The City of Dayton is working on several projects to improve the lives of its residents through better streets and drainage. On Monday, Dayton City Council met to authorize the hiring of LJA Engineering and Grant Works to work on a $350,000 grant application for street repairs.
Austin-based Grant Works Inc. will not be paid unless the Community Development Block Grant, which is being administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, is approved.
“Their fees only get paid if we get the funding proceeds,” City Manager Theo Melancon told Bluebonnet News on Tuesday. “The City is looking at paying an 11 percent match, around $38,500, toward the project if we are approved.”
The grant application ties into another Community Development Block Grant that the City is pursuing through the Texas General Land Office. That grant – $14 million – pertains to drainage improvements and has a 1 percent match requirement. This means that if both grants are approved, the City would benefit from more than $14 million in repairs and improvements while only spending $178,000 from the City’s coffers.
“We would be able to improve drainage for close to 40 percent of the residents of Dayton,” Melancon said. “If awarded, the project would rehabilitate and improve drainage on the east side of SH 321, from Linney Street to just north of Dayton High School. That area has more than 3,800 residents living in it.”
Approval for both grants should be announced by late summer 2021. If the City is successful in its bid, Melancon estimates that the work would then take about two years to complete.
“We will also be looking at creating a 25-30 acre retention pond within the Linney Creek flood zone to help with flood control. One of the things I want to do with that retention pond is engineer it in such a way that it could be a recreational pond for fishing. We need the flood control but there is nothing wrong with adding an amenity to it,” Melancon said.
In early 2020, the City of Dayton received a $700,000 grant from the Federal Rail Association to conduct feasibility studies related to improving safety and traffic conditions at each of Dayton’s at-grade crossings for rail and street. These are US 90 at Waco St., Main St., N. Winfree St. and a private driveway off of FM 1008.
“The grant is going to let us look at adding safety features at each of these intersections. At Winfree and 1008, we are going to look at expanded intersections with possible adding turn and merge lanes, and getting some signalization in place so we can get a better flow of traffic,” Melancon explained.
According to Melancon, the state already has a right-of-way that will provide enough space for the expanded intersections.
“They have basically given us a wink and a nod that if we get the feasibility study, then we can use that right-of-way to create the expanded intersections,” he said.
The City also is working on a feasibility study and design of an elevated T-intersection at Waco Street and US 90 in the future where traffic comes to a grinding halt a few times per day when rail cars are being moved.
“The beauty of the project I am proposing with the elevated T is that it won’t cause a problem on US 90. This would give us a second north-south connection for emergency vehicles because they would be able to get down Waco Street,” Melancon said. “Right now, when a train comes through, there is no way. We don’t yet know if we can do it, but this grant would be paying for the feasibility study to look into it.”
LJA Rail was hired to perform that study.
In other business, Dayton City Council authorized an agreement with Indorama, formerly Huntsman, to de-annex 141.377 acres where the industrial park is located on the 3800 block of US 90 West.
The deal will benefit both parties, said Melancon, because Indorama will get a tax break while the City will not be required to provide primary fire protection. Dayton and Mont Belvieu fire departments will respond for mutual aid, he added.
“The City of Dayton will still receive tax revenue. Indorama has agreed to pay 80 percent of the taxes they would have paid being inside the City of Dayton. Over the next 15 years, they will pay an additional 1 percent per year to a maximum of 94 percent. We will not be required to give them any city services and they will see a significant savings in their taxes,” Melancon said. “In order for us to provide fire protection, we would have had to level up our service significantly, which is costly, and we are not ready to invest that kind of money right now.”
At the end of the 15-year period, the City reserves the right to annex the property should a future council and city manager believe it is in the City’s best interest.
“At the end of the day, we felt this was the best deal for all parties. We didn’t want to hamstring a future council or administration. It’s a deal that works out well for everybody,” he said.