March 2012

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Interview with Manvel City Manager Kyle Jung

AISD Demographic Report

Jung reports on upcoming projects to council

Manvel Council News

 

Interview with Manvel City Manager Kyle Jung

March 7, 2012

Kyle Jung assumed the city manager position on January 17 after surviving a rather thorough search process conducted by the former interim city manager Ron Cox.  After six weeks in the position, Jung reflected on his time this far and on what he sees for the future of Manvel.

Jung was born and raised in Dallas.  He attended the University of St Thomas in Houston where he earned his degree and met his wife, Ashley.  After a couple of years residing in Houston, Jung and Ashley moved to Lubbock where each attended Texas Tech University earning master’s degrees.  Kyle’s was in Public Administration and Ashley’s was in Higher Education.

He took a position as city manager with a small city named Sour Lake, about fifteen miles west of Beaumont where he served for nearly four years.  He then took a position with the Texas Municipal League where he specifically dealt with the City Managers Association.  The League is a state-wide association of city managers with about 900 members.  He spent over twelve years with the League where he says he met lots of good people from all across the state.

He also has done contract work with various cities and most recently served as the interim city manager for Flatonia, Texas for six months before accepting the job here in Manvel.

Jung’s family, Ashley and two children, aged 6 and 4, continue to reside in Austin.  Kyle spends his weeks working in Manvel and his weekends with his family.  He does expect his family to join him here after the school year is complete.

Jung explained that there is significant growth coming from the Houston area and he sees Manvel following Pearland in getting a good portion of that progression.  Since his appointment to city manager, he has had meetings with five residential developers that are very interested in the area.  The developer’s feel the housing stock envisioned for the area is on target with market need; they see the demand coming and are not hesitant about moving forward.

He described the recent ground breaking of the Lakeland development behind Manvel High School as expecting to have lots available for sale to builders later this year.  He said the drainage work is ongoing with the road, water, and sewer infrastructure to follow.  The SouthFork development is pulling between four and eight housing permits each month and will be building in Sedona Lakes as they begin their second phase of construction.

He met recently with the developers of the Meridiana master planned community, formerly known as Seven Oaks, and revealed that their interest has not waned in the least though economic conditions have obviously slowed the pace of the project.

Jung posits that there will certainly be lots more people in the next five to ten years if these developments do come to pass.  Sections of the city will become much more densely populated than they are now.  The city needs to prepare for the increased traffic increased development will bring and Jung feels the city’s Comprehensive Plan provides for thoroughfares that help to alleviate the kinds of traffic bottlenecks currently experienced in the rapidly expanding areas of west Pearland.  While acknowledging that traffic cannot be reduced to nothing, he explained that the city’s plan calls for as many thoroughfares as possible to move the traffic so the high congestion areas are minimized.

A major concern Jung sees is the current requirement to gain access to Hwy 288 from Hwy 1128, currently requiring travel either via Hwy 6 to the south or Bailey Road to the north.  Once the planned thoroughfares are put through, he explains, it will not only help traffic flow but also advance public safety by improving response times from emergency service providers.

He describes the desire for retail development as “the chicken and egg” problem.  Retailers need houses and houses need retailers, so he sees them being developed concurrently as the new developments come on stream.

He likes the city’s decision, as cast by voters last year, to allocate a portion of the sales tax revenue to a dedicated fund for road repairs.  He reminded that those funds are in addition to the city’s annually budgeted amounts and he anticipates the fund to generate approximately $150,000 each year to be used for maintenance of city streets.  He considers a big benefit the fact that the city’s primary roads, State highways 288 and 6, and county road 1128 are not maintenance requirements of the city as they are either state or county sustained.  He also sees additional road improvements as the planned developments require certain infrastructure be put in place.

In light of city council’s recent rejection of AISD’s request for a variance on right-of-way footage for their new elementary school to be built on CR 59 at Kirby, and with other sometimes contentious negotiations in recent years, Jung indicates his desire to work with the school district as “we are all serving the same people”.  He went on to say that he hopes both entities can work together to find amicable solutions for everything that needs to be done.  “That is what we are here for”, he said.

Jung explained that the development side of the city’s administration is well advanced as council along with the PD&Z and various consultants have done a very good job.  Internal structures such as personnel policies and other internal management practices are taking a fair amount of his time presently as he is looking at all the city’s services to see if there are areas of improvement that can be had.  He wants to see how the city compares to others in processes, evaluations, salary structure, employee benefits, among other issues. 

Going forward to wants to ensure the Comprehensive Plan, the Capital Improvement Plan, and an impact fee study are all incorporated into future budgets so that they become a priority of council.  He says there are many things to look at in an effort to improve efficiency in what the city does and how it delivers services to its citizens. 

