The Willow Park City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance establishing the regulation of residency for sex offenders at its regular meeting Tuesday, April 11.
The ordinance defines child safety zones within the city. It regulates sex offenders who are required to register for offenses related to a victim less than 16 years of age from establishing a permanent or temporary residence within 1,000 feet of the child safety zones.
Such zones include schools, parks, swimming pools, daycare centers, and playgrounds. Anywhere children younger than 16 could possibly have activities.
In asking the council to approve the ordinance, interim Willow Park Police Chief Daniel Franklin said it will “give a little more protection to children in our community.”
Once the ordinance was approved, Franklin said, "I think it's great. There's several areas in North Texas that have these."
Franklin said violation of the ordinance, a Class C misdemeanor, will carry a fine of up to $500 per day with possible jail time. He added there are some exceptions, such as a minor still living with parents who move into the zone.
Franklin said the city has three registered sex offenders living within its limits, including one who might be in such a zone; that person will be “grandfathered” and not be asked to move. However, if that person moves out of the zone they will not be allowed to move back in.
The Willow Park Police Department is taking STEPs to ensure driving through the area on or near Interstate 20 will be safer.
At their meeting the council approved the implementation of two STEP grants from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The first is for the famous Click It or Ticket program and the second is for Operation Slow Down.
Both are matching grants with a 79.27% to 20.73% split. TxDOT will provide up to $2,997.60 and the city will match with up to $783.94 in each grant.
The funds are needed because enforcing both programs will require extra work and overtime for officers.
The Click It or Ticket program was made famous years ago through a series of media ads, most notably on TV. The purpose of this grant is to increase the wearing of seat belts in all passenger vehicles.
TxDOT statistics cite that in 2021 there was a 14% increase from 2020 in the number of fatalities involving not wearing a seat belt. They also cite that this program has saved (statewide) more than 6,900 lives, prevented more than 120,000 serious bodily injuries, and saved Texas more than $26.3 billion in related economic costs, since its inception 20 years ago.
"We do write a lot of no seat belt tickets or warnings. We also see a lot of unrestrained children," Willow Park PD Sergeant Jaclin Ramirez told the council.
The enforcement waves for Click It or Ticket in Willow Park will be May 22–June 4. The enforcement zones will include:
The purpose of this grant is to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes by enforcing the speed limit.
TxDOT notes that speed is the most common factor in crashes in Texas with at least one third of all crashes being related to speed.
Enforcement waves for Willow Park will be July 14-30. The enforcement zone will be I-20 from west boundary at Mikus Road/FM 5 to west boundary at Tricia Trail, including frontage/access roads.
The council voted to amend the existing joint solid waste contract with Republic Waste Services. The existing agreement expires April 30.
The amended renewal will run through April 30, 2026. It will also bring the city of Aledo onboard to join existing agreement members Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, Annetta North, Annetta South, and the Town of Annetta.
Also, beginning in May, the monthly rate for collection be will $20.78 ($17.63 base fee, $3.15 for cart) for trash and recycling pickup throughout all six cities with a 4% annual increase in the base fee.
Beginning on May 1, 2026, Republic’s garbage, trash, and recycling collections will all be by polycarts, and Republic will use an entirely new fleet of automated side loader trucks to service all the cities for such collections, doing away with the current system of workers manually emptying the trash and recycle into the back of the trucks. However, Republic may continue to utilize its existing fleet for brush and debris collection and disposal.
Republic officials also noted that no employees will lose their job as a result of the change in pickup. They will be given other duties within the company.
Once the amended renewal expires, the new agreement begins May 1, 2026 for a five year initial term with a five year automatic renewal, unless 180 days notice of non-renewal is provided. After the five year initial term, a city may terminate the agreement for convenience for that city on the annual anniversary date by giving at lease 120 days notice to Republic.
The council voted to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to help construct a new sanitary sewer line along Bankhead Highway from Ranch House Road to the east city limits. The project consists of approximately 5,500 linear feet of an 8-inch gravity sewer and will allow service to the currently unserved areas east of Ranch House and south of Interstate 20.
Assistant City Manager Bill Funderburk said $939,284 are still available from the ARP funds the city received. Total cost of the project is estimated to be $1,152,768.
Funderburk said he anticipates the work getting underway in six to nine months.
At the start of the meeting, Willow Park Mayor Doyle Moss made a proclamation honoring Freedom House in recognition of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Freedom House is a domestic violence and sexual assault service provider in Parker County.
National statistics show that:
This marks the 22nd anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year’s campaign theme is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” The theme draws on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change the systems surrounding us to build equity and respect within our community.
For more on Freedom House, call 817-596-7543 or visit https://www.freedomhousepc.org/.
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