Coppell Chronicle Vol. 4, No. 19 (2024)

Coppell Chronicle Vol. 4, No. 19 (1)

Because the Coppell Chronicle was a proud sponsor of Coppell’s Party in the Park, I got to set up a booth at Andrew Brown Park East last night, when I tried — without much success — to sell branded trucker caps. A lot of people celebrating our nation’s birthday looked at me sideways when I informed them I was selling the hats, as opposed to giving them away. Hey, what’s more American than capitalism?

Because I have a dozen of them left, here’s the deal: The next 12 free subscribers who upgrade to a paid subscription will have one of these bad boys delivered to their porch.

New Demolition Permit Issued for Old Church

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Two of the most dramatic Coppell City Council meetings I’ve chronicled were about Chris Collins’ plans for the land underneath a long-dormant church in Old Town. The council approved Collins’ zoning changes and a demolition permit in April of 2023, but not much has happened since then.

(See “Old Church Remains Standing for Now” in Vol. 2, No. 43 and “Majority of Council Trusts Developer” in Vol. 3, No. 8.)

While poking around in the guts of the city’s website recently, I noticed that a new demolition permit for the church was issued on June 20. A previous demolition permit that was issued in May of 2023 expired a year later.

Collins had a contract to buy the property on the southwest corner of Main Street and Bethel Road from Steven Chadick, but Dallas Central Appraisal District records indicate the property is owned by Chadick Capital, as it has been since 1999.

Collins’ name was attached to the expired demolition permit. “I am not involved with that project any more,” he told me via email last week.

Chadick’s name is attached to the new one. I’ve emailed him, left him a voicemail, and texted him, but he has not yet replied to any of my attempts to establish a dialogue.

This experience is apparently not unique to me. I briefly mentioned the new demolition permit in last week’s edition, which prompted Jacaranda Gift Shop owner Sarah Carrick to say this in the comments: “For someone who is desperate to sell their property, Mr. Chadick sure is a difficult person to get hold of! We called, texted, and emailed for over a year, wanting to discuss purchasing the property and the property across the road, but he never replied to any. So who knows what his plans are?!?!”

In other news from Old Town …

• If Collins’ proposal had never existed, a strong contender for the title of “most contentious council meeting” might have been the one I documented last December in an article called “Dumpster Location Leads to Frosty Relations.” That was about Diana Ahmad’s proposal to have her new building on Main Street zoned for restaurant uses, much to the chagrin of neighbors Eli and Ann Dragon.

Ahmad had said she and her husband planned to live in one of the apartments on the second floor of her building. However, as recently as May 30, the property was listed for sale on LoopNet. Ahmad and I traded a couple of texts about that, but we were not able to discuss it. Since then, the LoopNet listing has been recategorized as a lease instead of a sale.

Meanwhile, signs posted in the windows of Ahmad’s building indicate that the space closest to the Dragons’ building will soon be occupied by Artsy Cakery.

• The Coppell Arts Center is the subject of a glowing profile that appears in today’s print edition of The Dallas Morning News. That story is part of the Arts Access collaboration between the Morning News and KERA, so you can read it on the National Public Radio station’s website.

While we’re discussing the Arts Center and the Morning News, today is the last day you can vote for the venue in the newspaper’s Best in DFW awards.

• Like many Coppell residents, I’ve long been frustrated and confused by Taqueria La Ventana’s failure to launch. (See “Taqueria Missing Its Window of Opportunity” in Vol. 3, No. 33.) Under one of the periodic posts about the yet-to-open restaurant in Facebook’s “Coppell, Texas” group, former Mayor Mark Wolfe said he has rented the space to host catered meals for his business and for his homeowners association.

I asked Wolfe for his contact, because my attempts to reach anyone at Taqueria La Ventana or its parent company, Local Favorite Restaurants, have been unsuccessful. He put me in touch with Rachel Urquhart, who runs events and catering for Local Favorite. I asked her whether the restaurant will open on a full-time basis anytime soon. She ran that question up the flagpole, and this was the response: “There are no further updates at this time.”

