• September 18, 2019

City begins debt projects designs - Odessa American: City Of Odessa

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City begins debt projects designs

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Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2019 6:00 am

The City Council approved taking on $93 million in additional debt Tuesday, and now begins the phase of design work for the numerous capital improvement projects that debt is expected to pay for.

Council members say the debt is being taken on to address needed capital improvement projects in the city. This includes a new fire station in north Odessa, a new animal shelter, the rehabilitation of Floyd Gwin Park and the widening of part of Faudree Road.

As far as a timeline for when these improvements will get done, City Manager Michael Marrero said they will begin the design phase on these projects to give them a better idea of what that will look like.

“ So fire and police and parks will begin work on their side, and all of that will be to begin the design phase on a lot of these projects,” Marrero said. “The design phase will really kind of set the real schedule, because we’ve got to look at what it will take to do certain projects.”

Certain projects, like the widening of Faudree Road from Highway 191 to Yukon Road, involve preliminary steps like right-of-way acquisition and design for drainage, Marrero said, so that phase will give a better idea of what the schedule will look like as far as its completion.

There was some concern expressed by former Council Member Mike Gardner over what the money would actually be used for, but an information sheet on the city’s website lists in detail what the money would be spent on and how much each project could cost, and Mayor David Turner said it’s stated in the writing of the debt issuance how the money will be used.

“ We’re gonna use it for what we said,” Turner said. “There is a little bit of uncertainty as far as how much everything is going to cost, because once you go out for bid you find out the exact numbers. We feel comfortable with those numbers and that’s what we’re going to use it for.”

There is a disclaimer in the information about where the money will be spent stating that the city reserves the right to prioritize projects based on costs and circumstances at the time of construction.

“ There was a little disclaimer that they presented that if we had something that happened to a road unexpectedly, through whatever cause, that that could be bumped up higher on that list,” District 3 Council Member Detra White said.

The only gray area for the debt spending right now, White said, would be possible construction costs.

“ Gardner was making it sound like we were going to take this money and spend it wherever, and that is not correct,” White said. “We have identified those funds for those specific projects, and the only thing that could be tweaked is going to be road repair if something comes up and one takes priority over some of the others.”

Turner said there were some facts they couldn’t even talk about before approving the debt issuance, like that the city is running out of ambulances. He said this couldn’t be talked about earlier due to rules about having to stay neutral about the debt issuance set by the city’s bond counsel.

“ There were three or four days we were running out of equipment,” Turner said. “With running out of ambulances and running out of equipment, that’s put us in a horrible bind and it hurts our insurance rates because they go off of run times.”

To help with those run times, the plan for fire includes a new fire station to be built on 87th Street in the Lawndale area, and a plan to rebuild fire station No. 6, currently at 3414 Brentwood Ave, at the intersection of Grandview and Maple Avenues, with additional bays for fire and EMS vehicles and an expanded fire marshal’s office and fire training division. The estimated cost for all of this is about $24 million.

There was a station near 87th Street about 15 years ago that was eventually taken out of service. Turner said this was due to the area not having a large enough call volume at the time, before the growth the area is seeing now.

More than $14 million of the debt will go to the Odessa Police Department, who have plans to expand their multipurpose building next to their headquarters, 205 N. Grant Ave., to move their police academy into the building for training, and the building would also act as a preparation area for SWAT, bomb squad and hostage negotiation teams.

Part of that money would also fund the building of a new animal shelter, after a large public outcry earlier this year for a new one due to the poor conditions of the current building. White said this new building would be built next to the old one, at 910 W. 42nd St.

“ That way there’s not any type of operational issue,” White said. “We can still operate the old one until it is built.”

Turner said the focus on Faudree Road is due to a problem of needing to get people away from 42nd and 52nd Streets and getting them over to Yukon.

“ Yukon is gonna be kind of a new main street and we have to be able to get people over from Faudree over to Yukon,” Turner said.

In addition to the widening of Faudree, Public Works Director Tom Kerr said some of the money would be used to improve roads along the Grant Avenue corridor downtown, related to issues like improving sidewalks, pedestrian access, drainage, gutters and parking. Of the near $43 million, some of that would also be used for the study and design work for widening and improvements to Dawn Avenue from 87th Street to Yukon Road, 56th Street from Faudree Road to Loop 338, and South Dixie Boulevard from I-20 to South Loop 338.

Kerr said construction costs aren’t included for those projects, but said as some developers move into those areas, they would be able to build their portion of the improvements to contribute to the cost, which he said they’ve done before with improvements to 87th Street.

Nearly $2.9 million is also being devoted to reconstructing city property downtown. This is due to the city having no room in City Hall for its staff any longer. Turner said they actually have some code enforcement officers working in closets. The building downtown will be renovated using money from the debt issuance, including cubicles and conference rooms, as well as installing an elevator and repairing the roof.

Renovations to Floyd Gwin Park will be the main focus for the Parks and Recreation Department, allocating about $6 million of their $9.1 million cut of the debt issuance to the park. Parks and Recreation Director Steve Patton said renovations would include walking trails, renovations to the baseball complex, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. Patton said they are also trying to budget for new basketball and tennis courts at Sherwood Park, where he said the current ones are unusable right now.

The remaining money for parks would be looking at building two neighborhood parks on the east side of town, Patton said, which have been in the making since the early ‘90s. Patton said the city owns a drill site in the University Gardens area near Oakwood Avenue where they are looking to build one of the parks, and the other site has a couple different locations they are trying to pin down but that it would be near Eastridge Road.

“ These sites have been promised now since the ‘90s so those areas are in desperate need for parks,” Patton said. “And I’m trying to fast track doing [requests for proposals] with consultants so we’ll have ones at hand.”

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