Challenges ahead for Richmond as growth intersects with tradition
By Betsy Dolan
When the National Anthem singer at Richmond’s State of the City luncheon struggled to remember the words, the crowd joined in to help out. It was the sort of cooperative spirit that Richmond Mayor Evalyn Moore is hoping to see more of in the months ahead as Richmond prepares for growth and change.
“It is an exciting time for us”, Moore told the crowd. “My late husband (Richmond’s long time Mayor Hillmar Moore) always had the pioneer spirit and we thank him for that legacy. But Richmond is no longer the sleepy little town west of the Brazos”.
Since voters approved a home rule charter change in 2013, Richmond has been annexing land in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. A draft comprehensive master plan, a five-member planning & zoning commission and the hiring of a new economic development director have also helped the city prepare for the growth that is coming.
“The goal is to meet these changing times with a fresh approach to land use, enhanced city services, and new amenities for our citizens enjoyment”, Moore said.
In March, the City signed a contract to build a new 2 million gallons-a-day surface water treatment plant on land donated by the George Foundation. The city has to reduce ground water usage by 30% in the next two years to comply with state law.
Richmond is also building a 2.5 million gallons-per-day re-use plant set to open in January 2015. It will be used to fill amenity lakes, water golf courses and the justice center grounds.
A five-year Capital Improvements Plan includes a new fire station and an interior remodel of City Hall. In addition, Richmond has pursued Community Development Block Grants which will help improve infrastructure in the older parts of the city.
There is renewed focus on the historic downtown area which will be getting a new winery and several boutiques. The city is working on improving the parking, sidewalk repair and is exploring the possibility of a railroad quiet zone.
Richmond has partnerships on several major road projects including overpasses at U.S. 90A, near Oakbend Medical Center and U.S. 90A at FM 359. There are also plans to continue widening Williams Way near the justice center. Funds from the Fort Bend Mobility bond referendum will help pay for the “punch through” on FM 762 to N. 10th Street, eventually meeting up with FM 359.
“Hillmar always wanted Richmond to be a nice place to live”, Moore said. “I feel that we have the best of both worlds–one of the most historic cities in Texas that is on the cusp of great change.”
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