Ike funding helps Beaumont move forward on projects

Ward 3 Council Audwin Samuel (center) expresses his concerns, followed by his adamant approval of the Magnolia drainage project.

The city of Beaumont is some $18 million richer after the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission signed and approved the last round of Hurricane Ike funding more than four years after the storm ravaged Beaumont and the surrounding areas.

Capital Projects Manager Brenda Beadle said the money will go to a number of infrastructure and city services projects, including a state-of-the-art fire station on Helbig Road.

In the council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, Beadle said, “All the projects that were applied ... had to be projects that were directly affected by Hurricane Ike ... and they had to benefit low to moderate income or the protected classes.”

Beadle said at least half of the $18 million will go to drainage.

“Out of that budget, $9.1 million is allocated to two street and drainage projects,” she said. “And that’s Avenue A from Washington Boulevard to Cardinal Drive and Magnolia from Gill Street to East Lucas.”

The projects are an attempt by the city to alleviate floodwaters typical in hurricanes and heavy rain storms, Beadle said.

The other half of the $18 million will go to two building projects approved in advance by the federal government.

“Those two building projects, one is to replace Fire Station No. 2, which will be relocated to 4990 Helbig, and a public health facility, which will be relocated to 3040 College.”

The current public health building is simply too small for the current staff, Beadle said, and this affects every aspect of the city’s public health division.

“Currently we house nine divisions in four separate buildings,” she said. “We plan to consolidate these divisions into one complex .... There’s a lot of redundancy at the health department being where they are in separate buildings.”

The new fire station No. 2 will be a completely new design unlike any fire station in Beaumont.

“This station includes a back-up generator, gender neutral sleeping quarters, an exercise room and of course this training tower ...” she said. “The firefighters will be able to use this tower .. getting the training they need right here on site.”

Other council news

In addition to accepting the round 2.2 Hurricane Ike funding, the city approved another $2 million sanitary sewer project aimed at improving Beaumont’s water delivery infrastructure. The project will replace and clean some 36,377 linear feet of Beaumont’s water pipes and replace or rehabilitate some 126 manholes throughout the city.

“The existing sewer lines built in the 1940s and 1950s have deteriorated and require rehabilitation,” the council agenda says. “The primary goals of the project are to restore the integrity of the sanitary sewer lines, restore the carrying capacity, provide customers with uninterrupted and adequate service and meet the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Initiative agreement requirements with the State.”

The project area is bordered by Delaware Street, Thomas Road, Calder Avenue, Phelan Avenue and Hillebrandt Bayou, according to the council agenda.