College Station is on course to receive about $6.44 million through grants from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
At Thursday’s city council meeting, council members voted unanimously to permit the city manager to apply for the money, which can be used for medical and public health expenses, payroll for public safety, expenses to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related to public health measures and more. All funds must be spent by Dec. 30.
Community Services Director Debbie Eller said Thursday that College Station is working with the city of Bryan and Brazos County on a combined process that will reimburse local businesses for expenses related to public health measures that were required due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other initiatives also are being considered, she said.
Eller said that about 75% of the funds will be spent on the business community through medical, public health and payroll expenses, while the rest will go toward economic activity initiatives in the community.
“We know that our businesses have taken a pretty significant hit and there are additional requirements that are in place for them, so we want to make these funds available to help support our local businesses,” Eller told the council.
During the meeting, College Station Police Chief Billy Couch gave a presentation about the department’s community outreach activities regarding race relations, recruiting and hiring, use of force policies and body cameras.
When answering a question from the council, Couch mentioned that he has started talking with the district attorney to set up additional plans if there was ever a “critical incident” such as an officer-involved shooting that would need to be investigated.
Currently, Couch said in an interview following the meeting, there is a critical incident response guide that permits him as the police chief to select who would conduct an investigation. Couch said that since he wants to be transparent with the community, he likely would assign the investigation to an outside law enforcement agency, but his discussions with the district attorney will help set up additional structures such as which agency the College Station police department would turn to in such a scenario so that those agreements are already in place if they ever are needed.
Couch said the discussions are in the early phases and that other law enforcement entities probably will be brought into the conversations this week. There is not yet a timeline on when the details of such a plan will be solidified, Couch said.
College Station council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a neighborhood’s request to repeal an ordinance that prohibited traffic calming — such as speed humps and repetitive stop signs — on Munson Avenue. The approval does not mean that these measures will be used right now, but gives the area residents equal access to the traffic calming ordinance that applies in other neighborhoods throughout College Station.
Council also approved a rezoning that is part of the midtown development, changing the zoning of about 33 acres on Rock Prairie Road from Rural to Planned Development District.