Volume 20, Issue 15 - April 15, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
What an interesting moment of time Americans are experiencing today in the government marketplace. The abundance of available funding is so new, some public officials are hesitant to spend it. But, in other jurisdictions, innovation is rampant and visionary leaders are launching large projects with abandon. Water resources, citizen services, cleaner air, increased public safety, and economic development – these are just some of the resulting benefits.

Public-private partnerships (P3s) are breathing new life into outdated facilities and unused public land. Rural areas are getting broadband, and government officials are leading initiatives that focus on sustainability, technology modernization, and quality of life issues. But, P3 engagements also are harnessing resources and expertise from both sectors to deliver future revenue generating options for public entities.

In New Hampshire, city leaders in Dover hope to harness the benefits of a P3 model by constructing a new sports complex designed for public use. It will be leased out for competitions of various types. The Dover Sports Complex Committee recently issued a request for information (RFI) for private-sector partners capable of helping the city deliver the new recreational facility that will benefit citizens, attract visitors, and generate significant revenue over the next decade or two. Construction will coincide with the city’s Cocheco River Waterfront development project by locating the recreational facility nearby. The plan is for a private-sector firm to construct, own, and operate the new venue on leased land from the city. The RFI is pending until the end of April.

The city of El Paso released a draft Onward Alameda Corridor Plan that will serve as a planning tool for evaluating development proposals, guiding capital improvements, and shaping public policy to reflect community values and needs.

Alameda Avenue is among the nation’s first transcontinental highways, connecting El Paso to other cities across Texas and the U.S. before the advent of the interstate highway system. After the construction of Interstate 10 in the late 1960s, Alameda went from serving as one of the primary entrances to the city to a somewhat forgotten and neglected road with its sidewalks and historic buildings heavily deteriorated.

This corridor study area includes the 13-mile stretch of Alameda Avenue within the city of El Paso, from Texas Avenue to the city boundary, as well as 1.5 miles of Texas Avenue from Alameda Avenue to Campbell Street. The focus of the physical planning elements of the study extends approximately one-quarter of a mile in either direction from the centerline of Alameda Avenue.

Public input combined with city planning efforts inspired “5 Big Ideas” to:
  • Create complete and healthy neighborhoods with a variety of housing choices. 
  • Reimagine streets as great public spaces, enhance mobility, and increase connectivity.  
  • Become a leader in green energy and address stormwater sustainably.  
  • Create capacity and structure for implementing the plan.  
  • Build upon existing strengths and focus efforts on a few places. 

This plan lays out a framework for a coordinated approach to create transit-oriented development and general improvements along the Alameda corridor based on the vision created during the public input process.

In the immediate term, the plan calls for public-sector strategies and action items to be implemented to establish the groundwork and process to support new investment in walkable communities along Alameda, building upon the city’s investment in the Alameda Brio route.

Over the longer term, much of what the plan entails is to be carried out by private entities as individual properties are developed over time, supported by city capital improvements and incentives.
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin has established a unique program that already is delivering powerful benefits to students and the public at large. At The Impact Factory, students are becoming innovative civic entrepreneurs by learning startup strategies while experiencing every stage of a start-up firm and having positive, measurable impact on communities in need.

Just over a year old, The Impact Factory — a collaboration between Dell Medical School and the LBJ School of Public Affairs — engages students, faculty, and staff from nearly every school across campus, as well as dozens of cross-sector partners in Texas and nationally. Good things are already happening, and leaders are seeing positive outcomes from several of its programs and initiatives.

Drawing from its four core pillars of prototyping, acceleration, teaching, and capacity building, The Impact Factory’s portfolio programs have delivered more than 850,000 pounds of food to over 26,000 people facing food insecurity, aided in the hiring of more than 40 part-time employees, enrolled 260 mothers and babies in poverty in a scholarship program, connected over 6,000 people in 63 countries to combat loneliness and mental illness, helped 85 small business owners stay in business amid economic downturns, and overseen the education and development of nearly 300 student partners. The Impact Factory’s newest programs are relieving Americans’ medical debt, reuniting people experiencing homelessness with lost loved ones, and connecting high-risk young adults with transitional employment.

Executive Director Dr. Michael Hole said he is particularly fulfilled by hearing the stories of students who are enthusiastic about transforming the lives of people who were struggling before receiving help from The Impact Factory. He also believes in co-building solutions to society’s toughest problems alongside the community members actually facing those problems.

