Katy developing strategic plan - Drainage, safety, economy and parks priorities

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 8/27/21

City of Katy administrators and Katy City Council members are working on planning for Katy’s future.

The city’s current strategic plan is out of date and doesn’t reflect the …

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Katy developing strategic plan - Drainage, safety, economy and parks priorities

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City of Katy administrators and Katy City Council members are working on planning for Katy’s future.

The city’s current strategic plan is out of date and doesn’t reflect the growth the city has experienced since it was last developed in 2001, per the city’s website. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Katy has grown by about 6,000 in population since the last strategic plan was done.

“Right now, the city’s comprehensive plan is dated in 2001,” Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said. “And we are going to – in the next budget – they’re going to be bringing forth a plan where we can just look at the city from top to bottom, and that includes reviewing some of our ordinances on what is required in development. We’re just going to start from scratch, and we’re going to look at the entire plan where we want to be, not three years from now, but 20 years from now.”

Harris, Council Member Janet Corte, City Administrator Byron Hebert and the city’s new Parks Director Kevin Browne said they were pleased with how the planning process is going so far. Drainage remains a priority given the amount of development north of the city and the prevalence of waterways close to the Bayou City. However, additional priorities include public safety such as police and fire departments, updating development ordinances, economic improvements, parks and overall walkability they said.

“I’m very excited to see what a Master Parks Plan can do for us,” Hebert said.

The parks plan is a priority for council, Harris and Corte said, as is walkability. With approval from voters for the city’s Proposition B on May 1, the city has access to $4.2 million in financing which will allow the city to plan, design and construct a parks administration building, upgrade parks throughout the city and develop trails and paths to improve walkability citywide.

Browne said that process will rely heavily on him and his staff in the Parks Department. Parks have become a priority in the last year and a half as outdoor spaces have become an escape during the pandemic, he said. The work involved will provide a new headquarters for Browne and his staff and will examine how to connect the parks throughout the city so pedestrians can move between them safely. Parks staff will need to take an inventory of amenities at all the city’s parks and see what needs to be repaired, what should be upgraded and balance costs with the goals of city leaders and residents.

“The most important thing about the master plan process is it’s going to rely heavily on citizen input,” Browne said. “It’s about what the people of Katy want in their parks and what they want to see. So, it’s important that they’re engaged and involved.”

Additionally, Browne said, the development of Leyendecker Landing at the intersection of Morton and Pitts roads will be important. Final plans for the park aren’t developed yet, but that process is just starting, Browne said.

Keeping heavy traffic away from the areas residents walk and off smaller streets is important, Hebert said. Shifting large trucks to Katy Fort Bend Road and widening it north of Clay Road after it was designated as a truck route earlier this year will help that process and improve safety.

The city will also be looking to hire two more police officers soon to prevent crime, Hebert said.

Still, drainage remains the number one priority for the city. Harris said he feels the city had always been reactive rather than proactive until drainage bonds were approved in 2018 shortly after Hurricane Harvey caused flooding. To better plan for drainage, he said, the city will continue to engage with experts to conduct drainage assessments and plan ahead.

“Costello (Engineering) is assigned to drainage,” Harris said. “They’re our engineer and they’re going to be reviewing all these projects and they are working with our Public Works staff and, of course, city council, to identify these areas.”

Harris and Corte both said that, as the city continues to grow, administrators will work to make sure economic opportunities come to the city, but come to the city in a way that makes sense. The idea is to ensure zoning requirements keep industrial developments away from the city and that drainage is managed as new developments come in, they said.

“Anything large commercial, we want to keep it on the outskirts, kind of like they did with the industrial parks along I-10,” Corte said. “… We want to keep more of the mom-and-pop shops inside the heart of the city.”

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