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Mouton proclaims state of the city as fantastic

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in News

125logo smallIN NEWS
Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton proclaimed Deer Park’s financial and overall situation to be fantastic at last week’s State of the City address. During the annual presentation, Mouton and council members gave citizens an overview of last year’s projects and this year’s goals. screen grab.With a AAA financial rating and the ongoing completion of infrastructure and quality of life improvements throughout the city, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton said State of Deer Park is “fantastic.” He made the proclamation at last week’s Deer Park Chamber of Commerce State of the City Luncheon. As is mayoral tradition, Mouton dedicated the address to an individual for their dedication to the Deer Park community. This year's address was dedicated retiring City Secretary Sandra Watkins.

“We had a whole lot going on, and this year, celebrating our 125th (anniversary) it’s nice to look back on where we have been and have a plan on where we are going,” Mouton said. “For sure, 2017 is going to be a big year. Without a doubt, the city has never been in a stronger foundation than it is today and the state of the city is absolutely fantastic.”

City council members and city department heads discussed the progress of city projects an initiatives.

Councilmen Ron Martin and Tommy Ginn discussed goals and projects completed during the two years since the city implemented its strategic plan.

“Many goals that were outlined in the 2014 plan have been accomplished and the others are about to be finished,” Ginn said.

Martin said the goals aligned with the city’s vision of delivering exemplary services, providing a great quality of life and remembering the city’s history.

The strategic plan has five areas of emphasis: governance and leadership, quality of life and image, comprehensive planning, economic development and public safety.

The city classifies completed projects and those in their final stages as gold medal; silver is used for significant progress; and bronze medals are used for projects that are on schedule and are underway.

Under the strategic plan, the city outlined 47 goals, of which 28 are gold medal, four are silver and six are bronze. Martin said the goals included the renewal of the crime and fire control and prevention and emergency services districts, the hiring of a public relations and marketing specialist and met with Deer Park ISD.

For quality of life goals, the city implemented its parks, recreation and green space master plan, began seven Type B projects and moved forward on the Deer Park Nature Preserve and the city’s wayfinding signs project.

In the area of comprehensive planning, the city issued $16 million in certificates of obligation and completed the sixth year of a 10-year water and capital improvement project. The city also completed updates to its comprehensive plan, subdivision ordinance and zoning ordinance.

“That is the first time since the 1960s that we have made critical changes to those documents,” Martin said.

Under economic development, the city landed the Junction at Deer Park development and has additional development areas through its first Chapter 380 Economic Development and Incentive Agreement.

The city also strengthened its hotel/motel tax allocation process to better use the tax funds.

Mouton thanked voters for extending the crime and fire districts an additional 10 years.

“It has played a huge role to strengthen and expand one of the critical roles of local government and that is public safety,” he said.

Councilmembers Sherry Garrison and Bill Patterson along with Police Chief Greg Grigg and Fire Chief Don Davis presented the city’s public safety updates.

Grigg thanked the voters again for extending the crime control and prevention district.

“With those funds we’ll be able to fund additional personnel, vehicles, equipment and technology,” he said. “There’s not a time in life that’s more challenging, and you’re the recipient of the resources of the fire and police departments.”

Grigg called the department’s gun range and training facility the biggest benefit from the district. It should open later this year.

The department is also using CCPD funds to implement a proactive investigations unit that specifically goes after violent offenders, property offenders and drug dealers. DPPD is also using district funds to maintain its membership in the OSSI database, which allows member departments to share and access crime activity and investigations.

Davis said the fire department used fire control and prevention and emergency management district funds to replace aging fire trucks and ambulances, added additional paramedics, personal protective equipment, thermal imaging cameras, life saving devices and improved cardiac monitoring equipment.

Mouton also announced the groundbreaking of the new city hall facility and the upcoming groundbreaking of the Deer Park Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. He called the two new facilities investments.

“It’s important that when you invest in these projects that you be in a good, strong financial position,” he said. “We have continued a long lineage of strong financial practices and management. In the last two years, Deer Park has managed to be upgraded to a AAA rating,” he said. “It puts us in a very, very strong position so that when we issue bonds, we do so at a very low interest rates and reduce the capital outlay.”

The city of Deer Park is one of 24 cities of 1,216 in the state of Texas that has a AAA rating, putting the city in the top 2.8 percent. Mouton thanked past mayors and council and current council members for their dedication to paving a strong financial foundation for the city.

During the video the public works department announced the completion of the Phase I Waste Water Treatment Plant expansion project, including a new headworks and UV light structure at a cost of $6.2 million.

Phase II is set to begin this month at a cost of $16.29 million. Public works also completed Year 6 of a seven-year outreach participation agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for sanitary sewer overflow; sidewalks and handicapped access points to 15 streets in the city; two detention pond projects and 8,300 linear feet of waterline across three projects.

Mouton also applauded the city’s sanitation department for its efforts to keeping the city clean. Ben Alexander, sanitation director, said the city’s transfer station is known as the cleanest in the state.

“On any given evening a person can go through the station and never know there was 91 tons of garbage that actually came through our doors,” he said.

Alexander said the department takes pride in assisting citizens with any help they need.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Swigert discussed his department’s projects, highlighting the implementation of the wayfinding and parks signage systems and the beginning nature preserve project.

Two of the monument-style park signs are installed at Wynfield and Runningbrook parks and two more will be installed at College Park and Terrace Park. The first wayfinding sign has been installed on Georgia Avenue, just south of Thirteenth Street.

“You would be surprised how many people come into our city. The signs will direct visitors in our community. There are even some residents who have been here their whole lives who don’t know the name of their parks and facilities we have,” Swigert said.

Swigert called the Deer Park Nature Preserve, formerly known as the Deer Park Wetlands, a diamond in the rough in the community.

“One of the things we are excited about is the trail on the outside perimeter where patrons can visit grasslands, wetlands and woodlands,” he said.

The presentation also featured an update on some Type B projects, including the Dow Park Pavilions project from Swigert and councilmembers Rae Sinor and Thane Harrison.

“The current pavilion will be replaced with a new facility containing a staging area and a new family restroom. Across Dow Park, taking the place of the current restroom facility, also known as the ‘roundhouse,’ will be a three-sectioned pavilion with a dance floor, stage and seating areas,” Swigert said.

Construction will begin this month and dedication in June.

The design phase of the expansion of the Maxwell Center and parking lot is almost complete. The city is hopeful to begin construction of that project and that of girls’ softball facility and soccer fields this summer.

The planning of the city’s hike and bike trails is also set to begin this year, he said.

The state of the city presentation also included a video highlighting the Deer Park Public Library’s resources, including Overdrive, an app and digital service where patrons can check out e-books.

Mouton closed by thanking all of the city’s regional partners for working together to make life better in the city’s east end. The entire address is available on the city's website by clicking here.