Weatherford Democrat

May 15, 2014

Blazing a trail?

Hike and Bike Trails look to be expanded


Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD —

By BRIAN SMITH

Expansion of Weatherford’s Hike & Bike Trail is expected, if city officials can get a grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes told council members at Tuesday night’s meeting the COG asked for what it called “alternative transportation projects” earlier this year for an 80/20 transportation alternative program. Eligible projects include multi-use trails, according to a staff report.

The extension project, known as the Town Creek Hike and Bike Trail Phase II, would include multi-use trails, bridges, signals, signage and adequate lighting, Hughes said. It would extend the existing trail north from Holland Lake Park through some city owned property to Washington Drive.

The estimated cost is $1,447,358, of which the city would be responsible for $289,473. Hughes said because some of the proposal lies in a flood plain, bridges would be established. Local funds for the project, if approved by the COG,would be taken from the city’s Storm Drain Utility Fund and paid back at a later time.

Council members voted unanimously to authorize city manager Jerry Blaisdell to nominate the proposed extension to the COG for consideration. 

Hughes said Wednesday no decision on the funds will be made until September with work on the extension not commencing, if approved, until sometime next spring.

In other news during the hour-long meeting:

• Approval of the first reading of an ordinance for the voluntary annexation of 178 acres of land along Ric Williamson Memorial Highway was approved. Parker County officials deeded the land to the city earlier this year, which needed to be done so the city could maintain the right-of-ways.

Second and final readings of the ordinance are scheduled for a special meeting Friday at noon.

• Council members also discussed a budget retreat for planning the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget. Budget and Strategic Planning Manager Kyle Lester said city staff will continue looking and trying to follow the city’s Strategic Plan when making budget decisions.

Lester said the focus on this year’s budget is to provide a competitive pay scale with other similar sized cities and to locate potential street funding. A “sneak peak” of the budget is scheduled for June.

Blaisdell said the goals and priorities of the plan are still the same and any changes should be made before the city gets into the budgeting process.

Council member Heidi Wilder said she felt the council did a disservice to the staff last year, who were under the assumption the council would be increasing the tax rate, which it decided not to do. Because of that, Wilder said the staff had to backpedal and realign the budget.

“I see the value of having a retreat and ensuring we’re all on the same page,” Wilder said.

A work session is expected to take place at a later date.