2013 Texas Municipal Excellence Award Winners
(under 25,000 population categories)
Kaufman (City Spirit)
The city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Action Team, known as NEAT, is a self-help, beautification program that builds community assets. NEAT not only helps improve the quality of life of residents in need, but it is a valuable tool that helps Kaufman attract new development. Most importantly, it is neighbors helping neighbors. The NEAT program focuses on restoring and cleaning up one neighborhood at a time, two times a year. The impact NEAT has is far reaching. The program targets about 200 homes and businesses with maintenance issues and code violations each year. A recent clean-up effort included more than 70 volunteers that repaired and painted 12 houses and filled three 30-yard dumpsters full of trash and debris. The NEAT program is truly a community-wide effort and relies on city staff, volunteers, and local businesses to donate their time, expertise, money, and supplies.
Nassau Bay, Seabrook, and Webster (Communication Programs)
In late May and early June of 2012, a full-sized replica of a NASA space shuttle was transported from the Spaceport in Florida to the Space Center in Houston. To manage the move through Nassau Bay, Seabrook, and Webster, the three cities worked closely to notify residents, manage more than 5,000 spectators, maneuver numerous obstacles blocking the shuttle’s route, and coordinate with more than 30 organizations, agencies, and businesses. While it was a celebration, the level of coordination required was, in many ways, similar to an emergency response. With only four weeks to prepare for the shuttle’s arrival, an incident command system was put in place to plan, organize, and communicate efforts. Thanks to the seamless coordination and collaboration of everyone involved, the region is now better prepared for a true emergency in the future.
University Park (Management Innovations)
Efforts to create a state-of-the art library in the city were achieved through collaboration between the city, Friends of the Library, and owners of a private commercial center. In 2000, the Friends of the Library opened the University Park Book Bank in space donated by a local office building owner. As popularity grew, the city began talks with the owners of a five-story, mixed-use building planned for The Plaza at Preston Center to create a permanent home for the library. Using an innovative approach, the city was able to acquire ownership of a 17,500 square foot space in the new office building at no expense to taxpayers. In exchange for ownership of that space, the city granted the center rights to the streets, sidewalks, and alleys within its boundaries. The spacious and attractive new library opened in January 2013 with the capacity to house 60,000 books and includes a large children’s area, a separate space for teens, 16 public computers, and a large community meeting room.
Belton (Public Safety)
A new early flood warning system on Nolan Creek is changing emergency response procedures in the city thanks to partnerships with nearby cities and Bell County. Prone to rapidly increasing stream elevation and flash flooding during rain events, Nolan Creek is a beautiful resource with a dangerous side. Belton began studying ways to mitigate flooding from the creek following a September 2010 flood that damaged a neighborhood, several private businesses, and multiple government buildings in the downtown area. In April 2012, the city invested $12,000 in software and a stream elevation and rainfall monitoring station. Similar stations were purchased by other entities in the county as well. The result is a robust creek monitoring system that provides real-time data on rainfall and stream elevation. In Belton, the system has already led to proposed adjustments in its emergency notification procedures. In the future, it is anticipated that the system will help save lives and property.
Aledo (Public Works)
The city faced rapid growth and restrictive site conditions when it undertook the expansion of its 20-year-old wastewater treatment plant. With careful planning and innovative design, the city was able to successfully use the site of the existing plant, which has a flood plain on one side and a steep slope beneath a neighborhood on the other. The new plant came online in December 2012—on time and 10 percent below budget. The new facility doubles the flow capability of the existing plant, provides the capacity for future expansion to accommodate city needs at build out, and meets current treatment standards. The plant is also the first in Texas to employ UV microwave-powered disinfection. Aesthetics and odor control were addressed to the point that the dedication and tours of the plant were one of the highlights of the city’s festivities when it celebrated its 50th anniversary of incorporation this year. The state-of-the-art plant was placed in operation at the right time to meet the needs of the city’s growth.