 Census picture linking reader to sample questionnaire

Click the picture for a sample 2020 Census Questionnaire.

According to the Census Bureau, the “results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year. The results [also] determine how many congressional seats each state receives.”

The Census effort is years in the making. The confidential and anonymous citizen responses are accepted online and by phone, as well as through the mail. The 2020 Census field staff are responsible for verifying addresses and gathering information about where people live.

“We know that people may have questions about census field workers who will be in Southlake neighborhoods starting in April,” said Deputy Director of Public Relations, Pilar Schank. “There are three ways to identify Census staff. They will have a laptop computer with a census logo on it, a black canvas bag that also has a logo, and most importantly, they will have a photo ID card.”

Schank added that Southlake Police Officers are aware of these guidelines as well and will be working with citizens in case they have questions. Depending on the number of responses, the workers could be in neighborhoods as late as July.

“Based on our 2010 numbers, the Southlake Census Bureau is predicting a very high response rate for Southlake, said Schank. “We’d like to match or exceed that rate in this Census.”

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit the 2020Census.gov website. To learn more about Southlake’s efforts in support of the Census, click here: www.CityofSouthlake.com/2020Census.

Roundabout at N. White Chapel and Highland on Track to Open Before School Starts

The end of summer is upon us and that means back to the school year routine. It also means the morning commute is about to pick up again. For many that commute will remain unchanged, however, N. White Chapel drivers will have a new addition to their route. Despite a heavy rainy season, construction crews are still on track to open the new roundabout at N. White Chapel and Highland before the start of school. While the ultimate configuration will be dual lane, it will temporarily function as a single lane while the median work is completed.

The roundabout is just one part of the two phase N. White Chapel widening project. In the past weeks, crews have been working on the west leg of the roundabout. About half of the concrete work has been completed in anticipation for the asphalt work that is expected to start next week, weather permitting.

“The spring rain did unfortunately cause us to have to rearrange our schedule a bit, but our contractor was able to work around it to keep the project moving forward,” noted City Engineer and Deputy Director of Public Works Kyle Hogue. “We’re looking forward to having the roundabout open and traffic flowing on east and west Highland again.”

While the roundabout is a major component of the first phase of the widening project, crews have also been working on widening N. White Chapel between Highland and SH 114. In the last week, work has been started on the new median near the SH 114 intersection.

Once completed, the final stages of the project will include striping of the new traffic lanes, new sidewalks, landscaping and the installation of public art in the roundabout. Construction on this phase of the project is expected to finish up this fall with utility work on the second phase of project starting as well. Phase 2 is the widening of N. White Chapel from Emerald to Highland.

New lane configuration is on the horizon for the intersection of N. White Chapel and SH 114. Crews also plan to have one lane northbound and one lane southbound open for the intersection prior to school starting as well. Again the interior lanes will remain closed until all median work is complete. As always, drivers are reminded to use extra caution when driving through the construction zone, travel at or below the posted speed limit and keep an eye out for construction workers in the area.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, follow Southlake Mobility on Facebook for all the up-to-date mobility news in Southlake. You can also visit the website at www.ConnectSouthlake.com and sign up for the Mobility Newsletter.

Major Traffic Switch Coming with N. White Chapel Widening Project

Thanks to heavy spring rain, the timeline for the N. White Chapel widening project may have shifted, but progress has remained steady. The next major milestone for this project is to shift the Highland road closure to the west side of the intersection.

Crews are anticipating closing W. Highland at N. White Chapel, weather permitting, Monday, June 24 to complete the west side of the roundabout. This traffic switch will happen after the morning rush. As the completion of the east side of the roundabout is wrapped up this week, crews will be shifting attention to the other half. The closure includes the west side of the Highland and N. White Chapel intersection and about 500 feet of Highland leading up to the intersection.

In addition to the change in closures, this move will also result in the removal of the traffic signal at Highland and N. White Chapel. The signal will no longer be needed and will be disabled prior to this next phase. This means north and southbound traffic will flow freely through the intersection. There will be no east and westbound traffic through the intersection until the roundabout opens. Vehicles will not be able to turn west onto Highland from N. White Chapel.

