City approves $227,515 grant for new street

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Game room ordinance passes first reading.

The Pampa City Commission approved on first reading a $227,515 grant by the Pampa Economic Development Corp. to CP 45(TX) LLC for construction of a street to be known as Stoney Brook Lane at its regular meeting Tuesday. 

The proposed location of the street will be north of Sierra and will connect Hobart Street to Northcrest Drive. The street would be approximately 3,300 feet in length.

It will be paved with asphalt and have curbs and gutters, said Donny Hooper, public works director for Pampa.

The street is being built for a new assisted-living facility that will be built at the corner or Northcrest and Stoney Brook.

Country Place Senior Living of Pampa will be a 17,500-square-foot facility with 24 units with 30 beds, said Gary Sutherland, president of the PEDC board. 

Construction of the center is expected to begin later this year and cost $3 million, Sutherland said.

Hooper said the property for the assisted-living facility had been zoned and platted for that purpose in 2008 when an assisted-facility called Sunflower was proposed for the site. 

Hooper added that the $227,515 cost is line with recent estimates he had for building the street.

The Commission also passed on first read an ordinance to regulate game rooms and other establishments with amusement redemption machines.

Pampa City Manager Richard Morris said within the past year gaming rooms have sprung up throughout the city.

There are also gaming machines at the VFW post, which donates most of the profits from the machines to student scholarships and charities.

Morris introduced Pampa Police Chief Kelly Rushing, who said an ordinance was needed for both accessibility and safety.

Rushing said that while some of the game room operators have been cordial with the police department, others have been a little difficult.

“I felt like we needed accessibility,” he said. “We had reports of criminal activities with some, but not all, of these places. There have been narcotics at some.”

On safety, Rushing said any establishment that has these machines must be clearly marked.

“We can’t have windows blacked out,” he said.

Rushing said that state law permits the game rooms.

City Attorney Lee Waters drafted the Pampa ordinance.

Waters said he referenced game room ordinances from several cities in Texas, including Austin and San Benito. 

While Austin’s ordinance is only a page and a half long, San Benito’s is very detailed and “covers everything imaginable.”

In San Benito, each establish must pay $2,000 yearly for a business permit along with $300 per machine.

In Pampa, the fees will be $250 a year per machine.

Each machine will be required to have a seal from the state and another from the city.

Per the proposed ordinance, all game rooms must have transparent glass or not otherwise block or obscure the view through a game room window.

The presence of alcohol in game rooms is prohibited and no one under 21 will be allowed in a game room unless they are an employee of the business.

Anyone who fails to comply with the ordinance can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined up to $500 for each offense. Each day that a violation occurs will be a separate offense.

During the public comment on the agenda item, Pampa resident Roberta Klapper said Rushing answered her primary question: Are gaming rooms legal?

She said her understanding was they weren’t legal when they took it out of the city except for the VFW.

Regardless of whether they are legal, Kapper said she is not for having them in the city.

“I have personal knowledge of someone going into one and losing $6,000 in six weeks,” she said.

Danny Martin, VFW post commander, also spoke during the public comment.

Martin said he is in favor of the ordinance and has always allowed the police into the VFW.

“Rushing talked about narcotics and we don’t want that either,” he said.

Martin said he also doesn’t want a bar at the VFW.

The Commission also approved on first reading a $20,000 grant from the Pampa Economic Development Corp. to the City of Pampa for construction of golf cart paths at Hidden Hills Public Golf Course.

In 2011, $9.975 was approved and in late 2012 $50,000 was approved.

Approval of the additional $20,000 will complete all of the cart paths, said Assistant City Manager Shane Stokes.

Stokes said along with building cart paths, funds will be used for installing sprinkler systems and planting grass.

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