Coppell ISD Employees to Get 3 Percent Raises

As expected, Coppell ISD trustees on Monday approved 3 percent cost-of-living adjustments for all employees.

To be clear, each employee’s salary is not going up by 3 percent. The increase is based on 3 percent of the midpoint for each salary grade. For teachers who work 187 days, this equates to an extra $2,050 per year, Assistant Superintendent Kristen Eichel said.

“We feel strongly that this percent increase acknowledges the many challenges we’re all facing with our own budgets,” Eichel told the trustees.

“Remain a leader in salary/benefits; employee retention” is the first item on the board’s list of budget priorities. Before Monday’s 5-0 vote (with Trustees Nichole Bentley and Manish Sethi being absent), Board President David Caviness said, “I’m glad that, despite the budget challenges … we’re still focusing on our employees.”

Speaking of budget challenges, Chief Financial Officer Diana Sircar told the trustees earlier in the meeting that the 2024-2025 budget has enough reductions in it to cover the 3 percent increases. The budget includes $2.6 million saved on salaries due to attrition and $1.1 million saved by reducing expenditures.

“However, we’re not making much upward progress on reducing the overall operating costs,” said Sircar, who then told the trustees that the latest draft of the budget includes a deficit of nearly $11 million.

An article in last week’s edition called “Coppell ISD Surveys Voters About Tax Hike” included this statement: “The trustees have been covering deficits for the past few years by dipping into the district’s fund balance, which is not a sustainable approach.” Former Board of Trustees candidate Jonathan Powers disputed that in the comments.

“Coppell ISD has never realized a budget deficit,” Powers wrote. “They’ve saved more money than they’ve spent every single year. CISD says they’ll finally realize a deficit for the 2023-24 school year, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Sure enough, Sircar showed the trustees a chart last April that showed the actual audited results for the past several school years produced surpluses, despite the forecasted deficits.

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I emailed Sircar seeking clarity after reading Powers’ comment, and she pointed out that the surpluses for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 were much smaller than the actual results for previous years, indicating that expenditures were very close to the revenues for those years.

“The budget is adopted in August, often before any new legislation is implemented by the state, so districts budget using the best information available at the time,” Sircar wrote. “As enrollment, attendance, property values, and new legislation becomes more clear, districts start to get a clearer picture of the actual revenue that will be earned for the school year. However, actual revenues and expenditures can vary significantly from the original budget.”

Although the budget for 2023-2024 was adopted in August of 2023, Sircar said districts won’t find out exactly what state revenue was generated for that school year until April of 2025.

Let’s Pause for a Brazen Promo

I’m working on a crazy story for next week’s edition, one that I never could have predicted I’d write when I launched this newsletter in 2021. And this article will be for paid subscribers’ eyes only, so if you’ve been on the fence about upgrading, maybe this little tease will tempt you to pony up.

Memo to the employees and elected officials of the City of Coppell and Coppell ISD: Relax! This bonkers story has nothing to do with any of you. Although coverage of local governments is my bread and butter, this one’s about a foreign government … and Coppell.

Bridge Over I-35 Could Close for One Year

If your commute involves the bridge over Interstate 35E that connects Luna Road and Old Denton Road, then I have some bad news for you: It will be closed for up to a year.

Anybody who’s recently driven on I-35E knows that the Texas Department of Transportation has a lot going on over there. The project’s primary goal is widening the stretch of highway between Interstate 635 and the Denton County line. The number of general-purpose lanes on either side of I-35E is being increased from three to four, and each of its frontage roads is gaining a third lane. The construction is supposed to continue until the end of 2025.

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Because the majority of the work is happening within Carrollton’s city limits, representatives from TxDOT and its contractor, Lone Star Constructors, give periodic updates to the Carrollton City Council. The most recent of these updates happened on May 21, when TxDOT project manager Nolan Del Hierro said the aforementioned bridge will be completely reconstructed. Consequently, the bridge will be unavailable for up to a year, starting in September.

