On Tuesday evening the Forney City Council finally provided its citizens with a tool which can be used to see and hear how their elected officials conduct themselves as they administer the business of the city.
The first Swagit Productions episode of a live council meeting is currently available on the city’s website, and it’s absolutely thrilling to finally arrive at a point where the citizens of this community can see for themselves how their elected officials behave.
Hopefully all the claims of lies, mistruths and exaggerations of the facts will cease as residents become accustomed to using the new online system to monitor and critique the ongoing issues, projects, plans and politics of their city council.
Three directional cameras have been installed in the council chamber. And because more than half of the seating room is now dedicated to staff personnel, many citizens attending Monday night’s meeting were forced to stand throughout the two-hour meeting, while others simply gave in and sat down on the floor.
After first hearing from about a dozen residents opposing the building of multi-family units, Mayor Rick Wilson opened the floor to discussion on Action Item # 7 – “Discussion regarding the ordinances, agreements and regulations related to the Gateway Development and the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 1 with the City of Forney”.
Clearly siding with the Forney taxpayer, Mayor Wilson said “This agreement last until 2038. Right now, we’re looking at somewhere around 40 million dollars. Upwards of 40 million dollars has already been spent, at 12% interest. We have to pay that back and it’s going to be based upon the valuations of those homes, the multi-family homes going in out there.”
Wilson said “My point is that, it will not suffice that type of development. So we are going to be subsidizing that development; the rest of the community. So we all have to get our minds around that. We need to know how we’re going to do that before we move forward.”
Mayor Wilson invited Hunt Developer Alan Bain to address the council, after which a lengthy and heated discussion transpired between the two businessmen.
Wilson repeatedly explained that the citizens of Forney do not want any more multi-family dwellings. He explained that the citizens were promised a retail development and that it is not in the best interest of the city to move forward under the current Development Agreement.
Mayor Wilson said “While we’re discussing this. I’ll say, I do have a problem with it. Because number one, I don’t believe these council members, me either, have the right to obligate future councils for thirty years. I just don’t believe that we should do that. A ten year contract should have been more than sufficient and then we’d already be out of it. But a thirty year contract is not something a sitting member of the council should add on to future council members. I’m not directing it at you. That is just not something we should be doing.”
All Forney residents are highly encouraged to view the tape of this council meeting.
And for those residents who are still wondering who “sold out” Forney; well the score card goes like this.
Darrell Grooms was the Mayor of Forney from May 2003 to May 2009.
He approached Herbert Hunt and negotiated the Gateway Project deal in 2007.
Grooms promoted the development of a specific Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TRIZ) that was dedicated for residential and retail development by the Hunts.
While mayor, he obligated the citizens to a thirty year contract that provides Hunt developers with infrastructure reimbursement, up to $150 million dollars, at 12% interest.
Approximately eighteen months after leaving office, Darrell Grooms was hired by former city manager Brian Brooks to serve as a consultant on the Gateway Project.
The City of Forney paid Darrell Grooms $4,000 per month for the length of the attached contract.
Now, Hunt developers claim they have spent more than 40 million dollars in infrastructure on the Gateway Project that they would like reimbursement on. And they have announced that they have no plans to build a retail shopping center as part of the Gateway development.
True to form, Darrell Grooms is apparently unwilling to step forward and explain his Gateway negotiations and consulting duties to the current council or the residents of Forney.
Darrell Grooms was not at this meeting, nor was he at the February 28, 2018 Joint Meeting of the City Council.
Gateway Project Documents
Written by: Denise Bell