Reorganization of Sustainability Efforts
After several years of using a council-appointed task force to assist the city with its sustainability efforts, it was determined that a different approach would need to be taken to complete the Green College Station Action Plan prior to the conclusion of the Department of Energy grant we received in 2009. The Action Plan, which will address energy efficiency, renewable energy, air quality, water conservation, protection of green areas and green house gas emission reduction as it pertains to the city organization, will be presented to the council for approval in 2012.
Using Department of Energy stimulus grant funding, Parks and Recreation was able to complete the installation of irrigation system upgrades and smart controllers as well as LED parking lot lighting and solar-powered trash compactors at Veteran’s Park and Central Park. Several pilot projects were also undertaken to reduce costs and promote conservation, including the use of nitrogen in vehicular tires, synthetic motor oil, retreaded tires on certain equipment and a lighter weight copy paper city wide.
A Safe, Efficient and Well-Connected Transportation System
The continued growth in population we have experienced in the last 10 years has placed immense pressure on our roadways. As a result, we have begun to take an aggressive approach to creating a multi-modal transportation infrastructure that can handle increased vehicular traffic while promoting alternative methods of transportation through land use plans that promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities. One of the most notable examples of this has been the University Drive Pedestrian Safety Improvement project undertaken by the city, TxDOT and the Northgate District Association. The project, which is already underway, will construct sidewalks and bike lanes, and create loading zones and a new pedestrian mall to improve the overall experience in one of the city’s most historic locations. Additional projects completed or underway include:
- The FM 2818 and Campus Village multi-use path, which will complete the existing path that runs from Texas Avenue to Welsh by extending it through the Campus Village development to Southwest Parkway.
- The completion of Hike & Bike Trail Phase I and the extension of the Bike Loop Project through the arboretum.
- The completion of the Victoria Avenue Extension, which includes bike lanes and sidewalks in advance of the soon-to-be-opened College Station High School.
- The completion of the Royder Road and Greens Prairie Trail Reconstruction to accommodate the new Greens Prairie Trail Elementary School, which opened in August.
- The completion of the Holleman Drive Extension, which provides a signalized connection from Jones Butler Road to FM 2818.
Restructuring Economic Development
As a part of the city-wide reorganization plan that was implemented in July, the Economic Development Department was dissolved and its responsibilities were transferred to the City Manager’s Office. It is now managed by a deputy city manager. Placing economic development in this office has allowed for a more efficient and effective handling of the city’s economic development activities. We’re already beginning to see the benefits of this decision as a number of major development opportunities are being actively pursued.
One of the biggest economic development accomplishments has been the development of the Inter-Local Agreement between the cities of College Station and Bryan for the future development of the Research Valley BioCorridor, which is located on approximately 196 acres of land on the western edge of the cities. Staff and members of the city council have worked tirelessly on the agreement that allows the cities to collaborate, develop and manage the environment for the growth of the BioCorridor. It is not an overstatement to say that this ILA and the work both cities have agreed to perform will lay the groundwork for what potentially could be the biggest and most important catalyst for economic growth in our community since Texas A&M was founded.
Addressing Community Development
The HOME and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs provided assistance to more than 3,300 eligible individuals and families in 2011 while also providing over $150,000 to seven local public service agencies, including the Lincoln Recreation Center and Kids Klub.
The Planning and Development Services Department continued implementation of the Central College Station Neighborhood Plan, completed the Eastgate Neighborhood Plan and also initiated the Southside Neighborhood and Wellborn District plans that should be completed in 2012. Additionally, subdivision regulations were updated and six new homeowner and neighborhood associations were developed.
The College Station Police Department continues to work on establishing connections with neighborhoods and individual residents through a number of new and expanded programs. In 2011, four bicycle officer positions were added to assist with the increasing demands of Northgate and other areas of the city. In conjunction with several other departments, Police also developed and implemented the City Watch Program, which uses city route drivers and work crews to help spot and report suspicious activity.
Investing in Parks
The Parks and Recreation Department completed four park improvement projects including Brothers Pond, Woodcreek, Tarrow and Bee Creek parks. The various projects replaced gravel, upgraded sidewalks and bicycle paths, added lighting, and replaced playground and athletic equipment. These upgrades will ensure that our parks are among the best and will continue to serve as a source of enjoyment and leisure for families.
One of the biggest stories in 2011 was the unprecedented drought and relentless heat that affected the state and placed an ever-increasing strain on utility systems statewide. Fortunately, due to the hard work of our Electric Utility and Water Services operators — and conservation efforts — the city survived the summer relatively unscathed.
- College Station Utilities hit an all-time summer load peak of 204 Megawatts on Aug. 28 and weathered several ERCOT emergencies without any significant system failures during the extreme heat.
- Water Services broke the historic monthly usage record in July and broke it again in August with more than 708 million gallons used. Prior to 2011, the highest monthly usage recorded was 600 million gallons in July 2009. Despite this, no new record for peak day usage was set and Stage 2 of our Drought Plan was never implemented.
Twin Oaks Landfill
Following several years of construction and some dispute, the Twin Oaks Landfill operated by BVSWMA, Inc., was opened in June, becoming the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified landfill in operation in the country. The $20 million landfill will serve College Station, Bryan and the surrounding area for upwards of 100 years given current projected usage.