Seeing an opportunity to leverage economies of scale in several of the university’s startup-styled programs by incorporating them under one umbrella organization, Hole founded The Impact Factory in 2021.

Some of the projects in its portfolio include:
  • Good Apple, a doctor-prescribed grocery delivery service fighting food insecurity. 
  • Main Street Relief, a nationwide network of volunteers helping small businesses with financial management, strategic planning, technology, and more. 
  • Early Bird, a health system-integrated scholarship program for babies in families experiencing poverty. 
  • Big & Mini, a videoconferencing platform matching seniors and teens to combat social isolation and loneliness. 

He credits his staff and a team of Impact Fellows – educators and nonprofit, government, and corporate leaders – for mentoring these student-entrepreneurs and turning these programs into potential acquisitions.

The former case worker turned pediatrician, policy professor, investor, and serial entrepreneur has hopes of replicating this platform so its programs, teaching, training, and methodology may benefit other parts of the world. To share his expertise in national discussions, he is participating in the Biden-Harris Administration’s newly formed and nonpartisan Health Equity Leaders Roundtable.

Hole and roundtable colleagues, including executives from global firms, will investigate potential public-private partnerships, data-sharing opportunities, and possibilities for scaling evidence-based programs via federal policy to address health inequities.
The New Braunfels City Council approved agreements with Union Pacific on April 11 to purchase the railroad’s 3.62-acre downtown rail yard for $2.18 million and relocate its operations.

The city has been in negotiations since early 2020 with Union Pacific to acquire its site in the downtown area. Railroad leadership provided their direction to begin discussions with the city to formally enter an agreement and eventual purchase and sale agreement for the property.

To facilitate the transaction, the city agreed to fund the design and construction of a new office building and other facilities on Union Pacific-owned land at Corbyn Yard in Comal County.

In 2018, the city adopted a South Castell Area Master Plan for the downtown site predicated on the ultimate relocation of the rail yard. Consultants at the time recommended a 10-acre redevelopment possibly funded by a public-private partnership.

An associated master plan visioning document forecasts the potential for the rail yard site to serve as a catalyst project for downtown redevelopment, generating more than $100 million in investment.

Per the city document, New Braunfels would advertise a request for qualifications to developers followed by a request for proposals and negotiation and approval of a development agreement.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) soared to the second spot in a ranking of the world’s busiest airports in 2021 that saw U.S. airports claim eight of the top 10 standings.

Airports Council International (ACI) World, a trade association of the world’s airports, released its findings on April 11 that recorded more than 62.5 million passengers for a 58.7 percent increase from 2020, when it was the fourth-busiest airport according to ACI.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) reclaimed its title as the world’s busiest airport in 2021 as several major U.S. airports continued their pandemic recovery. Prior to 2020, the Atlanta airport had been the world’s busiest airport for 22 consecutive years.

Denver International Airport was third with 58.82 million passengers, Chicago O’Hare International Airport was fourth with 54.02 million passengers, and Los Angeles International Airport was fifth with 48.01 million passengers.

Total global passengers in 2021 is estimated to be close to 4.5 billion, representing an increase of almost 25 percent from 2020, or a drop of more than 50 percent from 2019 results.

The world airport rankings are based on the preliminary compilation of 2021 global data from airports around the world. The rankings reflect the most updated airport data used by the industry and include passenger traffic, cargo volumes, and aircraft movements.
John Nielsen-Gammon
Texas State Climatologist,
Director of the Southern Regional Climate Center 
Texas A&M University - Department of Atmospheric Sciences  
Public career and education highlights: I joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 1991 and was appointed Texas State Climatologist by Governor George W. Bush in 2000. The previous state climatologist, John Griffiths, retired, and I wanted to take on the role in order to help improve weather and climate information for Texas. I am also now director of the Southern Regional Climate Center; the Texas A&M System won the contract for that center last year from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

What I like best about my public service is: I love helping people. I’m a full-time faculty member who teaches and does research, in addition to my service duties, and both of those are important and rewarding. But with public service, I’m taking my unique but limited skills and knowledge and making them as useful as possible to as many people as possible.  I’m also lucky that it’s a job with variety: water managers need to know some things about future weather and climate, ranchers need to know something different, and so forth. So what I do is always interesting and engaging.

