School won't resume for a few more weeks, but that didn't stop members of Allen City Council from taking a one-of-a-kind field trip.
Mayor Stephen Terrell and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Caplinger joined councilmembers Baine Brooks, Carl Clemencich, Kurt Kizer, Lauren Doherty and Robin Sedlacek on Saturday, July 28 for a behind-the-scenes look at City operations. The six-hour tour highlighted recent projects that improve the lives of Allen residents and help City staff work more efficiently.
Councilmembers began the day at the City Hall Data Center, then learned about 9-1-1 services at Allen fire/police dispatch.
“Technology infrastructure plays a key role in enabling service delivery to our citizens," said I.T. director Eric Matthews. "Ensuring firefighters get the call across the network, keeping citizen data protected, and creating a digital foundation for citizens to engage through mobile, social and web are all examples of how smart investments in technology serve the public good."
Officials then got an inside look at Allen’s water distribution and storage system, visiting two water towers and the Stacy Road Pump Station. They took particular interest in the SCADA system, which monitors and controls the flow and storage of Allen's water and wastewater. Next, they stopped at the Municipal Service Center learning how traffic crews create city street signs. City staff had also arranged demonstrations of several specialized city vehicles, including the sewer camera truck, vactor truck, asphalt patcher and police cruisers.
For some, it was the first time seeing these critical city operations up close.
“When you watch these vehicles in action, it makes you realize why each one is so vital to our city,” said Community Services Director Steve Massey. “The equipment itself is important, but so are the people who have the skills and training to operate it."
Between stops, councilmembers drove through several Allen parks, including the 75-acre Spirit Park scheduled to open this fall. Staff then guided the group through the mechanical room at Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium, describing the delicate processes of maintaining the 494,000 gallons of water flowing through the leisure and competition pools. At Allen Event Center, they watched a new chiller make ice for the city's two indoor rinks.
“So much of what we do goes on behind the scenes, from maintaining our ice to filtering our pools,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tim Dentler. “It's something our regular visitors don't get to see."
After lunch at The Courses at Watters Creek, the tour zeroed-in on public safety. Councilmembers toured Fire Station #5 and drove by the future site of Fire Station #6. The day concluded with a visit to the new Police Firearms Training Center at the Collin College Public Safety Training Complex in McKinney. Allen voters approved $7.9 million to fund such a facility in the 2016 bond election. By partnering with Collin College and the City of McKinney, Allen was able to contribute just $4.6 million, resulting in a huge savings for Allen taxpayers and eliminating ongoing costs of maintenance and upkeep.
“It's truly a state-of-the-art space," said Mayor Stephen Terrell. "Officers will be able to take advantage of specialized training and decision-making scenarios to improve their response to critical calls. It's something that will make our whole community safer."
City staff said they valued the interest and time councilmembers gave to the tour.
“They didn’t have to give up their entire Saturday,” said City Manager Peter Vargas. “But it proves how invested they are in making the right decisions for Allen."