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Paris City Council Addresses PEDC and Downtown

city counciMayor Matt Frierson called Monday afternoon’s city council meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. After the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, local area residents were given the opportunity to address the Council in a citizen’s forum.

Mr. Chris Dukes, owner of a downtown property, addressed the Council regarding the relocation of a high voltage power line. With his property being one of a collection of downtown buildings considered part of the historic district that are in need of repairs, a high voltage line in front of the building stands as an impediment to improvements being made.

Mrs. Louise Hagood of Paris spoke to the Council about, “the disparagement of salaries between two of our principal services, that of Police Chief and Fire Chief.”

With no others addressing the Council in the citizen’s forum, Mr. Frierson moved to the Consent Agenda. Council Member Lancaster spoke to item #8 about a July drainage ditch report in her district as well as other districts. She raised concerns about drainage ditch maintenance in her distruct along with the accumulation of subsequent insects, animals, and abandoned refuse.

Council Member A.J. Hashmi addressed another item on the Consent Agenda; that of the report from the Paris Convention and Visitors Council. Mr. Hashmi raised concerns about the expense of the “remodeling of the upstairs of the Love Civic Center,” as the Convention and Visitors Council reported. He questioned the legality of the expense and requested clarification on the report. He went on to question the legality of the August 5th PEDC meeting where personnel matters were discussed as an agenda item. He noted that, “those personnel were never listed,” and he requested further clarification of the meeting.

After some discussion, Mr. Hashmi made a motion asked for by Mayor Frierson to move on to the Regular Agenda. All were in favor.

The Council then discussed plans to develop in coordination with First United Methodist Church, a new spray park in the parking lot immediately west of the church. City Manager John Godwin said of the park, “This will replace an existing parking lot there with a new parking lot about two-thirds of the area. The other third of the area will be a spray park with significant landscaping. The city will participate in that we hope to raise funds to build a public restroom.” The Council unanimously voted to approve the memorandum of understanding between the City of Paris and First United Methodist Church.

For item #15, downtown property owner, Richard Hunt addressed the City Council to ask for assistance with downtown electric power lines and possibly take action. After Mr. Hunt’s presentation, several possibilities were considered including putting utilities underground, grants for development, and discussion with ONCOR representatives. After discussion a motion made by Council Member Hashmi to table the issue passed unanimously.

The Council then decided on September 15th for a meeting with the PEDC and receiving a report from the PEDC Board of Directors regarding the recent forensic investigation.

The Council went on to discuss forwarding the results of the Defenbaugh investigation of the PEDC as it relates to the performance of the PEDC director to the Texas Attorney General and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for compliance with the Texas Economic Development Act. After several minutes of a spirited consideration of the agenda item, Council Member Hashmi made a motion to send the results immediately. The motion failed 3-4; Council Members Hashmi, Lancaster, and Jenkins voting for, and Mayor Frierson, and Council Members Grossnickle, Plata, and Pickle voting against.