A packed house in the auditorium of Spring Woods High School heard the City of Houston’s plans for improvements in District A on Feb. 25.
Houston City Council member Brenda Stardig of District A opened the meeting and introduced a panel of city officials who gave reports on Capital Improvement Plan projects covering public works and engineering, parks and recreation, and general services.
Steve Francis, an analyst with the city’s Finance Department told the audience that the CIP is a five-year plan updated annually to address the asset needs of the city. Currently, there are 400 projects in the CIP, with almost half of those in progress, and 120 scheduled for the coming years. The plan helps the city forecast long-term needs and helps predict the use of resources, he added. The current CIP budget is $1.2 billion.
Dale Rudick, deputy director of Rebuild Houston said the city has a history of “underinvesting” in streets and drainage, but added that things are going to change to make Houston “the envy of other cities.”
The total miles of the city’s streets surpass the total of all the highways in Texas––a massive amount of infrastructure, he said.
“We’ve been investing as if we could get 150 years out of a structure instead of 50,” he said. The city has been paying off a $1.7 billion debt prior to the creation of Rebuild Houston, he added, but debt is not an option under the new four-point funding plan. Funding now includes the drainage utility charge, the developer impact fee, ad valorem (property) taxes, and third-party funding, such as from Metro.
Projects in the five-year CIP plan are identified and rated in a database that helps the city prioritize the most critical needs, he said.
Mark Ross of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said the city has 37,000 acres and 366 developed parks, 18 of which are in District A. Some of the improvements forthcoming are a new playground in Agnes Moffitt Park this summer, he said, and the 20-year-old playground in Cullen Park will be replaced. Parking improvements in Hayden Park are also planned. Schwarts Park had improvements last year, but additional work on the pool house is scheduled.
Ted Hague of the General Services Department said there is $1.3 million in improvement work underway now in District A. Fire Station #66 on Teague Road is undergoing $150,000 worth of renovations, and the Ring Library on Long Point is having its roof replaced, he said.
Daniel Menendez, a deputy director in the Public Works and Engineering Department addressed improvements to water and wastewater systems, storm sewers and traffic signs and signals. In District A, 21 miles of overlay have been completed on streets, 63 bridges have been repaired, and water line replacements have resulted in a 13 percent decrease in water-related complaint calls, he said.
Two of the street and traffic control projects slated for 2014 are paving and drainage improvements along Brittmoore between Hammerly and Clay and along Long Point from Pech to Hollister.