NOLANVILLE — Renovations to the JW Sims Community Center and updates to the city’s parks ordinance were at the forefront of the Nolanville City Council meeting and workshop this week.
Brandstetter Carroll, Inc, a Dallas-based planning and architecture firm, presented several options to City Council during Thursday night’s meeting regarding the renovation of the community center into a “SMART museum.” Once complete, the museum is expected to educate residents about Nolanville’s impact on the local environment through active exhibits and virtual reality spaces. However, the project is unlikely to be completed before around August 2023.
“The project will likely take about 10 months to complete,” said Elizabeth Farrell.
Farrell, a representative for the architectural firm, said her firm is still due to send out bids later this month. The city council was presented with a list of “à la carte” options that could be added to the project. These options include replacing the current community center sign with a concrete sign, complete with block letters and public art. Additionally, the project would include metal panels on the exterior and a new paint job.
What the project probably won’t include is a gazebo.
“We’ve tried a variety of different placements, but electric utilities and others just won’t allow us to place the gazebo in this location,” Farrell said.
City Manager Kara Escajeda suggested placing the gazebo in Fox Park, but no specific location has been set. Finally, the community center will probably be completely closed during construction, which would be a slight blow for the city, which rents the space year-round. Whether the architectural firm works with its contractors to keep parts of the building open is up to the city council.
Several recommendations to the city’s park facilities ordinance were filed in part due to disagreement over how to handle vaping. As part of the recommended changes, vaping and tobacco use would be included in the list of prohibited activities in Nolanville parks.
However, Councilor David Williams said he “sees no danger” in allowing vaping outdoors.
“Firsthand vaping I can see, but not for others,” he said.
Taking the opposite side, Councilman James Bilberry countered by saying people would throw their vape cartridges at the park and that vaping could have a similar effect to second-hand smoke.
“It’s like when people first started smoking, they had no idea how dangerous secondhand smoke is,” he said.
Mayor Andy Williams added that cannabidiol, also known as CBD, can be purchased as a “leafy substance”. He pointed out that CBD is not illegal, would not technically violate the Parks Facilities Ordinance as written, and would not be confiscated by state law.
“There’s a bit of a gray area,” he said.
After some debate, David Williams tried unsuccessfully to pass the order while removing the “no vaping” clause. He then attempted to pass the prescription as suggested but received no seconds. The ordinance was eventually tabled after a motion by Bilberry, who said the city council needed clarity and time to consider some aspects of the proposed changes.
Nolanville enacted a smoking ban in the workplace, public spaces and parks in 2018.
Other items on Thursday’s agenda included a possible “Welcome to Nolanville” signage project on Nola Ruth Boulevard and several amendments to the annual budget of the Nolanville Economic Development Committee.