Before the west side of the intersection is closed, the east side of the intersection will be partially reopened. Remember, the traffic flow from E. Highland will be different in preparation for the new roundabout traffic flow; E. Highland traffic will only be able to turn northbound onto N. White Chapel. That traffic will have a stop sign before entering N. White Chapel. North and southbound cross traffic will not stop, so drivers will need to heed extra caution before getting on N. White Chapel.

The work is expected to be completed before the start of the school year.

“This milestone puts us one step closer to a completed roundabout,” notes City Engineer and Deputy Director of Public Works Kyle Hogue. “I’d like to reiterate the importance of drivers proceeding with caution and traveling at or below the posted speed limit as they drive through the intersection. With the signal no longer being needed and disabled, that’s one more reason for drivers to pay extra close attention in this area. Also, remember as crews work toward the next phase to bring the two sections together the temporary transitions or ‘hump’ will remain in the intersection.”

Want to stay updated on this project? Follow Southlake Mobility on Facebook for all the up-to-date mobility news in Southlake. You can also visit the website at www.ConnectSouthlake.com.

City of Southlake Wins PRSA Silver Anvil Award

The City of Southlake is the recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil Award for the Most Effective Campaign $5,000 Or Less, Government.

“I am so proud of Southlake DPS and the City for their amazing efforts,” said Southlake Mayor Laura Hill.  “They have taken a humorous yet effective approach to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work, and drive in Southlake. I love how they went about it.”

In early 2018, the Police Department set a goal to “Humanize the Badge” and to eliminate the “cop talk” that often tended to be formal and uninviting.

What replaced it?  A fun, pop culture driven social media strategy that would help cement the public’s trust with a nationally accredited Police Department that protects, is compassionate, and engages with the people they serve.

“The innovative and unconventional approach took a leap of faith,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “But we felt the risk was worth it to get important messages to the public in a form they could digest and enjoy.”

“We had a good following on the Southlake DPS Facebook accounts,” said Police Chief James Brandon.  “But with our change in strategy, we saw a 285% increase in Facebook followers, which was important to achieving a crowdsourcing approach to ensuring safety and security.”

As the following grew, the posts focused on three main areas: sound police management practices and protocols, the officers’ professional training, and their relationship-building activities.  But make no mistake, the approach was anything but ordinary.

People started noticing after a Facebook and Twitter post called “GURL CALL ME.”

The post was a “letter” written to a woman suspected of identity theft. The letter was much more than the usual, “we are looking for this criminal” narrative, as it used emojis and “teen girl talk” to give facts about the case and also signed off with the now infamous phrase GURL CALL ME. With this post, the Southlake DPS Facebook page saw its following double in less than 24 hours, reaching more than 3.1 million people and 1.7 million engagements.

The person behind the video, memes, and fun writing is Officer Brad Uptmore. His Baylor University film degree along with 12 and half years of police experience, was put to work to make the strategy come alive. Since that first viral post, Uptmore has created more than several dozens of videos including the popular Pumpkin Spice Citations video and the Use Your JAR JAR BLINKER when driving on Star Wars Day video.  He’s also created dozens of memes including the long-standing joke/reminder to drive 30mph on Randol Mill since it’s a road construction zone.  But despite the light-hearted demeanor, Officer Uptmore is all business when it comes to safety and security.

“It is such a privilege to do this job,” said Officer Uptmore. “Chief Brandon’s willingness to let me try different ideas to help people be safe and make safe choices as well as get to know our officers? It’s a win-win!”

Since 1944, PRSA has awarded Silver Anvil Awards annually to organizations around the world for outstanding strategic public relations programs. According to the PRSA website, judges look for programs or campaigns “that incorporate sound insights and analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation. They must meet the highest standards of performance in the profession.”

The Silver Anvil Award for the Most Effective Campaign $5,000 Or Less, Government is the City of Southlake’s first PRSA Silver Anvil Award.

Want the Low Down on White Chapel? Here it is.

Behind the 30 mph speed limit on Randol Mill Avenue, all the action on White Chapel Boulevard comes in a close second to one of the most talked about roadways in Southlake.

