The Waxahachie City Council and Waxahachie ISD board of trustees met in a joint session Thursday evening, discussing changes that are happening within the city and district.

“Well, depending on where you’re driving, you may or may not have seen a lot of the construction that is taking place within the city. First we have the Waxahachie Senior Center that is under construction and will be opening up in March,” City Manager Paul Stevens said.

“We are just beginning phase two of the sports complex expansion that will include four new ball fields, a running track around the football field and updated restroom facilities,” he said. “Also, there is an area at the sports complex that is going to be the future site of tennis courts.”

Growing population

City director of planning Clyde Melick talked about the growth that is occurring, noting that the city’s population has just passed the 30,000-mark. A 3.7 percent growth rate is projected, he said.

“A person with a median-level income makes around $43,000 a year and over the last two years we have seen a flurry of plats for subdivisions taking place,” Melick said.

“Recently, however, that has slowed down quite a bit, but there are still plenty of available plots to build a home on,” he said, noting about 859 residential lots are platted, of which about half have been built on. Growth has occurred around the new schools and in several subdivisions, including Buffalo Ridge and Clift Estates.

Waxahachie also is experiencing business growth as seen by newcomers Austin Road and Bridge, Best Buy, ShowBiz Cinemas, Ross and Firestone.

Tyler building update

Board trustee Max Simpson inquired about any recent developments with the old Tyler Refrigeration complex. 

“Right now, they are working on a cleanup process with the site. We have asked developers what they can do with the site and they haven’t really been able to come up with anything,” Stevens said.

“When the cleanup is done, you could essentially develop homes onto the site, but Tyler has expressed an interest not to do that,” he said. “Currently, it is zoned for heavy industry and Tyler does not want to see it go back to that. We could possible use the land to create a public park or something of that nature,” he said.

Fire Chief David Hudgins provided an update on a future station for the department.

“Right now, we have purchased around three acres on Wyatt Street for a new station. The good thing about this property is that it will have good access to U.S. Highway 287 Bypass and provide better flexibility,” Hudgins said.

“Also with this new station, it will take and lighten the burden of the station over on YMCA Drive,” he said, adding, “The year before last we were also able to add another engine company to the department.”

The city plans to continue ambulance service with East Texas EMS and those two ambulances will be permanently stationed in the city, he said.

Road projects in progress

City director of public works Jeff Chambers discussed construction on Broadhead and Parks School House roads.

“Currently, the project is on schedule for the Broadhead project, but earthwork determines the time line for construction. This is because you have to use the dirt from the old road to make the new road. Completion is expected to done by mid-September,” Chambers said.

“The project on Parks School House has been a little bit delayed because of some of the issues with acquiring rights of way for the project. The time line for completion on that project is now around November.”

Board trustees expressed a safety concern to the city about the Broadhead Road overpass that crosses U.S. Highway 287, saying that children are using the bridge to cross the highway. The bridge provides no sidewalks for pedestrian traffic, which poses a very high safety risk, they said. 

Councilman John Wray suggested that since the overpass belongs to the Texas Department of Public Transportation that both the city and the district pass a resolution expressing their concern and pass that on to the state agency.

WISD enrollment

School superintendent Thomas Collins said enrollment is up from last year by 110 students, bringing the total enrollment to 6,646 students. He also noted that Kansas City Chief player and Waxahachie High School alumnus Brian Waters was starting an after school-tutoring program at Turner Middle School. Waters and his 54 Foundation will pay for the four teachers who will work with students needing an extra push to succeed. The program will be held from 4-7 p.m. each day.

District director of public relations Nicole Mansell said WISD was taking a different, pro-active approach on the issue of bullying.

“The district is embracing a new tradition with a program called ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ to combat bullying,” Mansell said.

“Although the district does not have a problem with bullying, we just like to be proactive in our approach,” she said. “This program is to encourage students to treat each other with respect and kindness.”

Deputy Superin-tendent David Truitt said the district has had a banner year in sending students to compete in Austin in the areas of academics, fine arts and athletics, also noting the accomplishments of band recently qualifying several students for regional and all-state honors.

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com