W.F. City Council and Staff Preparing for 2013

Wichita Falls city councilors and city staff spent all day Tuesday hearing a variety of presentations outlining various plans for 2013. No action will be taken, but the work session brings everyone together to work out ideas for the year ahead.

Director of Parks and Recreation Jack Murphy spoke about the Circle Trail and funds necessary to complete the project over the next year. Councilors are hoping to receive several grants to help fund that project.

Assistant City Manager Kevin Hugman spoke at length about different projects that could be funded by the 4B Sales Tax Corporation. One of the highest priority projects is building a new tower and attraction at Castaway Cove. With water parks now popping up across Texoma, councilors believe it is important to keep people coming with bigger and better rides.

Castaway Cove has had some obvious success after adding a new attraction. The Cliffhanger was added in 2008, and the park posted it's largest attendance ever the same summer, over 94,000 people.

Hugman presented a plan to add a new, state of the art attraction at a cost of around a million dollars. Castaway Cove has a reserve fund with around $900,000 and Hugman suggested the park use $650,000 of that to pay for the new ride. The remaining $350,000 could come from the 4B Sales Tax Corporation. The same tower for the new ride could also be used for another at a later date.

Hugman said even with Stage 3 Drought Emergency only weeks away, there are no plans to limit or close the park. He said, "Its an enterprise fund so because of that its a business. To shut it down would seriously impact people's jobs and it would impact cost. We still have costs we would have to pay anyway without making any money."

City leaders hope to address the plan during a formal meeting this spring, and hand out a bid. They hope to begin construction after this summer's season and have the ride open by the start of the 2014 season.

Another project on Hugman's list for the city and 4B board is upgrading and adding new signs around Wichita Falls. The new way-finding signage would replace old signs and logos around the city and add all new facility and pedestrian signs. Hugman said it's about making the Falls a destination and making a good impression on visitors.

Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego also addressed the council and staff about his department's need for more impound space. The current impound lot has a capacity of 118 vehicles but is very often over capacity by as many as 47 cars last November.

Councilors and staff members also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the approaching Stage 3 Drought Emergency restrictions and how to best convey them to the public.

The second part of the work session was scheduled for Wednesday but has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts. Mayor Barham said they're trying to work it in next week.

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6