Council again closes parks, except for trail

Apr. 07, 2020 Forney City Council virtually considered annexation of 201 acres, electric trams for light show and the Disaster Declaration.
During its regular (virtual) Apr. 07, 2020 meeting, the Forney City Council met to approve annexation of 201 acres, purchase electric trams for Christmas light show, not renew the Disaster Declaration and re-close all city parks, except for walking trail at Community Park.
(watch official video)

  • Mayor Penn read a Proclamation for Chief Rick Townsend on his retirement, after 44 years of public service, declaring Friday April 10 as Rick and Nancy Townsend day.
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • a petition for annexation from Royse World Land LP and approval of a Resolution setting the date, time and place for a public hearing on a proposed annexation of certain property consisting of a 93.14 acre tract (KCAD Property ID 12976) and a 108.624 acre tract (KCAD Property ID 10892) owned by Royse World Land, LP.
          Documents show the properties are on either side of Helms Trail, SW of Hwy 80, "north" and "east" of Plantation Ridge and Helms.
    • a Resolution approving the purchase through TXMAS cooperative purchasing electric trams and related equipment and authorizing the City Manager to take all necessary action.
          Documents show the cost is $127,132 and "the Christmas project is funded in the amount of $600,000."

  • Discussed the City's Declaration of State of Disaster and Public Health Emergency and related orders of the City of Forney pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
        Mr. Thatcher said council adopted the declaration at last emergency meeting; Governor's office issued an executive order, very similar to what city did  On April 2 Mayor Penn amended city order to comply with Governor's order  He doesn't believe staff has any additions to what governor's order is, which is effectively a shelter-at-home order, with exemptions for essential service and religious services  
        Mayor Penn said the Governor has changed things on the parks, will they be closing the parks again? Mr. Thatcher said the order would allow them control, but defined essential activity as using parks  Today the state closed all state parks due to large gatherings  Council could direct staff to manage city facilities  Mayor Penn previously had concern about basketball courts, and playgrounds, as apparently parents haven't been wise  She would like to shutdown the playground, maybe the whole park  
        Ms. Powers said it's important for people to walk, helps to de-escalate, would prefer to leave the park open for walking and exercise  Mr. Johnson said walking trails are ok, everything else should not be used, he suspects many people in the park are not from Forney  Mr. Myers said it's difficult to close just playgrounds, would prefer to close the whole park - there are trails in other parts of Forney  Part of social distancing is touching things  
        The meeting lost its feed for a while  Mr. Thomas said Ms. Powers preference weigh heavy, as she's dealing with people, is on the front line  There are a lot of people at the big box stores, more there at any one time than would be in the park  He's undecided   Mr. Cooper is also split on the issue - playground equipment isn't sanitized, people should use common sense, trails should be open  
        Chief Lunt said the PD is next to the park, they went through and patrolled it each day, encouraging social distancing  They can enforce closing all but the trails  They can remind folks to achieve social distancing  Mr. Thomas asked how many people have returned to park - not a lot, mostly the trails  They did disable the basketball goals  Ms. Powers asked if swings were disabled - no, playgrounds have not been cordoned off, no signs  Mr. Myers said he talked to Mr. Carson and Kyle who said it's not easy to close off just the playground; if there's a good way to close those off, ok with leaving trails open  Mr. Thomas suggested closing the park, barricade the walking trail from the park  Mr. Cooper suggested putting yellow tape around playgrounds  Mayor Penn said things change daily, people are confused  Need to get a clear message out to the public  She thought people would have common sense about the playgrounds, but they haven't  If Chief Lunt says it will work, she's ok with leaving trails open.
        Mr. Thatcher agreed things change daily, governor said parks are essential, but must follow CDC guidelines  Mr. Carson said staff needs clear direction; he went to the park for about an hour  There are pocket parks that they can't control  There's no way to tape off the playground  They are putting up signs about social distancing on Friday  If it isn't barricaded, there will be people on the playground equipment  Mr. Thomas asked if could close all parks but Community trail open  Mr. Carson said yes, if they access via Holly Leaf  Mr. Myers said people might not see the signs at entrance that park is closed  Mr. Cooper said parking on Holly Leaf will be a problem  Mr. Myers said if they tell people the park is closed and someone goes in, it's on them  Mr. Johnson said Holly Leaf is wider than most streets, can park on both sides  Ms. Powers said if it's too difficult for PD to do, can close the park  Mayor Penn asked Mr. Carson if staff could close all but the trails; Mr. Carson said yes, left barricades at entrance, should post signs at pocket parks  
        Mr. Thomas asked if governor's order affects city hall situation; Mr. Thatcher said they can control that  Businesses seeking exceptions must contact the state now  Mr. Myers asked about religious gatherings being limited to 10; Mr. Thatcher said all religious and worship services had to offer online features  The Governor's order encouraged video services, but allowed congregating by CDC guidelines  All cities and counties have struggled with balancing the issues.
        Approved allowing city shelter-in-place order to expire, therefore relying on latest executive order by Governor Abbot, but "all our community parks will now be closed except for the walking trails at the Forney Community Park only."
  • Public Comment - none
  • City Manager's report - wished Chief T. a good retirement.
  • Council Comments - Mr. Thomas wished Chief T. well, but should pray for Nancy when Rick is at home - He's done a very commendable job for the city  He encouraged people to continue social distancing, this is the new normal  Mr. Myers said Chief Townsend is one of nicest people he met  Ms. Powers thanked staff for setting up the meeting, she's know Chief Townsend a long time, retirement is well deserved  Every day is something new, adhere to social distancing and hand-washing, if exhibit symptoms, stay away from others  Domestic violence and child abuse are on the rise  Mr. Cooper said Chief should enjoy retirement  people should use common sense, wash often  Mr. Johnson said Chief Townsend was a great person to transition from volunteer to paid FD, and Nancy was creating a honey-do list  If people use common sense, can get over this quicker, it takes everyone  Mayor Penn said her kids played with Chief Townsend kids, has a beautiful singing voice and makes great jams  She thanked first responders and front-liners  She thanked citizens for letting them know what's going on (such as playgrounds), they are doing the best they can for the community.
  • Adjourned at 1926
Tuesday, 2020, April 7