Laurie McGee’s anxiety over flooding has steadily increased since the Twin Creeks subdivision was built off Newt Patterson Road north of her property.
Just a one-inch rain sends her pond over its banks, making it impossible to reach her back pasture.
Now, the 15-acre field immediately adjacent to hers is slated for 36 more houses, raising new concerns about flooding in this once rural area of northwest Mansfield.
“That’s where all the water’s going to go on my property,” McGee told the City Council Monday. “We didn’t have this problem when I moved here.”
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The council approved the Queensgate zoning change unanimously on first reading but urged the developer, Bloomfield Homes, to work with the concerned residents before the second of three votes on Feb. 12. Councilman Terry Moore was absent.
Flooding has been the chief issue for this project since it was first proposed a year and a half ago. It’s been working through Federal Emergency Management Agency approval for more than 12 months. The FEMA process is nearly complete, which prompted the developer to proceed with the project.
Don Dykstra, president of Bloomfield Homes, said he’s confident in the flood study.
“We’re not saying that there’s not water that goes on those adjacent properties,” Dykstra said. “The study proves that it won’t increase.”
The new houses will sell for between $300,000 to $500,000, Dykstra said.
If the project is approved, he said he anticipates construction starting this summer.
Mansfield’s credit rating gets a boost
Standard & Poor’s gave Mansfield a rare AAA rating on its general obligation bonds, potentially saving the city money on future debt issuance.
A city’s bond rating is like a personal credit score, the better the rating, more credit worthy the city and lower interest rate it can get when it sells debt.
“Mansfield’s GO bonds are eligible to be rated above the sovereign, because we believe the city can maintain better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress situation,” S&P wrote in their report to the city.
The ratings agency cited Mansfield’s strong economy, financial policies and liquidity.
“Mansfield continues to experience significant retail development with more than 2.97 million square feet of shopping centers under development with projected annual sales of $594.6 million and [ad valorem] of $421.1 million,” S&P said.
In addition, Fitch Ratings upgraded the rating for Mansfield’s water/sewer system to AA+.
Shops at Broad update
A large component of the retail growth S&P refers to includes the Shops at Broad mixed-use project proposed at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287. Work has stalled on the 80-acre project in recent months.
City Manager Clayton Chandler provided an update at the Monday meeting, saying city officials have met with the developer, Geyer Morris, recently.
He said the developer is waiting on drainage pipes to be delivered so the “real construction can start.” The developer plans to deliver the project components on time. The StarCenter is on schedule to be delivered to the Dallas Stars by July 1 so it can open in August or September, Chandler said. That includes parking lots and roads around the StarCenter.
All the equipment has been ordered for the dual ice rink except the Zambonis, Chandler said.
Two bridges could be replaced
Flooding sometimes forces Mansfield to North Street and Walnut Creek Drive at the Walnut Creek crossing, a source of frustration and potential safety issue.
Both existing bridges are in marginal condition and need to be replaced with new, elevated bridges in the near future, according to city officials.
The council hired Freese and Nichols Inc. for $250,000 to conduct an engineering and flooding study for the creek crossings.
The engineers will consider a new alignment for North Street near the creek and the railroad tracks. The road approaches the creek at an odd angle in its current alignment. The study also involves flood modeling and meeting with the Union Pacific.
For the more heavily traveled Walnut Creek Drive bridge, the city is considering replacing the bridge and elevating the road in that area. That will be tricky though, because Magnolia Street and the entrance to Katherine Rose Memorial Park are in that same area. Raising the road would mean redoing those intersections, too.
New parks headquarters moves forward
The city has picked a contractor to build the new parks and recreation headquarters at the Oliver Nature Park on Matlock Road.
The council hired Muckleroy and Falls, based in Fort Worth, to build the facility at a cost of $2.48 million. The facility will have room for 20 employees, a community meeting room, two conference rooms, restrooms, a break room and storage space. When completed, the city’s park staff will be able to move out of their existing office on Smith Street. The former volunteer fire station sits on prime land for the city’s redevelopment of downtown and will likely be sold and demolished.
The city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau will also move into the new office on Matlock Road.
Trail work progressing in downtown
Mansfield has made some changes to the Pond Branch Linear Park as the trail nears completion.
The council approved two change orders totaling $302,753 for the contractor, Klutz Construction. The changes include adding retaining walls, handrails, fencing and weathered steel walls for future public art.
The 107-foot retaining wall is critically important because of ongoing erosion near the Heritage Baptist Church parking lot, located north of East Broad Street.
The North Main Street Trail on both sides of North Main Street is also progressing. When completed, the trail will connect downtown to Town Park, the Walnut Creek Linear Park and the Main Street Lofts.
The council amended the contract with Graham and Associates for another $45,840.50 to include the additional design work.
That brings the total cost to $219,840.50.