The Denison City Council recently gave the green light for city staff to begin pursuing bonds for upcoming street and water system improvements.


During its meeting last week, the city council approved publication of intent to pursue up to $11.9 million in debt for projects in the current fiscal year.


In September, the declared intent to issue more than $26.1 million in bonds for these and other projects. However, economic uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic led the city to reconsider and scale down some projects.


“These are projects we’ve modified during COVID-19 for our economic situation,” City Manager Jud Rex said. “We are going to be moving forward with the $7.2 million for street projects exactly as planned previously. However, the water and sewer project we have scaled back from about $8 million to about $4.5 million in projects this year.”


This marks the second set of bonds that the city has pursued in recent months, following a $2.4 million bond for a new ladder truck and reconstruction of the West End Fire Station that was issued in April.


“Now we feel comfortable enough to move forward with our streets and some water and sewer projects,“ Denison Finance Director Renee’ Waggoner said.


The $7.2 million in street improvements will primarily be split between three projects. Portions of Loy Lake Road, Waterloo Lake Drive and Flora Lane will be reconstructed as a part of 2020’s projects.


Rex said that the majority of the water and sewer bonds will be used on connectivity projects that will increase flow and service to high-growth areas in west and south Denison. This will include redundancy efforts for Gateway Village, he said.


Nearly half of the $4.5 million in street projects will be focused on a pipeline along Theresa Drive, following the route of what will be the future Katy Trail. Other waterline projects will run along Flora Lane and Loy Lake Road, Rex said.


These and other projects were discussed earlier this spring during a budget update by city staff following the impacts of COVID-19 on the local economy. With many businesses shuttering during the pandemic, city officials anticipate significant shortfalls in sales tax revenues for the remainder of the year.


Among the projects that were temporarily slowed due to the pandemic was a series of improvements to Main Street under the Designing Downtown Denison program. In September, city officials called for issuing $10 million of debt for the first phase, but Rex said he does not anticipate the city issuing any more debt for the foreseeable future.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.