Many projects to come in 2022 for the municipal council of Abilene

There is “a lot” that City Manager Robert Hanna has said the city and city council of Abilene plan to tackle in 2022, as the valuable lessons of 2021 linger into the New Year.

The most important elements include a potential street bond and securing funds for a new animal shelter.

Also important, Hanna said, is the potential for improvement in some of the city’s recreation centers, with Cesar Chavez Recreation Center on Ambler and GV Daniels Recreation Center on North Eighth Street as potential targets.

These two facilities, Hanna said, are examples of properties nearing “end of life.”

When the tally is done, “it may be cheaper to just build new,” he said, especially since any rebuilding should be “pretty dramatic”.

When the board retired nine months ago, a number of ideas were floated for improving recreation facilities, some with more than one phase – and prizes running into the millions.

“I think the board supports the concept,” Hanna said Monday. “… It just depends on the costs.”

Following:All Kind Animal Initiative, the city of Abilene teams up for a state-of-the-art animal shelter

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Find shelter

A kitten stretches and yawns at the Abilene Town Animal Shelter in March 2021.

The Abilene Animal Shelter has been a topic of discussion for a few years, Hanna said.

The city recently announced a partnership with the All Kind Animal Initiative. The association is working with architect Tim Rice McClarty to rework the design of an adoption center initially presented to council in early 2020.

In mid-December, Tim Yandell, chairman of All Kind’s development committee, said the group is planning a public-private partnership with the city to discuss with individuals, foundations and individuals the collection of 10 to $ 12 million for a new installation.

“Finalizing the location, securing the land (and) setting up a fundraising campaign are, I think, all critical for 2022,” Hanna said.

The rhythm of the street

Street repairs will remain a priority for Abilene City Council and the city itself over the coming year, including discussion of a possible bond election.

In recent years, the city has made a concentrated effort to repair the streets, allocating money from monthly business and residential fees and drawing funds from other sources.

The council started launching tires on a possible street bond in 2021 and may take the idea for a ride in 2022, Hanna said.

“How tall will he be? I think that is still open for discussion,” he said.

The board can set certain parameters.

“Usually when we go through a voter surety process in front of the voters, there’s a ‘blue ribbon committee’ that has a little bit of autonomy,” Hanna said, in an attempt to help identify projects.

“I see this process unfolding in early 2022,” he said.

The council has “not yet given formal direction,” Hanna said.

“But they were open to the idea,” he said. “… So we’re going to give them some options.” “

The city will soon have a new overview of the situation of its streets from a road condition survey carried out by Fugro USA Land.

In 2017, a study by the same company estimated that the streets of Abilene needed $ 377 million worth of work, which kicked off current repair and rehabilitation efforts.

A new study was approved by the board in July at a cost of $ 217,210.

Hanna expects results in early 2022.

Stormy weather

A water utility worker in the town of Abilene shovels mud while standing on a leaking water pipe near the corner of North First and Willis streets.  Leaking pipes and heavy usage on Saturday were draining the city's water supplies after the February ice storm.

The winter storm in February was “a huge lesson,” Hanna said, and will affect future board discussions.

During the July budget discussions, council heard of potential plans to help “beef up” the city’s water system after the winter storm temporarily interrupted service.

But increasing overall resilience, which had been 99.95% in the past 10 years and 99.99% in the past 50, would be difficult, officials said.

“We’ve put our numbers together to provide self-sufficient power, and it goes anywhere from $ 14 million to $ 25 million, depending on the system we’re looking at,” Hanna said.

It’s a lot of money, he says.

“And that’s a lot of money to spend on something you might not need for another 50 years,” Hanna said.

But it could, he admitted, be “necessary next week,” underscoring the mercurial nature of the weather in West Texas.

“We have (price to put) temporary generators there, and it’s between $ 2 million and $ 2.5 million,” he said. “So we are not prepared to spend this money today.”

Ideally, the costs, especially for the more expensive options, would be absorbed over a period of five to ten years, Hanna said.

“It makes sense to look at this over time, especially if we’re going to modernize our factories anyway,” he said. “It makes sense to make sure we have redundant power supplies.”

City manager Robert Hanna on Monday evening urged Abilenians to take care of each other during a "unprecedented" emergency weather and boil water as soon as it becomes available.  Lack of power generation shut down all three Abilene water treatment facilities in February.

The city presented an emergency preparedness plan in March to the Texas Environmental Quality Commission.

“We are going to follow what the TCEQ demands, of course,” he said.

But even though backup generation isn’t necessary, Hanna said, the board is “still thinking about doing it.”

“We have heard the citizens loud and clear: no one wants to relive this,” he said.

Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for Abilene Reporter-News. If you enjoy local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.


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