The best advice I’ve received is: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. I rely on that advice constantly. As for advice from someone who was born relatively recently, I think the best was what my postdoctoral advisor, Lance Bosart, told me: Always remember how lucky you are to be paid well for a secure job where you get to decide what to do and how to do it. Along with this opportunity comes the responsibility to uphold the public trust, making sure that this arrangement is a good deal for the people of Texas.

My favorite way to de-stress is: I play golf about once a week. Oh, wait, you asked about de-stressing. Probably my favorite way is through music. If I’m really stressed, I can sit down at the piano and play some Beethoven. Not very well, mind you, but trying to reproduce a piece of music that a great composer created requires so much concentration that I can’t be worrying about anything else. If I’m driving, I’ve got to listen to music: Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Hornsby, and Brad Paisley are some of my go-to artists.

People might be surprised to know that I: Am an English Premier League fan. I’m a “neutral,” meaning I there’s not a particular team that has my intense support. But, I have my favorites such as Leicester City during and after their Cinderella title year, Liverpool just because Jurgen Klopp and Mo Salah are so great, and Fulham when they featured Nacogdoches’ own Clint Dempsey. I attend the women’s soccer matches at Texas A&M too; I figure they need my support more than the men’s football team does.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Southern Regional Climate Center and in the Office of the State Climatologist is: We do climate services. People might think that’s all about climate change, but that’s not even our main focus. We provide data, and we provide valuable products based on that data. We know where all the weather and climate data are hidden, and we can find the right data for any particular need. Most importantly, I want people to know that we exist, and that we’re here to help Texas make the best possible use of weather and climate information.
The Houston Community College (HCC) System will host a virtual pre-submittal meeting at 10 a.m. April 20 for project management services. The event is non-mandatory.

Selected project managers will provide services for various projects on an as-needed basis. The college anticipates having projects of various size, scope, and complexity that resulted from the findings of a facilities condition, energy management, and space utilization studies, in addition to the assignment of various new and maintenance/repair construction related contracts including the management of job order contracts as necessary.

Some of the work performed may be relatively small, while other assignments could be more complex such as a complete remodel of a building or the provision of limited master planning efforts. HCC expects to perform all types of construction, renovations, remodels, retrofits, and an array of other work under the resulting contracts.

HCC has six district colleges and more than 15 campuses with over 6 million square feet. Pre‐COVID, the college serviced over 100,000 students per year. The system also includes six garages and numerous land tracts and third‐party leases within the real estate portfolio.
Plans for a new Police Training Academy in Corpus Christi are coming together with construction expected to start in early 2023.

The project has a budget of $21 million, with $16 million allocated for constructing the new academy. Completion is anticipated for April or May 2023.

The new Police Training Academy will be located on five acres on the Del Mar College Southside Campus. According to city officials, working with the college will save taxpayer money by using a nominal land lease and co-use of the college's planning, design, and infrastructure investments. The city is leasing the land from the college for 50 years with an option of 50 more years.

Funds for the design phase of this project were part of the $75 million bond election voters passed in November 2020. The design includes:
  • Large training classrooms. 
  • Administrative offices. 
  • Recourse room. 
  • Research library. 
  • Breakroom. 
  • Physical training spaces and locker rooms. 
  • Outdoor running track. 
  • Secure patrol car parking. 
Other Coastal Bend police agencies also may use the training facility as a training resource hub. Cadets will have access to food service and additional education courses using the college site.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved $24 million in financial assistance on April 11 for improvements to the city of Pflugerville’s water treatment plant (WTP).

Pflugerville’s WTP treats water from Lake Pflugerville, which is a reservoir supplied by the Colorado River. Hydrilla and zebra mussel raw water infestations in Lake Pflugerville have inflicted damage on the city’s membrane equipment.

In addition, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued an administrative order for several violations at the WTP in the past two years due to concentration time and cryptosporidium removal issues. The city also needs to increase capacity for a projected population increase of nearly 100,000 in the next 20 years.

Pflugerville plans to upgrade the WTP to address the infestations and TCEQ violations and expand capacity from 17.7 million gallons per day (MGD) to 30 MGD to meet projected water demand.

The proposed upgrades include architectural, structural, building mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, control, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) improvements.

