WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS - After almost 10 years, the City of Hutto is finally moving forward with a bond project to make improvements to the main street in downtown.
Voters approved the East Street Improvement Project back in 2009, but nothing's happened until now.
Danielle Singh, Hutto's Assistant City Manager, said that’s because they didn’t want to raise taxes at that time.
"In 2008, after the economy had a little bit of a downturn, it would have required for the taxes to be raised at that time. This will not come with a tax increase, it was budgeted for this year,” said Singh. "It was put off for budgetary reasons to not increase the tax rate, and now they're finally going forward with the project.”
Singh said the project is part of the city’s downtown master plan.
The street has several businesses and restaurants already there, but with the Gin Co-Op Entertainment District in development, they know more people will be heading their way.
"Citizens and visitors will start to see these areas more, so it will create a really nice gateway to that project and just into the downtown area as a whole,” said Singh.
The project will include fresh pavement on East street from Farley Street to US 79.
It will also include new sidewalks, streetscapes like plants and irrigation, new lighting, a pedestrian plaza and 43 new parking spaces on East Street in the area between Pecan Street and Farley Street.
Mario Perez has had his Mexican Restaurant here on East Street in Hutto since 2004.
"We had about 1,200 people in Hutto. We're probably taking in 26,000 now,” said Perez.
He likes the idea of the improvements, saying it will help business.
"It will improve it,” said Perez. "It will have more foot traffic.”
Perez recently urged city council to move forward with the East Street Improvement Project.
"Any town that you go to, you like to go to the old town and see it nice and built, nicely done, improvements being made, and that's what we're looking for in Hutto one day, and hopefully it's coming soon,” said Perez.
"Quite frankly it needs the maintenance at this point,” said Singh.
As the city now moves forward, by choosing a contractor, the council also chose to alter the original plan, in order to save money.
They're choosing less expensive lighting, getting donated trash cans from the landscaping company, and removing benches, food truck hook ups, and bike racks from the proposal.
"They were concerned about paying for that over the life of a 30-year bond,” said Singh.
One council member hopes local businesses or homeowners will donate these items in the future.
"The things that we removed through this project we could still do through other forms,” said Singh. “We could still do a separate bid for it, it's just not going to happen today with this project."
After the project is complete, Perez said he plans to expand his business.
"There's going to be lighting all the way down to Pecan Street, and you know widening up the sidewalks, and of course there's going to go be a parking lot right across the street, 40 something spaces, that improves totally for everybody, not only me, but everybody that's here in the downtown area,” said Perez.
In return, he hopes the improvements brings new customers, additional businesses, more tax dollar revenue, and other improvements down the line.
"All of it together in a combination, makes it worthwhile to be able to do these kinds of projects,” said Perez.
The city hopes the contractor will start the construction in the next 30 days, and hopes to have the whole project completed by the end of the year.
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