The College Station City Council recently voted unanimously to authorize $82 million in certificates of obligation to provide resources for a new city hall, streets, parks, information technology, debt issuance costs and utility improvements.
About $42.2 million will go toward utility projects, with nearly $25 million allocated for wastewater work and another $13 million for water infrastructure improvements.
Assistant City Manager Jeff Kersten said Friday that the city has a number of infrastructure projects underway, with others on the way soon. He said most of the money will be spent over the next two or three years.
“The certifications of obligation that the council authorized us to issue is a way for us to borrow money in order to get those projects done,” Kersten said. “The money that we’re borrowing would be paid back over a 20-year period and will be used to help pay for a lot of the infrastructure projects in the capital plan and the capital budget that the council has approved last year and in previous years.”
The City Hall on Texas Avenue will be replaced by a new building on the same property. The funding was approved at an Oct. 15 council meeting. On Monday, the council approved $18.9 million in certificates of obligation. It has a total budget of about $33 million.
About $7.7 million will go toward work on roads and streets, and $8.46 million will be used — or currently is being used — for park projects and improvements. On Friday, David Schmitz, the director of Parks and Recreation for College Station, said much of the park allocation will be used for the upcoming Southeast Community Park and for Veterans Park, which is currently being renovated.
Schmitz said Southeast Park, which is currently 66.68 acres of mostly undeveloped land along Rock Prairie Road, will house softball and baseball fields, among other amenities.
“At Southeast Park, we’re looking at diamond fields — building combo softball/baseball fields with artificial turf infields and grass outfields,” Schmitz said. He said the first phase of the park, which officials hope will be ready for play in fall 2020, will include four fields, with longer-range plans for eight total fields.
Money for the parks comes from general funds, bonds and from hotel and motel tax funds.
Other parks projects listed include $1 million for Thomas Park rehabilitation, $250,000 toward work on the Lincoln Recreation Center’s basketball pavilion, and $200,000 for a Lick Creek Park shade structure. The council also approved, on its consent agenda, a $153,395 contract with Jamail and Smith Construction for upgrades at the Lincoln Center’s pavilion, drinking fountains at Lick Creek Park and concrete pads for benches at the Cove of Nantucket Park.
“This is a good time to get bonds, for one thing,” College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said Friday afternoon. “Even though we’re doing the $82 million in bonds, that doesn’t mean we’re spending all of that in the next week, month or even year. The bonds that were sold for the library expansion — that was done in 2008. So you wait until you have some good prices, but you buy the bonds and market them when the interest rates are as low as you think they’re going to be.”
Mooney also said he believes that investing in parks helps College Station remain true to its roots as it grows.
“Parks are a large attraction for what makes College Station the attractive city that it is,” Mooney said. “It’s a quality of life and a public safety factor, and there’s also other elements of family recreation and time together — and being able to see our city the way it originally was.”