West University Place Mayor Susan Sample delivered a State of the City address Jan. 31, providing a look ahead for what she hopes to accomplish in 2024. It's a year during which officials will also celebrate the 100-year anniversary of West U being incorporated as a city.

The big picture

Sample outlined several of the major projects the city will take on in 2024, which include work set to begin Feb. 12 on $1 million in Wier Park improvements. The park will be closed for roughly three months while work is underway.

One of the most significant projects to come before the West University Place City Council in 2024 relates to drainage, Sample said. Council could consider a design contract in May for a westside drainage project that has been under consideration since before Hurricane Harvey, work that Sample said will "probably be our biggest infrastructure project since the city was built."

"But I think it’ll have the most impact of anything we’ve done since then,” she said.

The project could entail installing a new trunk sewer line in a 40-foot-wide city easement to carry water from Bissonnet Street to Brays Bayou. If the project heads in that direction, city officials could look to turn the green space above the line into a pedestrian pathway, Sample said.

Meanwhile, work on the first phase of an eastside drainage project along Buffalo Speedway could wrap up around April or May. Work on Phase 2—along portions of Wakeforest Avenue, Rice Boulevard and Duke Street—could start this summer.

Upon completion, the eastside project will make it so the target area can handle at least a two-year rain event, Sample said.

Work on a $33.1 million Poor Farm Ditch project is not expected to start until early 2025, but public engagement meetings are slated to take place in April, Sample said. About $25.8 million of the project cost comes from federal and state sources.

A look back

Sample also recapped what she said were some of the city's top accomplishments in 2023, including:Zooming out

General urban planning goals are focused on making the city friendlier to pedestrians, Sample said. She said she wants to look at the city's right of way for places to potentially make sidewalks wider.

“We have automobile needs ... but how we can make it friendlier for pedestrians, see where they are going now and where is best to move them," Sample said during the address. "I think there's a lot we can do, because even though we are in a static space, we are still a growing community."

What else

Other city priorities in 2024 include moving the permitting process away from the paper system and toward an online system; improving how people interface with the city online, such as service requests; and making improvements to how the city communicates with residents during incidents that require issuing alerts on a broad basis, such as sheltering in place.

Officials also hope to launch a drone unit, which will be deployed to help police officers during searches and help firefighters assess damage, among other uses.

One more thing

Construction could begin this summer on the first of several projects the city is looking to take on as part of its Facilities Master Plan: a new Public Works facility.