Design work on this project is scheduled to begin in September with construction starting in November. The improvements are set for completion by October 2024.

The total project cost of $108.03 million is proposed to be funded by three sources: $24 million from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; $40.345 million from federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding, and $43.68 million from the city’s reserves.
Methodist Health Care Ministries of South Texas is partnering with Texas A&M University of Public Health to conduct a two-year study of toxic contaminants in residential drinking water within colonia communities in the Rio Grande Valley with two projects.

The Arsenic Surveillance in Border Communities' Drinking Water project's primary objectives are evaluating the burden of arsenic exposure in drinking water and evaluating the nutritional status and biomarkers to predict the health impacts of chronic arsenic exposure. The project will also assess the impact of an intervention to reduce arsenic exposure in households using tabletop pitchers.

The communities being studied will include households within four colonias, and findings will be compared to those from non-colonia areas focusing on Hidalgo County.

The second Citizen Science focused project aims to develop and test adapted Citizen Science training materials, create a field team to conduct work, and conduct focus group meetings to establish community-based water policy steps. The project will also pilot the dissemination of citizen science activities to a second border community to inform future projects.

Once complete in 2024, these projects will help create and advocate for public policy solutions to improve water quality in underdeveloped areas in South Texas.
Residents of Allen are gaining a clearer picture of what their central library will look like after a planned $16 million expansion and reconfiguration.

Architects attached to the Allen Public Library project are now beginning work on the detailed design stage of its delivery.

As work advances through this stage, they will gauge the project’s construction needs and will recommend an appropriate contracting vehicle to address them.

This recent progress was made possible after architects completed the project’s design concept and feasibility study — both of which were presented to city officials for review between the preceding January through March.

Architects designing the additions to Allen Public Library also opened plans to feedback from over 660 residents. Based on public input, the library expansion project will upgrade the children’s area, expand the teen area, add seating, improve operational efficiency, and develop more enriching educational programs. Library officials said the expansion would be smaller than 45,000 square feet.

In the meantime, site planning and detailed design work will continue to define the scope of construction, which is currently scheduled to begin in 2023 for a 2024 date of completion.
The city of San Marcos invites vendors to participate in a pre-bid video conference at 2 p.m. April 19 for the construction of a fire training facility.

Project scope entails a non-occupied first responder training structure. The residential-scale building will be approximately 3,148 square feet of floor area with two floors and an attic of about 1,381 square feet.

Award is scheduled for the City Council meeting on July 5. Final completion is expected within 210 calendar days after the project start date.
The nonprofit Great Springs Project (GSP) released its proposed master trail alignment on April 11 for a 100-mile hike and bike trail from Austin to San Antonio preserving 50,000 acres over the Edwards Aquifer.

This trail would connect Barton Springs, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs. Sections of the trail will likely be built in phases, with the order of phases depending on key factors such as funding, landowner negotiation, establishing right-of-way, permitting, design, and construction.

No budget has been set for the project as multiple factors are still at play, such as private landowners’ willingness to cooperate, public funding, and trail alignment. Project organizers estimate the overall cost of the trail to reach hundreds of millions of dollars. GSP is striving to finish the trail and conservation efforts by 2036.

Recently, Austin began construction on a missing link of the Violet Crown Trail, which will likely become the first segment of the Great Springs Trail leaving Austin. Construction is being completed using voter-approved bonds.

The GSP has already garnered strong support, including endorsements from members of Texas’ congressional delegation. Many private companies are also supporting the project.
Architecture students from Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University at College Station assembled in Galveston, Texas, earlier this month to brainstorm designs for a new Juneteenth Museum.

Juneteenth, which just last year was granted national holiday status, originated in the city of Galveston. The holiday commemorates the moment on June 19, 1865, when the Texas city’s population of enslaved peoples were finally alerted to their own freedom.

Galveston’s museum exhibits will contextualize the celebratory occasion by highlighting the city’s persistent link to slave labor — not only from before the Civil War, but also during and after it.

However, constructing an entirely new museum facility comes with significant costs. In addition to new construction, the assembled students evaluated adaptive re-use as an approach for museum construction.

Participants in the design brainstorming session proposed repurposing the Old Galveston Square Building to house the Juneteenth museum exhibits. The group identified two other possible sites for the museum as well: an empty field near Kermit Courville Stadium and the city’s existing Central Cultural Center.

