City focused on mobility projects, comprehensive plan in 2013

The City of Magnolia hosted its second "Magnolia on the Move" event Jan. 8, where city officials give presentations on major initiatives for the upcoming year. This year's presentation focused mainly on mobility and the development of a comprehensive plan, while also touching on city expansion and the 2013 line-up of events.

City Administrator Paul Mendes recapped 2012 projects, such as the widening of FM 1774 within city limits and a major utility relocation that involved running a 12-inch water line down FM 1774 to Friendship lane.

"Prior to that, we were servicing the entire area with a three-inch pipe," he said. "We are now able to provide fire protection to that area. We've got an eight-inch line that runs to the entrance of [the subdivision] Magnolia Crossing and hopefully over the next year or two we'll be able to give them fire protection also."

The the Texas Department of Transportation expects to start construction on a overpass at the intersection of FM 1488 and FM 149 in 2014. Another is being planned for the intersection of FM 1488 and FM 1774, which Mendes said will do wonders when it comes to alleviating bottlenecks that frequently build up there. TxDOT also has plans to widen the stretch of FM 1488 from FM 149 to the Montgomery County line to five lanes.

The city is also looking to continue to expand both its extra-territorial jurisdiction and city limits moving forward, said Deborah Rose Miller, Magnolia's economic development coordinator.

"A city of our size just has a half mile-radius around its city limits for its ETJ, but you can have voluntary expansion for a business or individual requesting to come into the city," she said. "We tried to have our expansion mirror the road expansions with our first annexation, and there is more to come."

Miller also released the line-up of city events for 2013, which kicks off with a Mardi Gras celebration Feb. 9. The event will serve as an attempt by the city to break a Guinness World Record right on the Magnolia Stroll by assembling 2,000 people dancing with umbrellas. The Magnolia Love Bug Fest will also be returning this June, as well as the BBQ Cookoff in March and Hometown Christmas in December, among other events.

The topic of a potential Town Center located on the open 10 acres of land between Magnolia City Hall and Magnolia Ridge came up again. Mendes pointed out that it is still just a suggestion at this point and nothing has been set in stone. This location would connect residents to churches, schools and activity centers and make walking or biking possible modes of transportation, he said.

"No land is cheap, but when you can go into places where you don't have infrastructure built, you can get it for a lot more reasonable of a price you don't have to work around what's already there," he said.

Mendes also pointed out the city's improved financial standing, demonstrated by the AAA rating from Standard & Poor's, a financial research company.

"The bottom line is, we are coming out in the black," he said. "We've been short on finances in the past, and we've been able to dig out of the hole and it looks like we're ready to get running."

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.