From replacing bumpy neighborhood streets to building a new recreation center/branch library on the east side of town, the City of Arlington plans to invest more than $169 million in infrastructure over the coming year.The Arlington City Council adopted this year’s $68.8 million capital budget, $84.4 million water utility capital budget and $15.8 million stormwater utility budget at its February 28 meeting. Funding for many of the slated projects, including the future Hugh Smith Recreation Center/East Branch Library on New York Avenue, was approved by Arlington voters in 2014. The $236 million bond program, the largest in the City’s history, focuses on streets, parks, libraries and fire facilities. Other projects, such as water and sanitary sewer main replacements and erosion control plans, will be paid for using water utilities revenue and stormwater fees.“It’s important to continually invest in our infrastructure and facilities, just as homeowners and business owners maintain their properties. We also strive to provide up-to-date public facilities and amenities that offer resources and services that improve the community’s overall quality of life and address its needs,” Deputy City Manager Jim Parajon said.These projects align with all five Arlington City Council priorities: Champion Great Neighborhoods, Enhance Regional Mobility, Support Quality Education, Invest in Our Economy and Put Technology to Work.Here are highlights of some of the projects planned this year in The American Dream City:
Hugh Smith Rec Center/East Branch Library
A groundbreaking is expected in mid 2018 for the future Hugh Smith Recreation Center/East Branch Library on New York Avenue. The multi-function facility is the first of its kind in Arlington, and will replace the existing Hugh Smith Recreation Center, which was built more than 50 years ago, and the East Branch Library, which is the oldest and busiest of the City’s library locations.Active elements of the center could include aquatic features for swimming and training, a fitness center, a basketball court, group exercise space and a game room. Educational and other quality of life spaces are expected to include children and adult book sections tailored to support patrons’ interests, dedicated spaces for seniors as well as for the public to use technology.The $26 million facility, which will also feature a shared lobby, kitchen and community meeting rooms and outdoor amenities, is tentatively expected to open at Bob Cooke Park in 2019.Programming and space allocations for this facility are still being decided and improvements are also being planned for the park.
The next largest parks-related capital budget item for the year is $2.2 million for design work on the future Southeast Recreation Center and aquatic facility. Public input is still being gathered for this facility, set to open at Webb Community Park in late 2019. About $22.5 million is slated for construction next year.Other budget items planned for this year include $400,000 each toward construction of Deaver Park and Cravens Park renovations, $400,000 for the design of future Harold Patterson Sports Center renovations, $1,000,000 to design and realign approximately two miles of trails at River Legacy Parks because of Trinity River erosion issues, and $100,000 for the design of future Randol Mill Park renovations.
Enhancing regional mobility by keeping Arlington’s streets in good repair continues to be a priority for the City. More than $7 million to rebuild residential streets, with another $8.8 million for water and sanitary sewer line renewals that go along with those projects, is planned for the year.One of the largest street projects underway this year is the rebuild of Abram Street from Cooper to Collins streets through the heart of Downtown. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018 on the $18 million rebuild project, which will include water and sanitary sewer water renewals, sidewalks, streetlights, on-street parking, underground drainage, landscaping, architectural features, and installing a power source to facilitate special events held near City Hall and Founders Park.“Creating a more pedestrian friendly Abram Street will further help establish downtown as a safe and attractive shopping, dining and entertainment destination. This signature project not only complements the transformative projects we are already seeing, such as the new library, the 101 Center Street mixed-use development and growth at the University at Texas at Arlington, it will ideally spur more private investment and draw more visitors to our key downtown corridor,” said Bob Watson, Civil Engineer with the Public Works and Transportation Department.Other projects include $960,000 to design the rebuild of Eden Road from U.S. 287 to Calendar Road, $819,000 to design the rebuild of Harris Road from Cooper Street to Calendar Road and $793,000 to design the rebuild of Avenue H between SH360 to Great Southwest Parkway.
Water Utilities/Storm Water
Arlington Water Utilities and the Public Works and Transportation departments have significant water and sanitary sewer infrastructure upgrades, and drainage improvements and erosion control projects planned for across the city. These include about $21 million for water and sewer main replacements; about $40 million to update and extend the lifetime of equipment at the city’s two water treatment plants and delivery infrastructure such as pumping stations; $2.5 million for the continuation of the city’s meter replacement program and Advanced Metering Infrastructure installation; and $6.2 million for neighborhood drainage improvements.A portion of Arlington Water Utilities Capital budget will be funded by $5.6 million in financial assistance awarded by the Texas Water Development Board. The funds are a low interest loan through the Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. An $826,861 portion of the loan will be forgiven because Arlington’s plan for sanitary sewer main replacement qualifies as a “green” project. Using the Texas Water Development Board low-interest loan could save the city as much as $604,000 over the life of the bonds issued for the project.