Mayor Jerrell Baley has expressed “sincerest apologies” involving how the Texas 66 project discussions were handled, but his letter did not address the 68-second Sept. 3 special meeting that came to an end without a motion and vote.
Baley said he believes he allowed sufficient time for a motion to be made on the issue — the preferred route that a widened and realigned Texas 66 would take through Royse City.. The mayor added that he “felt ahead of time” that a motion would not be made.”
After Baley called for a motion “on one of the 11 choices we have to make,” he waited 10 seconds and did not hear a motion.
“OK,” he said. “There’s no action on this. Meeting adjourned.
“It felt like at eternity to me,” Baley responded when asked if he felt 10 seconds was sufficient time for a motion to be made.
City Councilman Tom Crowley said council members did not know in advance what the meeting procedures would be and that the mayor would call for a vote immediately. Crowley said he or some other council member should have called for “point of order for clarification on what was on the table.”
But no council member responded and in 10 seconds the meeting was over.
The mayor left the Mellody Room immediately. The stunned city council members remained in their seats.
Crowley said he believes further clarification was needed because city council members had not received a formal briefing on the outcome of a Texas 66 meeting that involved a committee of 10 residents. The city councilman added that he believes that a motion would have been made.
Following is the mayor’s letter:
“I want to express my sincerest apologies on how the State Highway 66 project discussions were handled. Hundreds of items are presented to the council throughout the year for action; I should have immediately realized that this was not a routine item and I should have directed staff and council to seek more citizen input from the beginning. We believed, incorrectly as it turns out, that TxDOT was taking the lead on notification since it was ultimately their project for which they were seeking council input.
“While I recognize that we did an inadequate job of involving all interested parties from the beginning, I do dispute allegations that we intentionally hid this matter from the public. The initial meetings were published in accordance with law, and we immediately rescinded our initial recommendation when a number of citizens approached council members asking us to consider other alternatives. We formed a committee involving a cross-section of community members. This committee made a recommendation for Burton Street, which while it appeased certain people, angered others. Instead of immediately acting on that recommendation, we set another public workshop to act on the matter.
“Part of our responsibility as a council is to plan for the future. Traffic is an issue now, and it will continue to get worse as the area grows. Construction costs for highway projects are skyrocketing. The current Erby Campbell overpass will cost in excess of $20,000,000. The City cannot cover these costs itself and must work with the counties, state, and federal government to fund these projects. These projects are planned years in advance. Planning for the current Erby Campbell project began in 2002. The State Highway 66 project couplet is not expected to begin until around 2030. I understand any decision is going to be disliked by some; however, if we do not do anything, even more people will be negatively affected in years to come
“I invite everyone to join committees, attend council meetings, speak with staff, and participate in the deliberation process; this is the best way to ensure your opinions are considered. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem disappears because it will not. This matter will come up again, when I don’t know. With the growth we are experiencing in this area, traffic issues on State Highway 66 will continue to deteriorate; when this matter re-appears, if I am still Mayor, I promise that we will inform the public in a more effective manner before any decisions are made.
“Again, I accept responsibility for not completely informing everyone present of all pertinent information. It was my job to do so and in that I failed. I am available most anytime to discuss this with anyone. You may contact me through email at email@example.com or by telephone. I’m in the directory and always have been.”