Participating students will present their designs for an interactive, community-oriented Juneteenth museum by this year’s Juneteenth (i.e. June 19).
The Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) board of regents named Dr. Steve Westbrook as interim president on April 10. He took over from former President Dr. Scott Gordon.

Westbook has served in multiple positions at SFA, including two tenures as vice president of university affairs as well as roles as acting and interim president.
The West Lake Hills City Council on April 13 voted to hire Trey Fletcher as its new city administrator, effective May 2. He will take over from Interim City Administrator Ashby Grundman who filled the position after Travis Askey resigned in November 2021.

Fletcher has held various positions with the city of Pflugerville since 2006, most recently as the deputy city manager. In addition, he has served in various planning roles with the cities of College Station and Lake Charles, Louisiana, as well as a consulting firm in Houston.
The San Antonio ISD board of trustees named Dr. Jaime Aquino as the lone finalist to be the district’s new superintendent.

Aquino previously served as deputy superintendent of instruction for Los Angeles Unified School District, chief academic officer for Denver Public Schools, and instructional superintendent at the NYC Department of Education. He also was senior vice president at Discovery Education and chief program officer for New Leaders.
The city of Weatherford elevated Police Chief Lance Arnold to assistant city manager. Arnold will serve in both roles concurrently.

He previously served with the Norman, Oklahoma Police Department for 20 years in a variety of roles in patrol, traffic, recruiting, personnel, training, and special weapons and tactics.
The city of Burnet named Carly Kehoe as director of public works and community development.

Kehoe has worked as a senior planner and project in both the public and private sector with a background in urban/city planning and land development. She currently serves as chairman of the Texas chapter of the American Planning Association.
The city of Hutto selected Jeff Yarbrough as its next police chief, effective April 18. He will succeed Jim Stuart, who served as interim police chief the past several months.

Yarbrough currently serves as chief of police for Round Rock ISD. Before that, he was police chief for Bastrop ISD, sergeant investigator with the Texas Attorney General, senior investigator with the State Bar of Texas, and assistant city manager and chief of police for the city of Tulia.
The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) invites IT and purchasing professionals from across government and public sectors to attend the biennial DIR Connect Technology Expo from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 19.

Register today for the event at the Palmer Events Center in Austin to connect with more than 150 contracted IT vendors. Registration is free for government and public-sector employees.

DIR Connect brings DIR-contracted technology vendors together with IT and purchasing staff from state agencies, local and county government, hospitals, emergency response entities, K-12 and higher education to raise awareness about the state agency’s Cooperative Contracts (Co-op) program and Shared Technology Services (STS) program.

The DIR Co-op Contracts is a streamlined cooperative purchasing program for state and local government, public education, and other public entities within and outside the state of Texas. The STS program enables organizations access to managed IT as a shared service, allowing customers to focus resources on supporting their mission and business functions rather than directly managing IT services.

This Expo features a dynamic keynote presentation, including multiple concurrent breakout sessions, as well as the IT Negotiations training required by the 85th Texas Legislature. Continental breakfast, breaks, and lunch will be provided, and attendees will have ample time to visit the popular DIR Connect Technology exhibit hall.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 8-14:

Eleventh Administrative Judicial Region - Presiding Judge 
Susan Brown - Houston (reappointed)

First Administrative Judicial Region - Presiding Judge 
Ray Wheless - McKinney

Texas State Library and Archives Commission 
Nancy Painter Paup - Fort Worth
David Iglesias - Tyler (reappointed)
Martha Wong - Houston (reappointed)

Correctional Managed
Health Care Committee 
Brian Edwards - El Paso
Julia Hiner - Houston
Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research – Hurricane Harvey Funding Dashboard
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Secretary of State – Administrative Assistant III (two positions)

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Program Specialist V

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Budget Analyst III

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Manager V

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Management Analyst V

  • Texas State Securities Board – Financial Examiner II

  • Texas Water Development Board – Outreach Team Lead (Program Specialist VI)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – HOME-ARP Project Analyst

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Single Family Programs Production Coordinator

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Multimedia and E-Learning Specialist

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Program Specialist

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Multimedia Producer

  • City of West Lake Hills – City Secretary/Human Resources Director

  • Travis County – Engineer – Development Services
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