“I’m not understanding why you would take away an entire bridge like that for a year,” said City Council Member Jason Carpenter, who wanted to know why the bridge’s two sides couldn’t be reconstructed in different phases. Del Hierro’s answer didn’t provide a lot of clarity.

“We thought that, you know, just going ahead and closing it down, demoing it all, and attacking it all was gonna be the best bet,” said Del Hierro, who stressed that the bridge might not be closed for an entire year. “There’s an opportunity to get it done quicker.”

Bob Stevens, a project manager with Lone Star Constructors, said TxDOT asked the contractor to determine whether a portion of the existing bridge could be saved. Stevens said doing so would have reduced the service life of the reconstructed bridge.

“So it takes a whole year to build a bridge?” Carpenter asked him. Not necessarily, Stevens said: “We have up to 12 months.”

Mayor Steve Babick said everyone involved needs to figure out how to condense that timeline.

“This is a thoroughfare that gets a ton of traffic,” Babick said. “Your detours are going to be important; the timing’s going to be important.”

Del Hierro promised to communicate a detour plan well in advance of the September closure, but he admitted during the May meeting that the plan hadn’t been drafted. City Secretary Chloe Sawatzky told me last week that Carrollton officials are working with TxDOT to review the plan, which should be ready by mid-July.

“Figuring out the staging and the scheduling within the city is gonna be important,” Babick told Del Hierro, “because you can gridlock our city.”

Potential Expansion of 114 Remains Unfunded

If State Highway 114 ever gets widened, the Coppell ISD neighborhoods on either side of it may be shielded by noise walls.

The Texas Department of Transportation has a long-term plan to add a fourth westbound lane to match the four on the eastbound side. The project would also add a second managed lane to the middle of the highway.

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(I’ll admit that I never noticed 114 is asymmetrical until I reviewed the materials prepared for a June 20 public meeting. I guess I’m daydreaming about the next edition of this newsletter whenever I’m driving on that highway.)

Those materials say the estimated construction cost is $1.5 billion, but they also say the project remains unfunded. TxDOT estimates having enough money by June of 2027 to put the project out to bid. Materials prepared for a similar public meeting in 2023 estimated that the funds would be lined up by 2028. I can’t say why at least six months got shaved off that timeline.

In any case, if the project gets funded, it may include noise walls benefitting the southernmost neighborhoods in Coppell ISD, the ones occupying the four corners where Belt Line Road intersects with 114. The meeting materials include schematics for noise walls, but they also say the construction of such barriers will depend on a majority vote of “adjacent property owners and benefitted receivers.”

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TxDOT welcomes the public’s comments on all this, but you have a deadline of July 8 to speak up. The meeting materials provide several options to say your piece.

Restaurant Roundup

• Longtime readers will recall my obsession with the former Subway space near Market Street. Work has finally begun to convert it into a Swig store, because the City of Coppell issued a building permit last month. That permit features an explanatory sentence that was also included in a form filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation back in February: “The main purpose of this facility is to prepare and serve gourmet soda drinks.” Meanwhile, a “notice of lock-out of commercial tenant” bearing the name of Shipley Do-Nuts, which I noticed last September, is still taped to the door.

• I’m sorry to report that Ascension Coffee will close its doors in Cypress Waters for the final time today. The chain has six other locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area that will remain open, though.

• I’ve made four references in this newsletter to the “Double Yoke Cafe,” a restaurant that will take over the former home of Ms. Mary’s Southern Kitchen and the Deliman’s Grill. My spelling of “Yoke” was based on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission notice taped to the window, as reported in April. A closer inspection of the “coming soon” banners on Denton Tap Road revealed the place will actually be called the Double Yolk Cafe.

