Waco: District embracing growth tries to preserve neighborhoods

By  | 

Waco, Texas (KWTX) In an effort to foster communication and trust, the City of Waco held a town hall meeting for citizens of District 2 Monday night.

District 2 councilman Hector Sabido addresses his constituents during a town hall meeting in South Waco Monday night. (Photo by Drake Lawson)

"The communication between the City and District 2--there's been a distrust for a long time, I believe," said Hector Sabido, Dist. 2 councilman. "I'm hoping that distrust will begin to dissipate and the lines of communication will begin to open."

It was a meeting, citizens said, which was long overdue.

"I was told it was the first time that it happened in a couple years," said Edgar Barrigan.

Barrigan grew up in the district then moved Florida for ten years for school and later a job in the film industry.

He's moved back to Waco because of the "opportunities," but says he hardly recognizes it.

"I've noticed that a lot of people have this image of what Waco 'is', and me growing up, I know what Waco 'was'," said Barrigan. "I'm all for progress, but what I worry about is seeing people getting pushed out and businesses only moving in to make a quick buck."

Growth is inevitable, Sabido told the crowd, however, he says his eyes are on both the future and the past.

"I want to see neighborhoods where people are growing and thriving AND people that have been in their home for 30 or 40 years stay in their homes," said Sabido. "But I also want to see people that desire to move to district 2, and make district 2 their home."

Gentrification was one of the many concerns brought up during the meeting at the South Waco Recreation Center.

"The meeting was for us to relay the message to them (citizens) of projects that are going on that effect them on a daily basis, whether its the route that they're taking to work or school, or things that are on the horizon that are being built in their backyard," said Sabido.

One of those 'things': the interstate.

As the district straddles I-35, a representative from the Texas Dept. of Transportation came to answer questions about the agency's second-largest construction project (by dollar) in the state.

"I do see a lot of flowage and a lot of people traveling into our streets now," said Juan Quintana. "Ad those routes--there's no more signage or anything like that, so that's a big concern."

A district resident and father, Quintana said he came to the meeting to get involved in his community.

"As you get older you get wiser, I'm a father now, so with that in mind, I want to leave a legacy behind for my kids," said Qintana. "The meeting, it brought a lot of light to what I needed to see."

Quintana said he wants to see more attention paid to the safety of their neighborhoods, including more lighting and signage.

It was clear neighborhood safety and street projects were top concerns to his constituents, Sabido said.

"I heard that very loud and clear," said Sabido. "We'll go back as a council and see how we need to address those issues."

Various department heads gave presentations during the meeting aimed at the district.

CIP Manager Jim Reed gave updates on "Better Streets Waco," the city's street program with a website where citizens can provide input and feedback: Reed said of the 630 centerline miles, district 2 made up 81 of them and there were currently seven street projects going on in Waco.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said Reed. "It's going to be uncomfortable for a bit, but I think it's going to get us where we need to be, we're changing, but it's a good thing."

City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson gave a presentation on the importance of participating in the 2020 Census so the city doesn't miss out on resources and support.

"If the Hispanic community is not counted, we can lose seats in the House of Representatives," said Hudson. "Ten minutes (of your time) for the next ten years."

She said they were looking for 'ambassadors' to help the city plan for March 2020.

Police Chief Ryan Holt discussed body cameras and the enforcement against 8-liner machines, which he says districts 2 and 4 have a great interest in.

"We're meeting with the county to bring some relief to neighborhoods that have seen the ill effects of 8-liners," said Holt.

He also said Waco PD had 100,000 calls for service last year, 30,000 of which resulted in cases worked by detectives.

Battalion Chief Robert Beechner told the crowd Fire Station No. 5 would likely open in September, a little later than planned, and Station 6, the new Waco Fire Headquarters, was slated to be completed in the Fall of 2020.

Officials also advised, the demolition of the 12th Street Bridge would begin Wednesday night.