Discussion regarding plans for the voter-approved bonds occurred in open session with City Council on Thurs., Jan. 3 included a report from a citizen committee with priorities and recommendations for parks improvements, and recommendations from Planning & Zoning on streets and drainage project priorities.

The passing of Proposition A allows for the expenditure of $70 million for the construction and improvements of FM 1660 North and Limmer Loop, FM 1660 at U.S. Hwy 79, FM 1660 South and Front Street. The proposition also authorizes other streets to be determined as well as utility relocation, drainage improvements, sidewalks, traffic safety, and operational improvements, necessary rights-of-ways and other related costs.

The Planning and Zoning Commission met, prioritized the streets and drainage improvements, and presented their prioritization to the City Council as follows:
 Project  Estimate
 Cottonwood Creek Drainage     $10,000,000
 FM 1660 North at Limmer Loop  $2,000,000
 FM 1660 North at US 79  $2,000,000
 FM 1660 south at US 79/Front Street      $2,000,000
 Traffic Under/Over Pass      $32,000,000
 Pedestrian Under/Over Pass  $3,000,000
 Old Town Street Re-Construction      $16,950,000
 CR 137 Expansion/Improvements     $1,500,000
 Legends of Hutto Drainage 1      $200,000
 Legends of Hutto Drainage 2      $250,000
 Legends of Hutto Drainage 3      $100,000
 TOTAL     $70,000,000
 
The City Engineer reviewed the Cottonwood Creek improvements in a presentation – details of which can be found online. Although approximately $30 million in improvements are needed, the priorities allow the City to begin the improvement process and provide aid to the residents affected in this area.

The City is proposing updates to the three FM 1660 intersections as well as an under/over pass off of Hwy. 79 in preparation for future anticipated growth of more than 7,000 homes that are in the planning and permitting phase which will result in a 50% increase in total housing units north of Hwy. 79 and a 79% increase in total housing units south of Hwy. 79.

The redesign of the FM 1660 N intersection design will include a design for sidewalks on Limmer Loop leading up to Cottonwood Creek Elementary School. The sidewalk work was halted by the City Manager last fall in light of the Bond proposition to save taxpayer money and leverage future projects for maximum efficiency.

The under or over pass off of Hwy. 79 between CR 132 and CR 134 would create a north/south connection that avoids railroad delays and effectively joins the north and south side of Hutto. With planned development, Carl Stern would eventually connect to the underpass to pull traffic off of Hwy. 79 and FM 1660.  Hutto Police department is closely watching this development as it would positively impact staffing and service response to police calls north and south of Hutto and could affect their future communication center authorized in Proposition B.

The streets and drainage prioritization also included a proposed pedestrian bridge to allow residents on the south side of Hutto to enjoy the Co-Op District and other services on the north side of town including Hanson’s Corner, Old Town, and other anticipated new growth.

Next steps for the proposed streets and drainage projects is for the Hutto engineering department to present a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the City Council. The City Manager recommended starting design on all roads and streets proposed by the committee including each FM 1660 project outlined in the bond, Old Town, and drainage projects including Cottonwood Creek.

“The planning commission has done a yeoman’s job meeting throughout the month of December and going through details for prioritization so we can enter the design phase of the projects authorized by the bond,” said City Manager Odis Jones.

“I’m pleased to see the three propositions that our voters approved by a wide margin are being acted upon so quickly,” said Mayor Doug Gaul. “The City has mobilized and the plans we are discussing will certainly strengthen Hutto’s infrastructure, quality of life and public safety as well as strategically grow our economic development and vitality,” added Gaul.

Also discussed with City Council were the recommended park improvements brought forth by the parks improvement committee related to the Proposition C voter-approved bonds.

The passing of Proposition C allows for the construction, acquisition and development of infrastructure for parks and recreational purposes. This includes the construction of a recreation center and athletic fields. Following the citizen vote showing support for moving forward with park improvements, the City began the process of updating park plans by engaging the athletic associations and the community in a pubic participatory process to identify the park improvement priorities.

The Parks Improvement Committee included members from Hutto Youth Baseball and Softball Association, Bike Hutto, the YMCA, Hutto Youth Soccer, Madeline’s Sandbox, Hutto ISD, Hippo Club Wrestling, Hutto Parks Advisory Board, and Hutto Youth Football and Cheer Association. The parks improvement committee met three times in December, reviewed area parks and sports complexes, recent community charrettes and surveys, the needs assessment, and reviewed conceptual proposals for each Hutto park.

The committee ranked projects for each Hutto park as follows:
Fritz Park (400 Park Street) - Renovate youth fields, park restrooms, update Pavilion, add recirculating splash pad, and swings
Hutto Lake Park (805 Estate Drive) – improve entrance, parking and lights off of Chris Kelley; redo trails, add shade over play structures, improve lake, and add swing sets
Hutto Park at Brushy Creek (FM 1660 S and CR 137)– Add restrooms, create a destination playground, add lights and parking, add a splash pad, and create dock access for kayak and canoes
Hutto Community Park (Country Estates Park, 514 S. Pauley Drive) – replace play structures and shade, upgrade the basketball court, improve the sidewalk trail for lap walkers, add swings, add lights and shade on basketball court
Glenwood Splash Pad (101 Fischbaugh Lane) – Add restrooms, shade and a new play structure
Creekside Park (305 Orchard Way) – Upgrade the youth fields, improve parking lot, and add sports field lighting

The parks improvement committee also discussed their recommendation for a feasibility study and parks master plan update to create a plan for additional future improvements at Hutto Park at Brushy Creek, land acquisition, design of a recreation center, design of a sports complex, and future parkland projects and trail development. As a next step, the committee will review its recommendations with the Parks and Recreation Board, who will then bring their recommendation to Council for approval at a future City Council meeting.

“It is clear that the park improvement committee members had the best interest of all of Hutto at heart as they came to agreement with their recommendations,” said Mayor Doug Gail. “Our boards, commissions, and citizen committees are essential to the City Council and we appreciate their dedication in informing the decisions Council will make moving forward with the Bond projects,” added Gaul.