Throughout the past few years, the city officials have seen many new residential developments make a home in Waxahachie and new businesses take shape. With more growth anticipated to come, city officials have created a new city engineer position

Filling that role is James Gaertner, who started just two weeks ago.

Gaertner is a licensed professional engineer and a certified floodplain manager from the state of Texas. According to Gaertner’s LinkedIn, page he has been involved with a wide range of projects, including municipal roadways, site development, drainage planning and designing, mapping and surveying and comprehensive plans for municipalities.

Gaertner said he sees his new role with the city as one that helps to shape the future in a positive direction and aides developers to help make their dream a reality.

“As developers want to develop their land, they will bring their plans here. We will review them to make sure they follow all of the city’s ordinances and engineering standard practices, and make sure that they take care of their drainage, water, sewer and streets,” Gaertner said. “We want to make sure that when the city takes (the infrastructure) over, it is not going to cause additional costs for the city.”

In his role as engineer, Gaerthner works with developers on issues that might come up and reviews plans to make sure a proposed development does not pose a health or safety risk, and will be a good fit for the city.

Before coming to the city, Gaertner worked for the engineering firm Halff Associates for the past 12 years. He also served as a consultant through Halff for the municipalities of Bridge Port, Lake Dallas, Copper Canyon, Double Oak and Hickory Creek.

“At first, I was going to be a computer engineer, but after spending time on the computer quite a bit and programing, I decided that civil engineering would be better where you can go outside and see things being constructed,” Gaertner said. “It has been really good because I have been able to design projects and see it from the beginning design to it being constructed.”

Gaertner said he is looking at the long-term future of the city by seeing how the growth affects the city’s infrastructure and how the thoroughfares are designed to facilitate more traffic.

Apart from his role at city hall, Gaertner spends time working of a piece of property he owns near Ennis, where he and his family installed 46 fruit trees. He hopes they will produce nectarines, plumbs, pears and figs and looks forward to doing some canning.

“We did pretty good this year for the first time. My wife is more of the gardener than I am,” Gaertner said. “We are going to be putting more animals on the property and putting together a rain watering and harvesting system and a pond as well to water the trees.”

City Manager Paul Stevens said city officials have talked about adding an engineering position for the last several years, but felt the timing was right this year. New businesses and the future expansion of I-35E increased the workload on the current city staff, and made the need for an in-house engineer even greater. Otherwise, there were instances where outside engineers were brought in to the city to evaluate work, Stevens said.

“He was the first one we interviewed and we were like, ‘This guy is great’ and he was. His qualifications were fantastic. What he did with Halff parallels with what we need to be done (here) internally,” Stevens said. “So the experience that he had really fit with what we were doing perfectly.”

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