Public safety, highway improvements and upgrades to the city’s parks are the big items the Waxahachie City Council is looking at as it finalizes this year’s budget.
The new budget will take effect Oct. 1 and council members spent most of Wednesday discussing the matters in a budget workshop.
A new police station
The city has been exploring the possibility of building a new police station for the past several years. The department has grown out of its current station, located on College Street, and needs additional space to grow.
At the July 6 city council meeting, the council approved a contract with Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects for the design of the new police station. The total cost of the project is $3,050,000.
“If anyone has been in the police station, it is very small. They are packed in there. We have been in the building for a long time. They have added personnel and we still have the same space,” said City Manager Paul Stevens. “We are, right now, looking for land. We have identified several spots across the city. So we are very excited about getting that project moving and continuing forward.”
The architecture and engineering on the project is expected to take a year to complete before construction work begins.
“The design process is scheduled to start in September. So this next year we will be heavily involved in the design process. The funding has to be there to pay for the architectural services and other services related to the project,” said Police Chief Wade Goolsby. “We are excited about moving forward and really looking forward to getting started on that.”
A new fire engine
City officials also hope to purchase a new fire engine through a bond to replace Engine 3 that is 10 years old . The cost of the new engine plus equipment is $717,250.
Fire Chief Ricky Boyd said Engine 3 has already cost the city about $36,000 in repairs this year and is currently out of service. If a new fire engine were purchased, Engine 3 would replace a 1994 fire engine as a reserve unit.
Interstate 35E improvements
City officials are evaluating how to fund improvements along Interstate 35E that are expected to start this year. The improvements will increase the number of lanes from four to six, replace three bridges and add aesthetic features along the 11-mile stretch. Some of these aesthetic changes include adding railing on the bridges that mimic the railing on the viaduct in downtown, lighting and walls that mimic cut stone and feature the city’s logo. The city council approved a funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation at the July 6 meeting for $142,960. With the addition of streetlights on the bridges the city’s total portion is $254,000. The total cost of the improvement project is $138 million.
Parks and rec improvements
Lee Penn Park, located in the 400 block of Getzendaner Street, could also see several improvements.
“One of the biggest highlights of the budget is the improvements to Penn Park itself,” Stevens said. “We are looking at redoing the playground, building a pavilion, redoing the parking lot and putting in lighting. It is going to be very nice. We have budgeted $600,000 for that work.”
The new pavilion will replace a youth center at the park that was damaged twice by fire. The building was previously the home to “Rock Solid Boxing.” The city was in the process of getting bids for the repair work to allow the boxing gym to reopen when the fire happened in January 2014.
The next meeting for the budget is scheduled at noon on Aug. 6 at city hall. City hall is located at 401 S. Rogers St.