The Lufkin City Council continued talking about the Capital Improvement Plan on Tuesday.
The discussion focused on the need to determine a definitive project list and create the order for moving through each project.
The city hopes to issue a $5.2 million bond to cover nine projects in 2020 and to issue another two bonds in 2022 and 2024 for another seven projects.
No CIP votes were held at this meeting; a vote is planned for the council meeting at 5 p.m. Dec. 17.
The discussion opened with the only public comment, which was made by Patricia McKenzie, who said she struggled to find many of the items the council discussed in their last meeting about the Capital Improvement Plan.
The city determined what goals they hope to accomplish using recommendations from the 2018 Comprehensive Plan and those garnered from public forums and town hall meetings. It provides a rough blueprint for shaping the city for future growth.
City Manager Keith Wright said previously that all the proposed items came from the comprehensive plan and town hall meetings. After the public comment period ended, he said most could be found in the comprehensive plan, but did not elaborate.
“I don’t know the list or page number, but we can get it for you,” he said. “What we’ve concentrated on are things that are quality of life out of the comprehensive plan.”
He then asked council members to talk about their issues with the plan and what they want to see done.
Ward 1 council member Guessippinna Bonner raised several questions.
She asked first about the locations of the bus stops. She said a group of her constituents, who are nearly all elderly, rely on the Brazos Transit Authority to get around. She wanted to see a bus stop built closer to them and one that connects them with the new post office being built on Lufkin Avenue near the Angelina County Courthouse Annex.
Wright told Bonner that city officials, the council and Brazos Transit will all be working together to determine where the stops are most needed. He said he’s also heard that same opinion elsewhere.
She also asked about whether reconstructing Wilson Avenue was worth the cost when there are other streets in her ward that desperately need covered ditches because they had become a safety hazard.
Wright asked her to create a bullet-point list for this and said the city would look at that cost estimate versus the originally recommended project.
Ward 2 council member Robert Shankle said he agreed with Bonner about the bus stops. He then asked about the Jones Park Walking Trail, which would be in his ward, and about the bike lanes through town.
Wright told him that he would have a lot of input on the Jones Park Walking Trail because it’s in his ward. He also said that the bike lanes would start at the loop and go south through town from FM 819 to U.S. Highway 59. Changing the striping there and removing the right turn lanes would create the bike lanes, he said.
Ward 5 council member Rocky Thigpen brought up concerns about the parking that would be eliminated by the changes on First Street and Frank Avenue.
Wright said he hadn’t received negative feedback about that. He said the Frank Avenue changes would eliminate six parking spots downtown that are often seen as a safety hazard. He also said there are several underutilized parking lots downtown that people can use once those on First Street between Shepherd and Lufkin avenues are gone.
Engineering services director Kevin Gee said the city will be working with the Texas Department of Transportation on the changes to Frank Avenue but believes the benefits of the raised medians could outweigh any safety concerns people have with them.
Ward 4 council member Mark Hicks raised his concerns over the Jones Park trail and Morris Frank Park. He wanted to know if the trail was truly asked for and going to be utilized. Shankle said his constituents have been asking for something like it in his ward since he took office.
Hicks also wanted to know if it was worth putting the money into Morris Frank Park. Wright said it was because the other option was to build a new park, which would be more expensive. Bonner added that residents also wanted a community football field.
Ward 6 council member Sarah Murray said she would like to see renovating Kurth Memorial Animal Shelter move up on the list because it is 21 years old and in need of repair.
Wright said each council member will have an opportunity to speak with him in a one-on-one conference before the next meeting. Thigpen and Bonner said they would bring an itemized list of the changes they would like to see.
The council also:
■ Postponed the zone change of 10 lots on 1707 Wallace St. and 202-211 Sybil Drive to “Commercial.”
■ Approved a resolution suspending the effective date of the proposed CenterPoint rate increase by 90 days.
The council also approved on first reading, following a public hearing:
■ Changing the zoning of 412 N. First St. to “Central Business.”
■ The closure and sale of an alley bounded by Elsie Street.
■ A budget amendment to provide supplemental funds to the general fund, zoo building fund, general fund building fund and the water and wastewater fund.
■ A budget amendment to accept a donation from the Deborah Jones Estate for $17,815.99 for Lufkin Animal Services. Jones used to work for the city before she passed away and requested the money be used at the shelter.
■ A budget amendment to allow for the participation of the countywide radio system.