The Woodlands Township holds Special Emergency Board of Directors Meeting
The Woodlands Township held a Special Emergency Board of Directors Meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 4 p.m. at The Woodlands Township, 2801 Technology Forest Boulevard, The Woodlands, Texas 77381, to discuss matters related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. View the agenda of the meeting here and video here.
The meeting including the following discussion and updates:
Agenga Item 6: The Board received, considered and acted upon emergency authorities related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, and authorizing the President/General Manager to act in connection therewith.
The consideration was reviewed to cancel, postpone events through May 10, 2020 based on CDC recommendations. The motion was approved to give authority to cancel postpone events to the President/General Manager.
“Per Township Order 019-09, the President/General Manager is authorized to temporarily suspend, modify or restrict all or portions of the rights and privileges of park users, including holders of Special Event Permits, provided by the Order as necessary to address conditions of public emergencies. Therefore, President / General Manager Don Norrell issued an Emergency Notification suspending all Special Event Permits issued by the Township for events scheduled to occur in Township parks and recreation facilities through April 13, 2020, (Attachments C and D). This proclamation will be updated to suspend Special Event Permits for a period of 60 days, based on updated advice from the CDC. The Board of Directors reviewed, considered, and made motions on additional measures regarding public health, including residents, visitors, businesses and employees such as:“
- Restricting the use of Township public meeting rooms: (approved)
- Development Standards Committee meetings
- Residential Design Standards Committee meetings
- Parks and Recreation and Law Enforcement Advisory Councils
- Drainage Task Force (already cancelled)
- Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee
- Village Association meetings
- Rentals to Non-profit organizations
- Canceling and rescheduling Board of Directors meetings (discussion below)
- Temporarily closing operations at the recreation centers, boat houses, Texas TreeVentures (approved)
- Suspending all sports fields reservations (approved)
- Placing signage alerting users that while the playgrounds are not closed, the equipment is not being sanitized; users assume risk (approved)
- Closing park restrooms (approved)
- Suspending the use and opening of pools, spraygrounds and related programs/lessons (approved)
- Suspending the in-person intake of property improvement applications at Town Hall (approved)
- Suspending Property inspections (approved)
- Suspending staff attendance at meetings outside of the Township organization (exception of attendance pertaining to EOC)
- Suspending Town Center Trolley Service (approved)
- Adjustments to The Woodlands Express Park and Ride Service (discussion below)
- Adjustments to Alpha & Omega schedule (discussion below)
The Woodlands Township held a conference call early at 11 a.m. with local and county representatives. The Woodlands Township is engaged with the Emergency Operations Center and a big issue was reviewed, food supplies. See Chairman Bunch’s 1 p.m. full update here.
At this point, The Woodlands Fire Department will not be able to accept food or meal donations from the public during this time.
Further action has not been advised from the school districts. Conroe ISD will provide a live update on their Facebook page at 6 p.m.
The CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Another update was announced today of ceasing gatherings of 10 people or more has been recommended since last update.
The Drainage Task Force has already been cancelled.
The Board of Directors discussed the cancellation of The Woodlands Township events through May 10, 2020.
Canceling and rescheduling Board of Directors meetings, Adjustments to The Woodlands Express Park and Ride Service and Adjustments to Alpha & Omega schedule were removed or pulled from the full list of items (listed above) to discuss at a separate meeting or meetings.
The subject of President / General Manager Don Norrell retirement was tabled at another date.
The Board of Directors discussed the use of parks and other public areas regarding sanitization and limiting groups of 10 or more – and the possibility of closing the parks. The Board discussed the concern of cleaning surfaces, protecting the public, problems of enforcing the closure, and closing an outdoor release for people. The Board agreed that the paths will not be closed. The motion to place signs that the park is closed and visit at own risk was approved by the Board.
During the meeting, Governor Greg Abbott acted to maintain government transparency and continued government operations while reducing face-to-face contact for government open meetings. As Texas works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Governor granted the Office of the Attorney General’s request for suspension of certain open-meeting statutes. This temporary suspension will allow for telephonic or videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups of people. Read the full update here. The Board discussed options of meeting and requirements. The public comment requirement was not removed by the governor’s action.
Adjustments to The Woodlands Express Park and Ride Service was discussed and number of riders. Suggestion for the staff to work with the FDA and First Class Tours this week was provided. The concern for losing drivers due to cancelation was addressed. The Woodlands Express Park and Ride Service is currently cleaned twice a day. With the current recommendations, only 9 individuals would be allowed to ride with 1 driver.
Adjusting the hours of Alpha & Omega was discussed. Currently patrol monitors mall from 10am to 6pm. Due to The Woodlands Mall updated hours, the possibility to updating and reducing to 82 hours per week was presented. Hughes Landing hours have not been updated. The discussion of also monitoring areas of grocery stores (H-E-B) and ensuring law enforcement will be able to address needs due to more of the population being in The Woodlands area. The Board voted to give the President/General Manager authorization to temporarily suspend, modify or restrict all or portions of the rights and privileges as necessary to address conditions of public emergencies.
Members of the Board were opposed to cancel or reduce the number of Board of Directors meetings. The capability of having a virtual meeting, with public comment, was discussed. Request was made to review technology and research capability and meet in-person until further meetings. The agenda item will be discussed at the Board’s Thursday meeting. The next scheduled meeting for the Board of Directors is currently on Thursday, March 19.
The question and availability of additional screening measures to attend meetings proposed. People currently attending the meeting on March 16 followed CDC regulations, social distancing of 6 feet. A teleconference and remote option and the possibility of the public comment being in another room was discussed.
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors recessed to an Executive Session at 5:20 p.m.
The Board reconvened in a public session and discussed possibility of assisting nonprofits such as Interfaith of The Woodlands and Montgomery County Food Bank. No action or motion was taken.
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors adjourned until their regular meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 19.
Update 3/17 8 a.m. – Summary
All seven (7) members of The Woodlands Township Board were present and authorized the President/General Manager Don Norrell to cancel all Township events; close all Township parks, including dog parks, park restrooms, spraygrounds, pools, boathouses, recreation centers and Texas TreeVentures; suspend Sportsfield reservations; suspend Town Center Trolley service and restrict use of public meeting rooms through May 10, 2020.
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors authorized staff to analyze The Woodlands Express Park and Ride service and make recommendations to revise and/or eliminate routes as needed.
The Woodlands Township Board authorized the President/General Manager to redirect, reduce or eliminate hours for Alpha & Omega Mounted Patrol.
On Monday, March 6, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced for the next 15 days, starting at 8 a.m. March 17, 2020, that there would be an indefinite closure of all bars and night clubs in Houston and Harris County. This includes unincorporated areas which includes the Village of Creekside Park in The Woodlands.
View the full update by The Woodlands Township at https://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/civicalerts.aspx?AID=2961