RRCA seeks approval for improvement district

RRCA seeks approval for improvement district

Legislation for a new improvement district proposed by the Rayford Road Civic Association is being written and will be presented to the state House of Representatives in April.

The Grand Oaks Improvement District is being proposed as a result of the population growth, increasing traffic and continuous construction projects in the area, according to RRCA officials. They said they are hoping that proposed district gains House approval this month.

RRCA Vice President Paul Alli said the proposed district's boundaries are being finalized. Alli said there has been no determination as to how the district would receive funding. The bill would need to go through the state Legislature to receive approval for the district first since it is considered an entity that requires approval from the state, much like a municipal utility district.

"Once the legislation is approved through the House and Senate, the district will be approved, and an interim board will be formed for the new district," Alli said.

He said a new board would not be made up of current members of the RRCA board, but would include new members.

"Then later on there will be an election where board members will be elected for a certain term for the new district," Alli said.

The board would be able to enact policies for the district, and residents would be able to vote on funding and taxing mechanisms, he said.

State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, said he is supportive of the new improvement district.

"The best thing about this district is that it gives people autonomy for determining the future, especially with transportation and a lot of growth," Keough said.

With a $350 million county road bond being voted on May 9, $68 million of that bond would go toward funding a range of projects east of I-45 and in the Rayford Road Corridor area. Those proposals include the widening of Rayford Road from four to six lanes, according to the RRCA. Although these projects are expected to improve traffic flow and ease congestion in the Rayford Road Corridor area, the RRCA has been planning to install Grand Oaks to bring a sense of community, beautification and mobility to the area, Alli said.

Alli said there is a need for infrastructure improvements along the Rayford Road Corridor, and that could be accomplished by adding an improvement district similar to The Woodlands Road Utility District No. 1. The RUD is a taxing entity located primarily in The Woodlands that places a property tax on businesses. The money the RUD earns helps pay for Woodlands road improvement projects.

"With the recent increase in population growth, we want to do whatever we can to keep the area intact," Alli said. "When you look at The Woodlands and see their improvement district, that's what makes them successful."

The district is also meant to be a brand name and add amenities such as a community center and a possible YMCA.

"We want Grand Oaks to have a sense of community for its residents and provide safety and security," he said. "This is going to give homeowners and business owners benefits that they wouldn't receive with just having the bond."

Alli said the RRCA believes that there are many things that can be done to better the Rayford Road Corridor area, and the organization is hoping the proposed improvement district will increase property value, maintain population growth and provide more benefits.

"We're glad that the road bond was proposed—we need all the help we can get," Alli said. "But we feel like there are more improvements that can be done besides the improvements enacted by the bond."