Jung says he has been warmly received by the city and likes being here.  He expresses excitement with the new job and considers it a “good group of people both on the council and the staff”.  He says lots of people have come in to just say hello and he encourages more citizens to do so and share concerns or problems they may have.  “If we don’t know about problems we can’t correct them”, he said.

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AISD Demographic Report

March 14, 2012

The Alvin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees received its regular bi-annual report from Bob Templeton of Templeton Demographics at their March meeting.  According to Superintendent Fred Brent, the firm is relied on heavily by the district in planning for future needs.

The report was mostly upbeat with Templeton explaining that they are beginning to see some real optimism returning in terms of the economy.  He went on to say that Texas continues to be the strongest state in the country in terms of job growth.  From December 2010 through December 2011, the state added 204,500 jobs.  In fact, he said, Texas has created one job for every four jobs created nationally.  Houston is the number one city in the nation for job growth with an annual growth of 87,900 jobs added to the city’s employment.  Templeton related the growth to the energy boom going on in Texas and predicts Houston will hold the top spot for several quarters to come.

The state’s unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate.  While the national rate has dropped to 8.3%, Texas is at 7.2%.  Brazoria County is at 8.4%, and the Houston MSA is at 7.3%.  The nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is seeing growth with the end of year rate at 1.6%.  Texas saw a GDP growth of 2.4%.

Texas also enjoys four of the top national cities in terms of new home construction permits.  AISD is ranked tenth in the Houston area for new home permits with 673 annual starts as projected from the 4th quarter of 2011.  The city of Alvin has issued 46 permits year-to-date in the current school district fiscal year while Manvel issued 148 through year end 2011.

The Lakeland residential development just north of Manvel High School has recently broken ground on 194 acres which will result in approximately 660 single family homes.  The occupying of homes should be realized within two years.

Top areas for new home construction are on the west side of the district and served by three elementary school zones: Jeter, Wilder, and York.  District wide, Templeton reported 139 homes under construction, 224 homes in the completed but vacant category, 2,074 vacant developed lots with homes expected to be constructed within two years, and 7,891 future lots with homes expected to be constructed more than two years out.  He also noted a multi-family complex with 639 units projected in the York Elementary zone that recently broke ground.

Subdivisions in the western part of the district accounted for more than 80% of all home closings as of the 4th quarter of 2011: Southern Trails, Southfork, Sedona Lakes, and Shadow Creek Ranch.  As a result, future enrollment pressure will be felt most heavily in those areas.

Since 2006, AISD has added 3,971 new students, an average enrollment growth of 5%.  2006-07 saw an enrollment of 14,254 students; 2011-12 saw an enrollment of 18,225 students.  AISD is in position to add over 4,028 students by the year 2016 and go above 20,000 total enrollments in the school year 2014-15.

Templeton pointed out that the largest grade is kindergarten, explaining that even if no new homes are constructed, just the advancement of those kindergartners will cause significant growth.  He reported that elementary growth was 353 students last year, which projects to an equivalent of about one new elementary school every two years.  His projections call for five new elementary schools to be added over the next ten years and another five or six in the fifteen years subsequent to that.

The Junior High level projects a new facility every three to four years.  Templeton’s projections call for two additional JH’s over the next ten years and another three JH’s in the subsequent fifteen years.  The High School level, which will accelerate as the larger younger grades progress each year, should see a need for an additional facility by the year 2016-17.  Another High School will be needed in the subsequent fifteen years and Templeton did not rule out the likelihood that the district could ultimately become a five High School district within the coming 25-years.

Templeton’s future projections are based on an average housing start of 750 homes each year.  If that number should increase, which is certainly a possibility, the projected facility requirements would increase.

In closing his report, Templeton acknowledged that we are not out of the woods on the economic recovery but expressed his view that we are closer to the end than we were a few years ago and feels some optimism for economic growth and population trends across Texas.  He sees the housing market beginning an improvement in the latter half of 2012 with traction gaining a more firm hold in 2013-2014.

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Jung reports on upcoming projects to council

March 21, 2012

Manvel city manager Kyle Jung briefed council members on development projects in the city limits and the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).  Jung wanted council to be aware of projects on the horizon and discussed developments that are either underway or being talked about.  The information was requested by the city’s Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) because, as Jung explained, “there are so many things within the realm of possibility”.  Many of the projects are in the pre-development stage where developers may have come in to inquire about permitting or to have a discussion with city personnel about the possibility of developing a piece of property.

