Weatherford Democrat

February 21, 2013

Walden hosts first in series of Pct. 3 stakeholder meetings


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

GREENWOOD — A stakeholder meeting Tuesday by new commissioner Larry Walden for residents of Parker County’s precinct No. 3 drew an appreciative standing-room only crowd to the Greenwood Fire Station.

Several residents thanked Walden for the hour-long public forum, the first of four he has scheduled for different parts of the precinct through the beginning of March in order to hear concerns and set funding priorities.

“There are several people in precinct No. 3 that think we’ve been without representation for awhile,” Assistant Fire Chief John Burgoyne, of the Greenwood Fire Department, said. “We appreciate you doing this.”

Burgoyne asked Walden to look into why bulldozers and other heavy county equipment — used to battle large fires — have been scaled back, and Walden responded that he supports their use.

Suzette Paulson asked if the county could keep businesses that are “eyesores” out — pointing to a gas plant and a shingle recycler — but learned that state agencies govern the operation of such businesses, and county zoning ordinances offer little protection.

A new fence has been erected to screen a scrap metal dealer’s property because the business is considered a junk yard, Fire Marshal Shawn Scott explained, so a statute applies.

One resident complained of the heavy saltwater truck traffic on Fairview Road coming from wells in the Barnett Shale. Others noted that the intersection of Greenwood Road with the incoming Ric Williamson Memorial Highway has been without pavement for several months.

Barricades are not keeping people off the RWMH, one resident remarked, and Sheriff Larry Fowler agreed, saying removing the barricades is a violation of the law.

“Several of you mentioned that you don’t know [when traveling Greenwood Road] that you’re about to come up to the loop,” Walden said. “[County officials] have realized there’s a [similar] problem with Old Garner Road and the loop. We will work to keep it safe.”

Walden said precinct No. 3 has a lot of older, narrow roads that are now carrying too much traffic. When addressing these roads, he said, safety will be the number one consideration.

Bud Williams asked about Old Brock Road, saying a rebuild for part of it is long overdue. Precinct No. 3 foreman Elton Glidewell replied that the engineering firm Freese and Nichols was supposed to be drawing up a plan, and some of the right-of-way must still be purchased.

Other concerns included rock mailboxes built dangerously close to the street; annual instead of biannual county clean-ups, resulting in more trash by the roadside; the noise and air pollution generated by the gas plant; and a request that roads built on hills be striped, to avoid collisions.

One resident said he’s asked to have a tree in the right-of-way of Ellis Drive removed for more than a year.

Many residents object when trees are cut down, Walden said.

“If it were up to me,” he said, “there wouldn’t be a tree in the right-of-way anywhere.”

Walden promised to “look at options” for county clean-ups, saying he believes the expensive events pay for themselves.

He said he has been told that recycling doesn’t benefit the county financially, but instead costs about $400 to empty a filled dumpster.

Walden said there were no surprises as residents shared their issues, but he was refreshed by the way they approached presenting them.

“They didn’t have unrealistic expectations,” he said. “They just wanted conditions to be better.”

Walden’s three other forums will be conducted Feb. 21 at the Brock Community Center, 625 Olive Branch Road, in Weatherford; March 5 at ESD No. 6 Fire Station, 6300 Granbury Highway, in Weatherford; and March 7 at the Millsap Community Center, 104 Fannin, in Millsap. All the meetings begin at 7 p.m.