Waco residents can use an online tool to show how they would spend the city’s capital improvement funding.
A city site using the Balancing Act tool lets residents tell city officials which projects should be funded with $26 million of the $50 million the city plans to spend on capital improvements in the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins in the fall. About $24 million of the projected total will be needed for projects already underway.
Possibilities for the rest include two-story renovations to the Waco Police Department headquarters, construction of a new crime lab for the department, and new or expanded parks in areas covered by the Dean Highland or Neighborhood Associations. West Waco.
The Police Department projects and Dean Highland Park are capital improvement proposals that have not been included in the capital improvement plan for the current year. Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Cook said both neighborhoods are underserved by existing park facilities.
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“During this process, we will review community feedback and consider it as we plan for the next five to 10 years,” Cook said.
Residents can also use the tool to submit comments on proposed projects or submit their own ideas, giving city staff a clearer idea of what the public wants.
Residents have been calling for a park with more amenities in the Chapel Road area since 2019, said Kim Kazanas, head of the West Waco Neighborhood Association. Those conversations gained momentum after District 3 City Council member Josh Borderud was elected to the council in 2020.
Kazanas said residents chose Chapel Park as a site that could be expanded into a park with more amenities. The park next to Woodgate Middle School now has a wading pool, a small gazebo, and a paved path. She said there weren’t many places for children to play in the area.
“There are a lot of young families,” Kazanas said. “So these quality of life issues in West Waco are our priority.”
The boundaries of the West Waco Neighborhood Association extend southwest from the intersection of Highway 84 and Highway 6 and encompass much of Waco territory between Hewitt and Woodway, encompassing Chapel Road at the west to Ritchie Road and encompassing subdivisions on both sides of Ritchie Road south to Warren Road. .
Residents of the Dean Highland Neighborhood Association, meanwhile, have also been adamant about their desire for a park, and community gathering space in general, for some time, said Emily Hinojosa, head of the association.
“(At our last meeting), people wanted different things, but they were unanimous in wanting public and community spaces,” Hinojosa said. “It was good for our neighborhood to start talking, because we know they will come to us at some point to ask our opinion.”
That sentiment was reinforced when the neighborhood’s former Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center was demolished, though the 14-acre site remains privately owned and no plans have been announced for the space.
“There were a lot of ideas for things that could go there,” Hinojosa said.
Waco Budget Director Nick Sarpy said the Balancing Act public input tool for the capital improvements budget has garnered more than 110 responses since two weeks ago and will remain open through March 21. The budget office will collect the results and share them with other cities. Staff.
Sarpy said the purpose of the tool, which amounts to a budget simulation exercise, is to put Waco residents in the shoes of budget staff, weighing projects against each other and deciding priorities.
“There is a compromise,” he said.