Petitions signal green light for 2015-24 Services, Improvements and Assessment Plan
With forecasters projecting continuing growth of office space, employment and residents in The Energy Corridor, a majority of property owners in The Energy Corridor District have agreed to extend a mission of service that began with facilitating the widening of the Katy Freeway in 2001.
Petitions supporting The District’s 2015-2024 Services, Improvements and Assessments Plan were accepted during a public hearing May 22.
The District’s Board of Directors is expected to approve the hearing examiner’s report then adopt the 10-year service plan during its regular monthly meeting June 12. Far more than the majority of property owners required by state law to continue the management district’s services approved the petitions.
“The Energy Corridor District team is honored and excited to be able to continue its services for another decade,” explains Clark Martinson, The District’s general manager. “More people, buildings and traffic are on their way. The next 10 years will be an important time for The District and its stakeholders if we are to keep The Energy Corridor a premier place to work, live and invest.”
With The District’s current services plan expiring in 2016, property owners elected to prepare for growth now by implementing the 10-year services plan a year early. That, says Martinson, will help The District secure funding and grants to implement many of its proposed projects for the coming decade.
Leveraging millions of dollars
In fact, since The District was created by the Texas Legislature in 2001, it has leveraged $2.6 million of revenue into $42.7 million worth of projects for everything from intersection enhancements, highway improvements and sidewalks, to trails, trees, traffic light timing and transportation mobility solutions.
“Through strong regional leadership and proactive representation with local, state and national agencies we can create significant value for property owners, employees and residents,” Martinson says. “Our work to leverage those investments will become more critical as we transform from a conventional suburban area to a more densely developed urban place.”
The new 10-year service plan is estimated to generate approximately $49.8 million in assessment revenue. Grant revenue will add another $5.8 million, for a total income of $55.6 million. Assessments are based on Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) appraised property values.
The service plan dedicates 45 percent of funding to transportation projects; 25 percent to ongoing maintenance, plus enhancing and beautifying the urban realm; and 11 percent to security and public safety efforts such as The District police patrols – an increase over the current service plan budget.
“Our greatest need over the next decade will be transportation mobility and access,” says Martinson. “The first service plan prepared the way for the reconstruction of IH-10. The second service plan saw the opening of the new highway, HOV lanes and The District’s role in constructing and maintaining accompanying landscape, architectural and pedestrian/bicycling enhancements."
"The next service plan will expand transit service to areas where The Energy Corridor District workers live and work.”
Building a transportation network that responds to traffic congestion and serves the businesses in The District demands strong partnerships with key government entities including TxDOT, Harris County, METRO, the federal government and the City of Houston, explains Martinson.
“Substantial transportation projects such as extending Park Row require a long-term commitment,” he says. “Renewing the service plan now will allow us to continue providing the local match that will leverage public works infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.”
Transportation mobility a centerpiece
Two core mobility projects are proposed in the new plan – The Energy Corridor Circulator and an express commuter transit service from areas southwest, west and northwest of The District where many Energy Corridor employees live. The circulator is designed to provide high-frequency rush-hour service along Park Row, N. Dairy Ashford, portions of Eldridge Parkway, Memorial Drive and SH 6.
“Despite short-term energy market fluctuations, The District will continue to experience growth which can significantly affect traffic congestion,” says Martinson. “One strategy to deal with traffic is to provide dependable and convenient transit from home to work and within The Energy Corridor.”
Improving livability as the region grows will continue to be one of The District’s central missions.
“Creating safe, enjoyable places to walk and bicycle is important,” says Martinson. “Whether driving, taking a bus, walking or riding a bicycle, our roadways, sidewalks and trail system must be in excellent condition and designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists, as well as motorists.”
The new service plan will also enable The District to continue to promote The Energy Corridor, connect the community and enhance business development.
“We see the next 10 years as presenting opportunities not challenges,” says Martinson. “Projected regional growth will demand thoughtful planning and the ability to implement projects with tangible results. Our team will work diligently this summer to conclude the existing service plan projects and prepare to launch the next round of service plan endeavors in January 2016.”