Public input has been duly taken, financial advice has been heard, and now West University has posted official notice that it’s planning to issue as much as $61.12 million in Certificates of Obligation to pay for a whole slew of infrastructure needs.
The package is branded as “Foundation for the Future,” incorporating the new Facilities Master Plan and other existing and planned projects, and repayment of the debt can extend for 25 years. Because the COs are the borrowing mechanism, voter approval is not required — although 5 percent of West U’s voters could petition for an election.
Many of the projects are already in their design stages. Here’s what the package will pay for:
- Consolidation of Public Works operations into one 21,000-square-foot-plus facility — including Animal Services — on the former recycling center property the city owns at Westpark and Dincans in the city of Houston. City Council has already approved a design contract for the complex, and construction is planned to begin next year.
- Contributing to the funding of the ongoing Buffalo Speedway Project. Begun in 2021, the project not only includes roadway upgrades along and near Buffalo Speedway but drainage improvements. Construction costs are exceeding the estimates made in 2019, and plans for a grant fell through, so part of the CO issue will go to fund the project.
- A three-stage project to bring the city’s drainage up to a minimum 10-year storm event standard, providing at least 50 years of service. This is based on a 2019 citywide drainage modeling study that found the city’s capacity seriously lacking.
- Several water line upgrades: Replacement of 17,700 linear feet of cast iron water lines throughout West U that date back to 1939 and are surviving on borrowed time. Also replacement of 14-inch cast iron water lines with 16-inch lines from the Milton water plan to Mercer along Milton, Auden and Rice Boulevards. And this package will also replace water lines along Edloe Street between Rice and University, install a new 6-inch line to serve West University Elementary School, and another on Amherst Street from Mercer to Poor Farm Ditch.
- Installation of a 48-inch water line in the 4100-4200 blocks of Law Street to allow properties to be switched from city of Houston water to West U’s distribution system.
- Upgrades to the city’s 40-year-old Wastewater Treatment Plan, including construction of an elevated office building, equipment upgrades, flood mitigation onsite, and improvements to efficiency of the wastewater treatment process to stay compliant with regulatory standards.
- Constructing necessary infrastructure to allow the the city to sell treated, non-drinkable wastewater to a third-party end-user. This is part of West U’s commitment to economic, environmental and social sustainability.
- Protective coating/painting of the city’s three Wakeforest storage tanks to protect the metal from corrosion.
Information on Foundation for the Future is available on the city website at westutx.gov/1408/Foundation-for-the-Future
Conserve water. We mean it.
Back on June 23, the city of West U put Stage 2 of its Drought Contingency Plan into effect, calling for voluntary water conservation to reduce consumption.
That meant adjusting watering of yards and filling of swimming pools or outdoor tubs — specifically a request to limit outdoor watering to the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Residents were also asked to check for and repair any leaks, as well — dripping faucets, running toilets, leaky irrigation systems and the like.
Usage actually went up, according to city officials. They issued another alert on July 27 reminding of the voluntary measures, and narrowed the suggested overnight watering schedule to 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
The drought is a state and regional problem, experts point out, not confined to the Houston area and not overcome with a few downpours, which the Houston area experienced toward the end of July. This year’s situation is exacerbated by the record high temperatures throughout the region.
West U’s Drought Contingency Plan and water conservation information is available at westutx.gov/342/Drought-Information. Questions and concerns can be directed to Mark Wahlstrom, 713-662-5873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.