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Belton plans $70 million in improvements | News

BELTON — Nearly $70 million worth of infrastructure improvements are planned in Belton over the next five years.

The projects range from as simple as improving the parking lot at the Belton Police Department and upgrading sidewalks throughout the county seat to multi-million dollar endeavors to push sewer lines farther south along Interstate 35 and standing up another water storage tank.

Those are just a few examples of the 38 undertakings detailed in Belton’s 2021-25 capital improvements plan.

“It does show that we have a lot of big dollar projects on the horizon,” Mayor Marion Grayson said.

City Manager Sam Listi said the plan is simply a schedule of projects. Those tasks, though, can rise and fall in the plan as the city identifies funding.

One of the more expensive projects in the plan is the second phase of the city’s South Belton sewer project. It is estimated to cost $6 million, according to the capital improvements plan.

Listi said the project is expected to begin in 2021.

When the southern sewer expansion is done, it will stretch from Holland Road to near the Lampasas River.

The first leg of the project — stretching between Holland Road to around the corner of Capitol Way and Grove Road — was completed in 2019 and cost about $2.5 million.

The Belton Economic Development Corp.’s $1.7 million I-35 water line project complements the sewer expansion. It is part of the capital improvements plan, and is scheduled to start in 2021.

“The I-35 water line — a big, important, priority project in 2021,” Listi said.

City officials are betting on the sewer and water line endeavors to spur commercial and residential development in South Belton.

“When developers want to come in, they’re going to want water and sewer lines,” Grayson previously said.

The city’s plans may already be attracting what officials wanted.

A developer is eyeing a nearly 500-acre tract along the Lampasas River as the site of a future large-scale subdivision. River Farms Development Team has proposed the planned residential development, which is in its early planning stages, could be a municipal utility district. That would allow the developer to finance the project.

Another municipal utility district is nearby — Three Creeks, a sprawling neighborhood off of Stillhouse Hollow Dam that is expected to have around 1,500 homes. The city of Belton provides water and sewer service to the district.

A third elevated storage water tank has been in the works for at least four years. It appears it finally may come to fruition next year.

The $3 million tank is planned to be constructed on a five-acre tract between Canyon Heights and Spring Canyon roads and north of Chisholm Trail Parkway.

“I know there have been some concerns about pressure in some parts of town,” the city manager said, adding the Public Works Department has made adjustments to ensure water pressure stays at a constant level throughout the city. “We’re doing everything we can to keep our two tanks full to minimize the effect of that. That tank is going to be needed sooner rather than later.”

The designs for the water tank have been in the can since at least 2018.

Listi said construction on the tank would take about a year and a half.

“So we got to get through this summer and next summer before we get it in place,” he said.

Belton, the city manager said, likely will dip into its fund balance of almost $14.3 million and issue some utility-related bonds to cover the cost of the project

The Sixth Avenue beautification project — an $11 million proposal that would turn the street into a gateway entrance that mirrors Central Avenue — is a lower priority endeavor for the city. Funding is a hurdle.

“Sixth Avenue has slipped a little bit,” Listi said. “We need to reconsider that in terms of a (Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization) project as a possibility and try to see if we can secure some funding for that.”

The mayor recognized funding for the project is pushing it back, but she said something has to be done because aging water lines are ruining the road.

“But with the water repairs that we’ve done, we’ve really torn the street up pretty bad,” Grayson said. “And for it to be our main entrance, the streets are rough.”

“It needs a lot of love,” Mayor pro tem Wayne Carpenter said.

Belton has four street reconstruction projects in the works in the next five years. Belton is aiming to reconstruction Brenda Lane, South Pearl Street and East Avenue J as well as West 13th Avenue and North College Street.

The most expensive is the reconstruction of Connell Street, currently a narrow two-lane road near several growing subdivisions. That proposal would cost $7.5 million and would not be ready for construction until after 2024.

Listi said the city is working to identify a grant to cover the cost of the project.

Combined, the street reconstruction projects would cost an estimated $9.2 million.

The planned neighborhood park around the Belton Standpipe, 301 W. Ave. I, is another project that was pushed back because of a lack of funding. The capital improvements plan has it slated for 2022.

“We don’t have funding for those just yet. We’re working on the grant,” Listi said. “We’re trying to assemble funding for that and that may stretch the timeframe out as we try to do the development of that project.”

The park and the restoration of the standpipe are estimated to cost about $480,000.

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