• It’s been more than a year since I reported that signage for Chulopan Bakery had been placed at the former home of Kasa Kolache on MacArthur Boulevard. Although Chulopan does not yet have regular operating hours, the bakery has established Facebook and Instagram accounts. Meanwhile, the only place I see a menu is on its WhatsApp account. What’s up with that?

• Two months ago, I asked my paid subscribers to name their favorite dish at any Coppell restaurant, after revealing that mine was pechuga con rellena at Ole’s Tex Mex. So you can imagine my dismay when I tried to order that dish last week and was told it had been removed from the menu. When I expressed my displeasure to owner Jesse Guerrero via email, he replied, “We removed it cause we only sold 3 a month. And probably to you.” But he assured me that the cooks might still prepare the dish if I ask the right people.

See? This is news you can’t get anywhere else!

Chronicle Crumbs

• Coppell High School junior Annabella Perk won a state championship last month during the Texas 4-H Roundup. The event’s Food Show featured four categories — Appetizer, Main Dish, Side Dish, and Healthy Dessert — and Perk won the Main Dish ribbon for her seared duck breast with couscous, zucchini, and squash plus a pea puree topped with fried shallots and balsamic pearls. That recognition led to her preparing a melon and prosciutto salad while appearing on Fox 4’s Good Day program last week.

• Last November, the Coppell City Council approved a zoning change for a 17.7-acre property on the north side of State Highway 121, between Business 121 and the Coppell Greens neighborhood. That’s where a company called Lovett Industrial aims to build a 257,600-square-foot warehouse augmented by a pair of two-story office buildings. This month, Lovett filed a couple of forms with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation that indicate construction should begin in August and continue for one year.

• If you want your kid to play sports this fall, register him or her before the listed deadlines: Coppell Youth Football Association (TODAY), Coppell Youth Soccer Association (July 6), Coppell Baseball Association (Aug. 1), Coppell Girls Softball Association (Aug. 4), or Coppell Lacrosse Association (Sept. 15).

• The Sound at Cypress Waters has added a nine-hole putting green to its list of outdoor attractions. It’s between the under-construction buildings and the lake. Bring your own clubs and balls, or borrow some from the Flying Saucer.

Community Calendar

Sensory Sensitive Fourth of July Celebration: The Sound at Cypress Waters will host an event on Wednesday featuring LED bracelets that “synchronize to create a dynamic and immersive light display, offering a unique and engaging way to celebrate.”

Parade Down Parkway: The City of Coppell’s Independence Day parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the St. Ann Parish parking lot and proceed down Samuel Boulevard and Parkway Boulevard before ending at Town Center.

Coffee With a Cop: These events typically happen at coffee shops, but the July 11 edition will be at VariSpace Coppell. Coppell Police Department officers will be hanging out there between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Caregiving Heroes: This support group for people who are assisting loved ones with aging or other concerns usually meets at First United Methodist Church of Coppell on the first Saturday of each month. But the July meeting will happen at 10 a.m. on July 13.

Amy Martin: The author of Wild DFW will be at the Cozby Library and Community Commons at 2 p.m. on July 13 to discuss the natural wonders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Retro Barbie Party: The Cozby Library and Community Commons will celebrate 65 years of Barbie between 2 and 4 p.m. on July 14. This come-and-go party will feature pink mocktails, games, and crafts. Guests are encouraged to dress in their best outfits inspired by Barbie or Ken.

Soul Escape: The nationally recognized professional dance company will perform at the Coppell Arts Center at 7 p.m. on July 16 and at 6 p.m. on July 21.

July Paint & Sip: Sea Turtle: Kate Shema of Createria Studios will guide participants through a relaxing evening of creating a painting of a sea turtle. This event, which will begin at 6 p.m. on July 17, is for adults only because alcohol will be available.

Texas Gypsies: The eclectic band featuring a violin and a horns section — on top of the requisite guitar, bass, and drums, of course — will perform at the Coppell Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on July 20.

Coppell Chronicle Vol. 4, No. 19 (2024)
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