Here’s a truth for you: Anna is growing quickly. That is no secret to those who live and work there as new housing permits are up, water and sewage usage is up and roads are being widened. There is also notable infrastructure growth (water and sewage) going on to keep up with the rising demand.
"When I arrived here, nationwide we had a pretty significant housing recession," said Anna City Manager Philip Sanders. "We’ve spent the past several years trying to maintain what we have without taking on too much additional financial obligation. Then, about 18 months ago, housing started to pick up again. Now we’re switching our mindset; we have to build stuff to keep up."
Sanders reports that the city has received 215 new permit applications for home construction since January; 330 were filed in all of last year. New plats are being considered for residential developments, as well, including one by Dick Skorburg south of town, just east of Hwy. 5. Phases VI and VII for Oak Hollow have also received preliminary plat approval, and that subdivision is poised to expand soon.
Gone are the days of excess lots around the city; now developers are searching for land on which to build.
455 Expansion Project
Word from the Texas Department of Transportation is that the expansion project slated for FM 455 is scheduled to start in the fall, though with TxDot no hard dates are provided. The project to widen 455 from two lanes to four will be a 14 to 18 month project. TxDot awarded the project to a contractor in March and granted a six-month construction delay to allow the utility companies time to relocate their utilities. The city and Atmos Energy have been re-locating those utilities to prepare for the project. Construction should begin when TxDot is comfortable that all utilities have been moved and it is safe for the general contractor to begin work. The completed project will feature turn lanes at the major intersections and a divided median running throughout.
City Office Expansion
As reported by Ken Gaidziunas in last week’s Tribune, the city is growing out of its current office space and will have to relocate some employees to newer facilities. The planning and finance department resides in an old, worn-out building with structural issues, so the need to relocate is a fairly significant one for that group. The plan is to relocate some of those employees to the building across the street currently housing the police and water departments and move the planning department to the public works offices north of town. Construction would need to be done on the public works building to create additional office space. This is a temporary solution as a thorough facilities analysis will need to be done for long-range planning. The current move is nine months down the road.
McDonalds Under Construction
A new McDonalds restaurant is under construction on FM 455 just in front of Brookshire’s. The location is noteworthy as the corporation chose to build in the city proper as opposed to building right off of the highway.
"I think it’s significant," said Sanders. "What it says to me is they recognize the market is big enough to really support a store without having to attract necessarily from a broader area."
Sanders reported that the city has also had an increase in retail development inquiries along 455 and Highway 75.
Slayter Creek Park expansion is ongoing with the water park being the primary focus of attention. Slayter Creek Park has been shut down since last week and is expected to open up again by Tuesday. The park has been shut down because fencing around the playground and splash pad was being installed along with irrigation. The splash pad had its concrete base poured three weeks ago and it has a 28-day curing period. Once that period is up, the concrete will be tested to make sure it meets minimum specifications for strength. A textured surface will then be laid over the concrete and sod added around the pad. The city has not set an exact date for the pad opening, but an educated guess might land the opening date somewhere around late August if all goes well.
A water park runs on — what else? — water, and when city officials were planning this project six months ago no one was thinking Stage 3 water restrictions. During the dry days of summer the city may have to limit use, whether that be days of the week it’s open or hours of operation. Anna does have an ace in the hole as it has a ground water resource available to it. Unlike McKinney, for instance, that is dependent on surface water, Anna can supplement surface water with ground water. Once that water comes out of the ground, however, its primary purpose is to meet customer demand, and recreational use is secondary.
"Water demand is somewhat predictable depending on the weather, and we just want to make sure we can support our customer demand first before we start using a portion for a splash pad," said Sanders.
Surface Water Blending
Anna officials hope to begin to blend treated surface water with its ground water later in the week or even next week. The water main breakage suffered a little more than a week prior has no impact on the surface water blending, though if it had happened after the blending was done it would have been easier on all involved. The project is a multi-phase one: Phase I is underway, Phase II will involve bringing treated surface water to an elevated storage tank west of the high school, and Phase III will involve bringing the water to an elevated storage tank at the north end of town and also involve construction of a new ground storage tank.
On a related note, the city will also have a major waste water transmission main being constructed from its existing waste water treatment plan that will run south to the North Texas Municipal Water District wastewater system. It is in the design stages now and should be under construction before the end of the year. The line will help the city to divert wastewater as it grows to keep up with demand.
Voting for the Place 6 city council seat is down to the final days. Early voting wound down on Tuesday and election day is on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at City Hall. The race is between Tiffany Burleson and Dick Dowd to fill the expired term left behind by former council member Becky Glover, who relocated to Washington state for her job.
"Any Anna resident who is registered to vote we encourage to come out and participate in the political process," said Sanders.
Anna officials will surely be glad to get this one behind them as it marks the third election in this fiscal year, and the city foots the bill for every election held.