White Chapel has had its fair share of activity in the past months, some planned and some not.  At the most recent City Council meeting, March 19, 2019, addressing the past, present and future Public Works Director Rob Cohen provided an update on everything White Chapel.

The past.

The Kirkwood Branch Culvert Crossing on N. White Chapel, near Bob Jones Park, has been repaired and the road is open again! Fall of 2018 was not kind to the culvert crossing, in September the roadway was damaged by flood waters causing the closure of the road. The City responded quickly and by October, an emergency repair was declared. By the end of November, the contractor was in place and repair work was underway. Despite a rainy couple of months, crews completed the repair work in early March. By March 11, a newly repaired safer crossing was open, once again opening a main thoroughfare in the north end of Southlake.

The present.

The North White Chapel widening project is moving along, pretty much right on schedule. Remember this is a two-phase project. The first phase is the widening from Highland to SH 114 and includes a new dual-lane roundabout at the intersection of Highland and N. White Chapel. Phase two will widen N. White Chapel from Emerald to Highland.

Since starting on phase 1 in spring of 2018, contractors have moved a lot of dirt and made great progress! Utilities have been relocated, drains have been built, and new roadway has been paved. If you’ve been following along with progress on Facebook with Southlake Mobility, you’ve seen that the roundabout is starting to take shape. With about 60 percent of the work completed there are a few major milestones to be on the lookout for in the coming months. In order to complete the roundabout, there will be two main closures on Highland this summer. The first one will be the east side of the intersection, and once that work is completed crews will close the west side of the intersection. Although getting through Highland will be more difficult during the closures, mobility will be maintained along N. White Chapel.

Director Cohen also mentioned a recent traffic control plan revision along the westbound SH114 frontage road at the request of TxDOT. Previously, traffic on the westbound frontage road turning under the overpass to access N. White Chapel had to merge underneath the overpass. Now the inside left turn lane has been closed down so all of the left turning traffic under the overpass will be consolidated to one lane before the traffic light.

Bids for phase two of the project are currently under review. While there is no roundabout work with this phase of the project, it will bring a much needed wider roadway in front of the high school. The plan is to award a bid in the next few months and getting utility relocation started.

Director Cohen also noted an emphasis on sharing information about the project. “As with phase one of the project, our goal is to communicate as much as we can,” said Cohen. “We know that while construction is ongoing, it will make traveling on N. White Chapel a little more cumbersome. I’d really like to encourage people to follow the Southlake Mobility Facebook page. We plan to be aggressive with the information we share. And if people enjoy seeing the progress pictures and videos we post, all the better.”

The future.

Construction is shifting south on White Chapel in 2020. Initiated by TxDOT, the bridge that connects Pleasant Run in Colleyville to White Chapel in Southlake, will be completely rebuilt. The Cities of Southlake and Colleyville will partner with TxDOT to help complete the project.

Repair work on the bridge was completed in 2015. TxDOT, Southlake and Colleyville also worked together at the time. The work included removing sand and rocks from around the bridge supports and addressed channel erosion around the base of the bridge.

As of now, the replacement project is scheduled to start in early 2020 and be completed by late 2020 or early 2021. While planning is still in progress, early plans include a new sidewalk on the new bridge. As the project gets closed to starting, we will share more information about the traffic changes that will come from the project.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, follow Southlake Mobility on Facebook for all the up-to-date mobility news in Southlake. You can also visit the website at www.ConnectSouthlake.com.

Southlake’s Safety Team Aims to Improve City Practices & Reduce Workplace Risk

Southlake’s Safety Committee members were honored recently with a City Manager Commendation for their commitment to excellent safety practices and their role in promoting a culture of safety for the municipal organization.

When Southlake’s Human Resources Director Stacey Black learned that on-the-job injuries with medical costs or lost time decreased by 25% over the previous fiscal year, it made her smile. She believes this success is due, at least in part, to the efforts of the City’s hardworking Safety Committee. The group is an interdepartmental team whose mission is to keep employees and the public safe through mindful business practices aimed at reducing risk.

“A few years ago we saw a need to be a little more intentional with our safety practices,” said Black. “In fact, we set a goal of creating a strong culture of safety so that our employees return home at the end of the day or their shift in the same condition they arrived.”

