Houston ponders capital projects
The summer construction season coincides with the wrapping up of the city budget in August with the city looking at projects to start that would give aldermen the most bang for their buck.
“I would like for us to get something done in each ward,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “We don’t have a lot of money but we need some priorities and that’s why I’m coming to you.”
Parker said each ward could look at spending around $8,600 but that was not a hard and fast number.
“I would like to see us do something up at the Community Center and around Legion Lake,” said Ward 3 Alderman Frank Thomas. “Maybe something where we could offer camping or at least picnic tables.”
Parker said part of Legion Lake is owned by the American Legion and clearance would have to be obtained before doing any work there. Parker said work on the city park at the community center could probably be done quickly and cheaply.
Ricko Nichols, Houston Street Department superintendent, said the community center needs a roof and there are drainage issues in that area. He also pointed out the bottom line is how much you want to spend.
Thomas said he wanted to see the city help with improvements along the Tanglefoot Trail specifically the gateway off of Highway 8 at Daniel Boone Street.
Parker said while the original plans called for the Tanglefoot Trail Foundation to pay for gateways, cost overuns to pave the trail and get it in service ate up that money.
“They are still trying to get federal money to build the gateways,” said Parker. “I will say that everything I’ve heard is if we are waiting on that federal money we may be waiting a while.”
The city has already built a gravel parking lot and cleared brush around the end of the trail. Parker said the idea of putting some kind of parking lot or sidewalk closer to the Highway 8 bridge was also being discussed.
“I think we need to do something to direct people downtown,” said Parker. “Everything I’ve heard about the people who get off the trail is they want something to get off the trail, get a bite to eat, get something to drink – and I’m talking a cocktail or something like that – and then they want to go.”
Parker said the city could build something as simple as a 20X20 foot pavilion or a sidewalk that would bring cyclist downtown.
“The museum has shown us what can be done with a couple of pine trees and inmate labor,” said Thomas. “I would like to see that area improved. I think it would help Houston a lot.”
Ward 2 Alderman Shenia Jones said she wanted to finish up work on Chestnut Drive before embarking on other projects.
Nichols said work on Chestnut Drive has dramatically improved drainage in that area and most homeowners are happy with what the city has done in digging ditches in front of each house and installing culverts at each driveway.
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