Victoria City Council split on improvement priorities

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 2, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2013 at 11:02 p.m.

The City Council will have to pick one or the other when it comes to two multimillion-dollar street projects in north and south Victoria.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, the seven-member group remained split on the 10-year project to repair downtown streets and infrastructure and the need to expand Mallette Drive for growth.

To complete projects in other parts of the city, Public Works Director Lynn Short recommended delaying the $4.5 million Downtown Phase 3 Project until 2014 and the $8.6 million Phase 4 Project until 2017. The projects are designed to rehabilitate water and sewer lines in north sections of downtown and in the Olde Towne subdivision.

However, Councilman Emett Alvarez said downtown residents have been patient. He also wants to see Red River and Juan Linn streets added to the city's capital improvement plan.

"The fact that we're getting new water lines means I don't have to look at a glass of water and see sediment on the bottom," Alvarez said. "A lot of us have waited for a long time, even more in the downtown area."

Councilmen Paul Polasek and Tom Halepaska were in favor of moving Mallette Drive up on the priority list.

Since the downtown plan was adopted, Mallette Drive has seen a new school, construction on Twin Pines North and The Reserve Apartments as well as plans for a 600-home development.

Halepaska said Mallette Drive is a safety issue.

"It's a two-lane country road that's so narrow it's difficult to get two cars past each other," Halepaska said.

He said he does not see the potential for a 500- or 600-home development downtown.

Polasek added that he did not want to discount the needs of downtown.

"We'll get downtown done," he said. "I would really hope council would agree with staff on this one."

The city's staff will bring back more financial information at the April 16 council meeting, when members might reach a decision.

Short said engineering on Mallette Drive would cost $1.5 million and take a year to complete. Construction would cost $11.6 million and would start in 2015 if approved.

Councilman Joe Truman said he wants to get downtown off the city's "to-do list" before moving on to other projects.

Short said the bulk of downtown is complete.

"Staff would never recommend that we abandon that project," he said. "We recommend that we delay it a little bit so we can get some of these other projects done."

Councilman David Hagan said downtown has been on the radar as long as he has been on council. He was elected in 2006.

"I'd like to see us finish what we started," he said. "Mallette will be there next year, too."



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