Paul Meltzer Immediately Gets to Work on Four Main Policy Goals
Denton's newest city council member, Paul Meltzer, is eager to work out his agenda for city council only a few weeks after his May 5th election win. His eagerness is palatable as The Dentonite discussed his campaign promises, fleshing out the details of his four main policy goals, and deciding how those goals will be utilized during this year's city council agenda.
His goals include: fixing the street maintenance backlog, providing emergency shelters for the homeless, the expedition of business permits for downtown businesses, and the sustainable development of downtown Denton, especially in regard to new development and the area waterways.
Catching up on the street maintenance backlog
According to Paul, the city is "currently working off a backlog of street repair projects funded four-to-six years ago. We’re playing catch-up while streets continue to deteriorate." To help alleviate the backlog and fund the street repairs in real-time, Paul has asked his staff to develop a plan to continuously keep up with maintenance so street repairs do not sit in disrepair for a significant period of time.
When probed for further details, Meltzer said that much of his plan is still on the drawing board, but every decision moving forward has to be based on best practices, especially in regards to financing these issues.
"I’ve had initial meetings with staff on the rough outlines of what such a master plan would look like. A portion of it can be covered by bonds. A portion of it can be justified by the savings the city will experience by doing maintenance that extends street life instead of road reconstruction. The idea is to hit each street with maintenance at 7-10 years of life before it falls into rapid degradation—but after any identifiable utility work."
Emergency shelters for the homeless
Meltzer quickly pointed out how his plan for dealing with street repairs held much in common with his plans for dealing with emergency shelters: thinking outside the box and focusing on best practices that can help citizens in the short-term as well as the long-term.
Meltzer said, "Right now the focus is on long term increasing the supply of affordable housing—which is a must. But between now and achieving that goal you have a situation where you have 659 people in need of emergency shelter and bed space for 22% of them (statistics according to 2018 Point-in-Time count by Denton County Homeless Coalition).*"
Meltzer would ask the council to shift certain resources from these affordable housing goals towards making sure we have emergency shelters in place by the winter time for our homeless citizens. One of his ideas includes looking at the Red Cross model for natural disasters and putting up emergency tents during freezing weather that are easily accessible and stowed away for later use. Meltzer's main emphasis is "to see what our options would be to not have anyone freeze to death this year."
Expediting business permits and sustainable development in downtown Denton
The last two policy goals are about the future of downtown Denton regarding its sustainable development especially with how new development will impact local waterways. The first issue is the expedition of new small businesses. He has instructed his staff to develop a study of how long the process takes to open a new business in Denton compared to nearby cities with similar infrastructure.
Meltzer said, "In the recent past I’ve had small business owners tell me they could get approvals in an hour in Carrollton by having all the representatives from all the relevant departments meet together, versus like ten weeks of back and forth here."
He is seeking this data simply as a case study in order to bring to the council innovative ways to develop small business culture that doesn't load unnecessary regulatory burdens and expensive taxes onto citizens.
How does this new business culture relate to his fourth goal of sustainable development?
Paul referenced PEC-4 (Pecan Creek Tributary 4 Drainage Improvements), which is an infrastructure plan already in the works. The main idea is first to put the creek (Cooper Creek and Pecan Creek Tributary) in the concrete channels into box culverts in order to control the flood plain. This makes a huge area ripe for future development. "turning that area where the creek will be essentially running underground into green space with safe off-road hike and bike paths, connecting nearby neighborhoods with downtown."
For more information on PEC-4, a 1996 regional drainage study is available online.