Anna officials make case for bond propositions

By Joshua Baethge
For the Anna-Melissa Tribune
The city of Anna would be able to fund more park improvement projects like the one at Sherley Heritage Park if Bond Proposition C is approved.

Anna City officials are hopeful that voters will approve a $58 million bond initiative designed to finance capital improvement projects. They say that the three separate propositions will help the city keep pace with its growing population’s needs. 

Proposition A would fund a second fire station near the future Hurricane Creek Development West of US 75 and north of FM 455. That area will eventually have close to 3000 housing units in close proximity.  City Manager Jim Proce says that the best way for the city meet the national response time standard of eight minutes or less is to have stations as close as possible to the city's current developments.  

The current fire station is on the other side of town.  Fire crews would have to traverse some of the city’s busiest areas in order to reach these new residents.

“Our next logical step is to have something on the other side of 75,” he said. “We need a station to better react over there, plus we also take a lot of calls on the highway.”

Land for the new fire station was gifted to the city by Hurricane Creek developer Centurion American. Proposition A would also allow for the purchase of a new ladder truck.  Fire officials say this will be critical to combating a variety of fife the department faces both now and in the future.

Library Could Bring Downtown to Life

Speak to just about any city official and they will tell you that one of the things they have been asked about the most is when will the city get a library. Bond Proposition B would make that a reality.  The facility would be located in the new municipal complex being built on Highway 5 near the current Anna fire station.

The Anna Fire Department recently added a new brush truck to its arsenal.  If Anna Bond Proposition A is approved, the department would get a second fire station along with a new ladder truck.

Those who haven’t been in a library for a while may be surprised to learn all the needs they serve these days. It's much more than a place to check out books. There would be programs to help students learn things like robotics, coding and 3D printing. Public internet would be available for the community along with other technology amenities.  The facility would also have multipurpose space for classes, meetings and recreation activities.  Of course there would still be books, both traditional and electronic ones.

From an economic standpoint, Proce says that the library could also serve as the catalyst for more downtown development.  There is plenty of space for businesses to use, but investors may be wary of committing to an area that hasn’t come close to reaching its full potential.

“Nobody is going to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars if it doesn’t appear to be stable,” he says. “The library will bring people down there.”

Answering the Call for More Amenities

Similar to the library, many Anna residents have been clamoring for more parks, recreational programs and facilities. Parents with kids who play sports often lament the fact that they have to go to neighboring communities to compete.  Proposition C in the bond package would address this by earmarking $28 million towards park and recreational goals  

According to a study conducted by Texas A&M University a few years ago, having parks in the community adds value to homes and helps them retain value.  Proce says that one of the biggest challenges of a growing city is giving residents more things to do closer to home.

Anna City Manager Jim Proce

“If you look at the great cities in our county they have unbelievable park systems,” he says. “They are places for people to go and do things. Whether that’s a dog park or a playground, swimming pools or a ball field, it’s all activity-driven.

From a business standpoint, Proce also says the timing of the bond election makes sense.  It’s a tool for the city to finance capital improvement projects similar to mortgaging a home. Interest rates are still hovering near record lows and construction costs continue to rise.  Realistically, it would be next to impossible for the city to save $58 million without imposing a significant tax hike.  But even if Anna was able to do that, by the time it did so, the amount required to fund the proposed projects would likely be much higher.