Henderson eyes projects to improve city services

HENDERSON (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Henderson is bustling with projects as it works with other entities to address issues such as infrastructure, economic development and safety.

The biggest project likely is a new elevated storage tank to serve the south side of the city. Henderson currently has three elevated tanks with a total elevated capacity of 1.25 million gallons. However, City Manager Mike Barrow said the south side of town is somewhat underserved.

The new $2 million project is estimated to be a 750,000-gallon tank — the biggest the city's constructed and one of the tallest, he said. It likely will serve 4,000 residents.

Barrow said the tank allows growth opportunities to the southeast because, thanks to a partnership between the Henderson ISD and the city, there are water lines by Wylie Elementary School that afford the city expansion capabilities with its water system.

"There's some property (close to Wylie and the sports complex) that has some very good characteristics for residential development," he said.

Additionally, Barrow noted that debt related to the new elevated tank is replacing debt that the city recently closed, and after a few years, Henderson will be decreasing its total debt for water and sewer.

Construction on the tower is expected to begin in February or March.


Henderson also purchased a National Guard Armory Building on Sand Avenue a few years ago, which will be transformed into a new police station.

Barrow said the city got the "very sound" 19,000-plus square foot building for $195,000.

At the time, the city asked residents what they thought the best use for the facility was, but it didn't get a lot of feedback.

Henderson then started looking at its own facilities and found there were issues with the old police department building and the property surrounding it.

"We really looked at our facilities, and if we're really going to dump (money) into the (old) police station (for improvements), is there enough room when we try to look 20 years ahead?" Barrow said. "It's probably smaller than what we need in 20 years … so when we looked at the armory, we thought it (would make) a good station."

The building also sits in a good retail area in the 600 block of U.S. Highway 79 North, so the city plans to convert the armory building into a new police station and would like to return the old police building to office space or the retail sector, where it could possibly bring in sales tax and get back on the tax roll, Barrow said.

A recent survey showed that 64 percent of residents were for using armory renovations for the police station, while 22 percent were against it. Barrow said that let the city know it was on the right track.

As far as the benefits, he said Henderson is not looking at the police station being any more central because city police cars typically act as the officer's office.

"Where the station is located and how it affects crime doesn't play into it," Barrow said. What it "has to do with is it is a good facility. We (also) really think having a station at (Lake Forrest) Park will help the park."

The building has the ability for a second floor, which could come years later and expand the total facility space to 24,000 square feet, he said.

"So it's really a good suitable building. It's going to suit the city well," he said.

The armory project is estimated to cost $1.4 million.

This summer, the City Council passed a work order for architectural services on the project. The city expects to go out for bid in November and move in around June.

At the same time the city is renovating the armory building, it will be constructing a restroom facility at Lake Forrest Park and making other park improvements.


Besides the tower and building renovations, Henderson also continues to work on streets and downtown improvements. It recently finished rebuilding South Evenside Street, which cost about $1 million.

"We've really taken an approach that if we can't say we can do this substantial work on this street and it last 18 years, then something (isn't) right, and that has caused us to rebuild a lot of our streets," Barrow said.

"A lot of our streets we've rebuilt in the last six years, we're taking that approach. We have confidence they will be in good condition in 18 years and probably won't have too much done to it for 22 or 25 years."

In the last 10 years, Henderson has spent about $9 million on street and drainage improvements. Over the next 20 years, it will spend about $22 million, Barrow said. It is currently looking at overlaying Richardson Drive, which runs in front of Henderson Middle School.

"We actually are going through a study now, (and) looking at what street is next…," he said. "We do have a plan, but that plan is constantly being adjusted."

Downtown, the city is working on multiple projects that focus on improved pedestrian safety and improved traffic flow.

Working with the Texas Department of Transportation and Southwestern Electric Power Company, Barrow said Henderson started talking about eliminating overhead power lines.

He said there is street lighting overhead that was there before the city put in ornamental lighting along its streets, and will soon eliminate the power lines.

He said the city also will get some replacement traffic poles and lights and is looking at improvements to pedestrian walkways.

"It'll look much more appropriate to the money the city has spent and property owners have spent making downtown what it is," he said.

"But most important is to improve traffic and (make it) more pedestrian friendly. There's a lot of traffic (there), (to the) tune of a little over 8,000 cars a day."

At the moment, Barrow said Henderson hasn't seen the necessity to go up on the tax rate because of the city's recent projects. However, it is raising its water rates, putting it at or below average when compared to other area cities.

The rate for a 5,000-gallon user will move from $21.90 to $24.15, and a 10,000-gallon user will move from $35.90 to $39.80. This means the water, sewer and garbage bill will go up 5 percent for a 10,000-gallon user.

Henderson Mayor Buzz Fullen said all the projects are part of a planning process that works well for the city.

"These are some of our long term goals that we started … years ago, and we're just now reaching those. We have things that are in the works for at least 10 or 11 more years," he said. "It's routine planning for us. … Consequently, we know what's to come. We know through our budget process what we can do or afford."


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