Jung explained that the city was losing track of some of the information and he thought to prepare a list that could be periodically updated.  Many of the projects will likely not transpire, but the list will serve as a starting point to help keep council members up to date.

Projects currently underway include Rodeo Palms at state hwy 288 and CR 58.  In addition to what is currently in place, two new sections have been proposed with 112 residential lots.  A new section with 450 acres is also under consideration.  The new AISD Junior High School is scheduled to open for the next school year this August.

Sedona Lakes, at state hwy 288 and CR 101, is almost complete with Phase 1 with more than 100 homes built.  Phase 2 infrastructure plans have been submitted and construction is anticipated to begin on the 189 lots in the spring of 2012.

Other developments in progress include Manvel Meadows on Lewis Lane adjacent to EC Mason Elementary School.  The development consists of 10 acres that will be divided into five 2 acre lots.  Southfork at Kirby Drive and CR 59 has two sections containing 256 lots under construction.  Lakeland on North McCoy Road behind Manvel High School has drainage and infrastructure work on-going.  Finished lots are slated for construction in the fall of 2012.  Phase One will contain 195 lots with the eventual total on the 365 acre development consisting of 649 lots.

Commercially, under permitting review with construction expected to begin in April, is an O’Reilly Auto Parts store that will contain 7,000 square feet and will be located on state hwy 6 just east of the Kwik Kar and Dollar General stores.

A wide variety of projects in the pre-development stage include additional residential plans, several multi-use schemes that including both commercial and residential features, a funeral home, two senior living communities, a private school, a family practice doctor’s office, a 276,500 square foot apartment complex, and a new AISD elementary school.

In other council news, Police Chief Ralph Garcia reported that the remodel work on the police station has been completed and announced that it did come in on budget.  He said it looks “fabulous” and invited members to stop by and take a look.  He commented that it is a “night and day comparison” to what it was like previously.  The chief intends to have an open house sometime in early May to coincide with Police Week.  The general public will be invited to inspect the renovated station and meet the city’s officers and support staff.

Member Mack Ivy suggested that council start to look forward to the day when the current station is insufficient to meet the city’s needs and include it in future planning and budget negotiations.  Current thought is that the station will have a useful life of five years, more or less, depending on growth.  City Manager Jung explained that it will be included in the city’s five year capital improvement plan and will be a part of future budget discussions.

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Manvel Council News

March 28, 2012

Manvel city council this week approved the preliminary plat for the Alvin Independent School District’s (AISD) 15th elementary school to be located in the city’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) on County Road 59 and Kirby Drive.  The property borders the north edge of the SouthFork subdivision and will serve students in the persistently growing western portion of the district.  There is no official word on the project’s expected ground breaking, but according to recent demographic reports received by the district the school will be needed as soon as the 2013-2014 school year.

Council also entertained the first of two readings for two public hearings.  One hearing was to seek citizen input and comment on the renewing of an ordinance establishing a curfew for persons under the age of 17 years between the hours of 10:30 PM and 6:00 AM on Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01 AM and 6:00 AM on Friday and Saturday.  The law does not allow for any person subject to the curfew to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city of Manvel during curfew hours.

Police chief Ralph Garcia explained that the curfew has been on the books for years and that it is rarely needed to be enforced.  He described it as a tool for law enforcement should young people congregate and loiter with no apparent purpose.  He responded to a question from member Mack Ivy on why the age is under 17 being due to the fact that a 17-year old is considered an adult in the state of Texas and can be arrested without having to involve the juvenile authorities in the process.

A second hearing was to seek public input and comment on an ordinance that amends the subdivision ordinance to specify the minimum right-of-way widths for streets in the city and it’s ETJ.  The ordinance serves to standardize the requirement of a minimum 60 foot width on streets developed within a subdivision.  The ordinance applies only to new construction and does not affect currently working streets.

Both hearings require a second reading to invite public comment before they become law and will conduct those hearings at the next council meeting scheduled for April 9.

Council also tabled a request by property owners Eddie Wisnoski and Johnny Lowe on the abandonment of Gilbough Street east from FM 1128 to Russel Street.  Wisnoski and Lowe made the case that the road is unlikely to be required for future city needs as it dead-ends into a drainage ditch and that all current property owners will see no effect on access to their properties.  They want to acquire the property at fair market value from the city to be able to expand their businesses at that location.  Mayor Martin responded that it is hard to predict future needs and the city must take care to maintain its options and not indiscriminately abandon city owned easements.  Council agreed by a 4-3 vote to table the matter so that additional inquiry can be made and for the city attorney to draft a proposed policy for the city to follow in such property abandonment requests.  It is expected that council will revisit the request at the April 9 council meeting.

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