City leaders received more than $5.5 million in requests for funding for the 2017-2018 budget from the various city departments. While many of the requests were for routine items and repair, ranging from new equipment, vehicles and personnel, one new project would bring new alternative transportation options to Denison.
Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow requested $18,000 in funding to start a bike share program in the next fiscal year. The request was a joint effort by Denison Main Street and the Parks and Recreation Departments.
During the city’s annual finance retreat earlier this month, Finance Director Renee’ Waggoner spoke briefly on the requests, which spanned more than 30 departments, projects and uses. Waggoner noted that these requests have yet to be vetted and finance officials will be meeting with department heads in the near future to discuss the requests.
“We have seen it in other cities and we felt it was the appropriate time to talk about it with the bike paths ongoing and the new park coming online,” Dow said Wednesday.
Dow was referring to ongoing work by the city to develop additional trail systems, including the proposed Katy Trail project that will attach to additional trails in the Gateway Village development near U.S. Highway 75 and FM 691. Dow was also referring to Texoma Health Foundation Park, the $17 million park complex being developed west of U.S. Hwy. 75 and Spur 503. Currently, city officials anticipate the project will be completed in summer 2018.
Under the bike share program, cyclists would be able to check out and return bicycles at three locations: downtown Denison, Waterloo Lake Regional Park and THF Park, once it opens. The initial system would start with 10 bikes split between the three locations, Parks and Recreation Director Sunny Mackey said.
Dow said the $18,000 budget request was based on an estimate provided by Zagster, a firm that specializes in organizing bike share programs. Dow added that she plans to consult with other firms to compare prices.
Mackey said Zagster was chosen as the initial base due to its specialty in providing services to small- to medium-sized communities. Mackey said she initially wondered whether Denison could support a system, but found out Zagster has serviced communities of similar sizes. Calls to Zagster Friday seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Mackey said the system would be automated using a credit card reader. Under the Zagster model, users will be able to use the bicycles for free for the first hour, with a $3 charge for each additional hour of use. Security, maintenance and upkeep would be handled by Zagster, while the city would receive a portion of the revenue from the program, she added.
When asked about the importance of the bike share system, Mackey said bringing it to the city would add another level to the city’s transportation options. Previously, Mackey said she hoped that the trail systems throughout the city would spread and interconnect, granting transportation options to cyclists and pedestrians alike.
“It is unique (to our area) but also needed,” Mackey said. “There are people out there in our community who don’t drive or rely on a car.”