MIDLOTHIAN – Voters officially issued the green light for street improvements, upgrades to fire department facilities, and the completion of the community park.
Roughly seven percent of the 102,934 registered voters in Ellis County turned out to the polls during the November election cycle.
Three of the four Midlothian propositions passed, which included Proposition A (1,089 for, 630 against), Proposition B ( 1,083 for, 650 against), and Proposition D (879 for, 852 against). Proposition C, the proposal of $33 million in tax bonds for constructing and equipping a multi-purpose public safety center, failed by 40 votes — 883 to 843.
All seven Texas constitutional amendments passed. Both Waxahachie ISD bond propositions failed. Proposition A saw 2,191-vote against (1,508 for) and Proposition B had 2,428 vote against (1,264 for).
Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick spoke to members of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce about the propositions on Wednesday, Oct. 25. He told the chamber that these improvements and upgrades are critical in keeping up with the city's population boom.
“I think that everybody understands the massive amount of growth that we are experiencing right now in our community. We did 475 single-family (residential) permits last year. The estimate for this year is close to 670. That translates to about 2,000 residents coming into our community. We don’t foresee that slowing down anytime soon,” Dick said.
“With that projected number of people every year, the council decided that it was time to get together a citizen-planning group to talk about the needs of our community in the future. They appointed 22 members from our community from all different backgrounds and met over a four-month period to determine what the needs were in the community.”
Dick explained that recommendations from the group were made after reviewing information such as financial data, similar towns, and population growth. The committee of citizens looked at about 20 projects before eventually narrowing the list down to eight.
The first proposition totaled around $9 million and included the relocation and construction of fire station No. 1 that is located on Eight Street in downtown Midlothian and a new fire training facility.
“The fire station relocation we are looking to get it out of downtown and a little bit to the west. We think that it will eliminate the need for an additional fire station as we see growth out in the west as it starts to develop out,” Dick stated. “We have never had a training facility for the fire department here. All of the firefighters have to go outside the community to get that training. So we would like to bring that training in town.”
Fire Chief Dale McCaskill stated this replacement station would allow firefighters to reach other areas faster by moving it a mile down the road. He noted that this location is going to be built to handle the department's growth and will be able to house up to 12 firefighters.
McCaskill added the city does not currently have a training facility. The department has to rely on other cities, such as Waxahachie, to use one. The department has also used the parking lot at the Midlothian ISD’s Multi-Purpose Stadium as well as homes donated by residents for training. Station No. 1 has been in use since 1965.
The second proposition totaled around $22.2 million. It would fund construction, street improvements on South Walnut Grove, the future intersection of Hayes and Mockingbird Lane at Farm-to-Market Road 1387, McAlpin Road at the intersection of FM 663, and two additional lanes on South 14th Street.
“On the roadway side, we are looking at south Walnut Grove between FM 1387 and U.S. Highway 287 making that concrete and extending some of the four-lane road as it gets closer to the intersection. We are also looking to add, which is about eight years out into the future, to south 14th Street between Mount Zion and Ashford Lane many of you know that is not in yet. This would take this to a four-lane (road) from Mont Zion all the way to Ashford Lane to the community park,” Dick explained. “The intersection of McAlpin Road, the state added a traffic signal at McAlpin and FM 663, which was a very welcome addition. What we would like do now with this proposition is to make four lanes on the east side of the intersection for about 500 feet and then have it tie back into the existing intersection.”
Dick added that the last road project would be a new road that would tie into where Hayes Roads connects to FM 1387. This route would connect into Mockingbird Lane and run north and south.
The third proposition was approximately $33 million. It would have constructed a new facility for the city’s police department, emergency operations, and the municipal courts.
“The police department is operating out of a church facility that was built in the 1970’s and 1980’s,” Dick stated. “There are certain things that do not meet certain standards, and we would like to address not only with our police department but also with our 9-1-1 dispatch center, our code enforcement, and our jail facility. We would like to get that to a new, updated facility that meets current standards.”
Police Chief Carl Smith told the audience that the proposed facility accounts for the growth the city is anticipating happening. He stated that the department contracted with Brinkley Sargent Architects who did a facilities assessment looking at the next 25 years.
“We have been in this current facility since March of 2007," Smith said. "For the last 10 years, I think that we have done a remarkable job in what is considered residential construction."
Smith continued stating that the new building will be built to more resistant to tornados so that this piece of critical infrastructure would survive a catastrophic event.
Dick added that the new facility would be located at the department’s present location at 1150 N. U.S. Highway 67 due to the city owning six acres on the site already. If approved by residents, the department would operate out of its existing building while the new one is under construction. Once the new building is completed, the agency would move out, and the old building would be demolished.
The fourth proposition was $16 million and would finish out the second and third phases of the city’s community park. The Midlothian Community Park is located off of 14th Street.
According to the city’s website, the city council approved $7.8 million to fund phase one in March of 2013 through the issuance of a general obligation bond.
“The final proposition is the community park. We have completed phase one. We would like to complete the construction of phase two and three that would include baseball (fields), an amphitheater, a fishing pond, a splash pad, and walking trails,” Dick stated. “This would just continue what we have been doing with the new park.”
Dick told the crowd that under this plan the city is not looking to do a tax increase to fund these projects. The approach that the city is taking is to phase each project over an eight-year period.