Following an organizational safety audit, the team was formed and put into place under the leadership of employees Chad Minter and Tim Slifka.

“We value the well-being of our employees and the public we serve, and this guides our work,” explained Minter. “Last year we arranged for more than 900 hours of civilian safety training for various workgroups, and have worked since the beginning to create workplace practices that prevent accidents. We make a difference because we proactively focus attention on safety, and take corrective steps when needed.”

The team has worked to:

  • implement vehicle speed monitoring and alerts,
  • understand workplace injuries and how to prevent them,
  • evaluate City vehicle accidents for operational improvements,
  • reduce building safety hazards within City facilities,
  • purchase safety materials and equipment,
  • learn more about best practices for staying safe,
  • put procedures in place to improve workplace safety.

City Manager Shana Yelverton has the highest praise for the performance of the team. “Their importance and effectiveness can’t be overstated,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what outcomes are achieved over time.”

For their strategic and committed work, each member of the Safety Committee has received a formal commendation, and thank you. Above photo from left to right: top row, Mike White, W. Wood, Ryan Arthur, and Tim Slifka. Middle row, Ryan McGrail, Robert Burns, Chad Minter, and Eric Lusk. Bottom row, Shane Cloud, Terry Holloway, and Andrew Merrick.

City Reports on Capital Improvement Projects

The city’s Capital Improvement Projects are well underway! Public Works Director Rob Cohen presented an update on the program at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 2. The capital improvement program includes the anticipated capital project costs for the next five fiscal years. As part of the FY2019 budget, the CIP is on track to improve in the following areas:

Mobility

In the last year, Matthews Court, the Kirkwood Boulevard widening and intersection improvements, and paving projects of Continental and N. Peytonville Avenue were successfully completed.

Improvements to reduce traffic congestion on SH 114 Frontage Road continues as the city has partnered with TxDOT. The widening of N. White Chapel from Highland to SH 114 is also still in progress.

Construction on the Zena Rucker Road extension advances to accommodate future development of commercial and residential properties.  The bid to connect Nolen Drive in Southlake to Nolen Drive in Grapevine is set to take place the first quarter of FY2019.

The City also anticipates completing the enhancements to intersection of FM 1938 and FM 1709 by the second quarter of FY2019.

Sewer, Utility, Water Projects

The city continues to make improvements to the water system by taking the necessary steps to develop solutions to maintain water quality.

A sewer line protection study was conducted to develop a proactive plan to protect our sanitary sewer facilities from threats of erosion and discharges of wastewater.

Several measures to maintain efficient waste and water systems have been taken such as, an installation of a water line, Torian Lift station, water mixers installed in elevated water tanks, painting and repairs to ground storage tanks and sewer line improvements for Commerce/Market Loop and Summerplace Road intersection.

The City is working on the installation of an N-1 metering station (measures wastewater flow to the TRA treatment plant) and the installation of a water line for fuel farm fire protection.  Other water line improvements include Union Church Road, North Pearson Road and Whispering Dell Lane/Court.  Repairs for the ground storage reservoir are also underway.

Storm water

The Zena Road box culvert at Matthews’s Court has been completed.  Drainage improvements have been made at Summerplace Road. “We do have funds to address and the evaluate some of the drainage basins that will allow us to have more impressive CIP projects to improve our drainage capacity,” said Cohen during his presentation.

The design for improvement on Florence Road will be completed this year. A bid for weir repair on Patterson Road is set to take place in the First Quarter of FY2019.

For more information on projects, events and milestones, please visit the city website

You can watch the council presentation here.

Finding Esme Author to Visit Southlake Library

Kids can meet author Suzanne Crowley when she visits the Library to talk about her new kids’ book, Finding Esme.

Do you want to meet an excellently fun author? Even better, how about crafting with her and having some yummy snacks? Local Southlake author, Suzanne Crowley, released her latest book, Finding Esme, in August and she’s coming to the Library on October 8 at 2 p.m. to talk about her book and being a writer. Kids who attend will also receive a free copy of Finding Esme. How cool is that?

This program is open for registration for kids ages 8-12 years. You can register online now and be sure to save your seat. Register now.

More about Finding Esme:

After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.