During a series of City Council meetings held in November and December of 2021, department heads presented a variety of proposed Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) to Council Members. Approximately $170,000,000 worth of projects were presented during the 2021 CIP meetings which resulted in a breakdown of tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 projects with tier 1 projects being of the highest priority. The projects included the construction of a Central Fire Station, additional street improvements across the City, drainage improvements, and park amenities.
At the July 19, 2022 City Council meeting, after several months of public meetings and budget conversations, Council approved a resolution to set the intent to issue Certificates of Obligation or COs which would fund multiple tier 1 infrastructure projects.
One of the funding options proposed to finance a portion of the projects was the issuance of Certificates of Obligation in the amount of $21 million dollars replacing prior Certificate of Obligation debt that would expire in September 2022. In April of 2022, the City Council gave the City Manager and Director of Finance direction to proceed with the process for the issuance of Certificates of Obligation (COs) to fund various capital improvement projects that were deemed tier 1 projects.
A local resident submitted a petition in opposition of the CO issuance with over 1,000 names to the City Secretary’s office on Monday, September 19th. The receipt of the petition prevents the City from issuing COs without an election, so now those projects are unfunded. The City does not have adequate revenue to pay for all of these projects, so the project list must be reduced.
At Tuesday's City Council Meeting the City Council acknowledged the petition and canceled the intent to issue Certificates of Obligation. Mayor Jimmy Mize reminded the Council there are still multiple life safety projects that were included in the CO projects that need to move forward. City Council will be hosting a series of work sessions aimed at identifying ways to proceed.
The proposed CO addressed tier 1 capital improvement projects which are now unfunded and include the following:
Central Fire Station construction - This project would have allowed for the relocation and consolidation of Fire Stations 2 and 5 into a more centrally located area in close proximity to both Downtown Nacogdoches and the Shawnee neighborhood. Stations 2 and 5 are each 70 years old and do not provide adequate space and facilities for our firefighters to function effectively, nor do they provide many of the health and safety features of modern fire stations, including cancer prevention infrastructure. The City of Nacogdoches places the utmost importance on the health and safety of our first responders as well as our ability to efficiently respond to emergencies in our town. A fire station relocation study was conducted to determine the feasibility of moving from five fire stations to four fire stations while still providing the same service to our City. This study was presented to the City Council in March of 2021 and has been presented to community groups over the past year. By reducing the number of stations while maintaining the same number of firefighters we would be able to increase the national standard minimum number of firefighters on each fire engine from 2 to 3, enabling them to effectively do their job when they arrive at an emergency. The cost of this project is $8,080,000 including land acquisition, design and construction.
Park restrooms - The current park restrooms at Banita Creek, Mill Pond, McCrimmon, Ritchie Street and Lake Nacogdoches West parks were built in the 1970s and early 1980s. Most of these restrooms are in extremely poor condition or are no longer functional and have been closed to the public. The proposed restrooms would have allowed us to provide adequate, functional and ADA compliant restrooms to our residents. Five restrooms are budgeted at $1,320,000. The need for more and better restrooms in the parks was a common topic during the development of the Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Planning process, written in 2017.
Park playgrounds - This project included the design and construction of a new playground at Robert McCrimmon Park and Mill Pond Park park. These two playgrounds, located in the Southeast Ward, were installed in the 1980s and have not been updated since that time. This would have allowed us to upgrade our playgrounds to equipment similar to the new playgrounds at Pioneer Park, Pecan Park and Banita Creek Park. The costs of these two items are $480,000.
Storm system repairs and replacement - There are currently over 21 storm drainage projects needed across the City, with seven projects that are already designed and shovel ready. Adequate municipal storm drainage ensures stormwater drains efficiently off our roads and mitigates flooding damage to private property. $5,000,000
City-wide street repairs - This project would bring approximately 60 of our worst streets up to a level where they only require normal maintenance for a decade in the future $5,000,000. Funds from the existing Street Maintenance fee will also be used to make approximately $1,000,000 of additional road repairs each year.