High-dollar land purchases for schools, new parks facilities, and the common local challenge of roads and transportation are facing Williamson County in the coming year.
But County mayor Rogers Anderson says the people who work in government and the community are up to it.
“Just having the good team we have here, elected, not elected, and also city officials, all of us working together to make Williamson County one of the most desirable places to work and live and raise your family. and all the accolades that come through the year, all of those things go into solidfy that hard work that goes on.
The most recent fruit of that labor will be the opening of Academy Park, the $9 million Parks and Rec project that has been years in the making.
The park at 112 Everbright Avenue off Columbia Avenue will house a Performing Arts Center and a Senior Enrichment Center, both new amenities for the county parks system.
The park could open as early as mid- January.
“We plan on a soft opening in January,” Gordon Hampton, director of Williamson County Parks and Recreation, said. “After that we will bring it along, and look at a grand opening and ribbon cutting sometime in late-March or early-April.”
Also on the slate for January is a big ticket item before the County Commission to approve funds to buy land for future schools. Williamson County Schools has plans to build 17 new schools over the next decade. At its January meeting the commission may have to decide whether to fund a WCS request for $46.1 million to purchase 615 acres of land to handle school district growth over the next decade.
The county also in 2017 will have to decide how, or whether, to fund an additional $93.9 million for everything the school board feels it will need to buy land, plan, design and construct schools over the next two to three years.
Facing the county is the challenge of funding the anticipated growth of 20,000 students in 10 years. That amount of growth, WCS projects, will mean a cost of about a half-billion dollars in new schools in the next decade.
The education impact fee on new home construction, in part a response to that challenge, will go into effect in March at 50 percent of its final levels. For a fee schedule, more information is here.
In September, it will take full effect.
“Schools are the number-one commitment from the county, and we have to provide services for our growing community,” Anderson said.
Roads are another commitment.
“One of the things we need to work on with our city and state partners is addressing the infrastructure,” Anderson said. “Roads, mostly.”
With more than 100 individual projects, with completion of 19 by 2020 and 81 by 2030, the county will begin work on an approximate $150-million road-work plan that covers four main corridors, Arno Road, Sneed Road, Clovercroft Road and Lynwood Way.
Additionally, to look at traffic from a larger and longer perspective, a “comprehensive traffic strategy” study is currently being conducted by AECOM to look at the big picture for traffic in the county and to provide suggestions. Results will be presented sometime in early 2017.