By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – As Harker Heights continues to expand and improve itself, many of its new residents in land annexed by the city feel a bit abandoned.
Many of them have no water supply; instead, they get their water from private wells.
A little more two years ago, Harker Heights annexed about 2 square miles of land south of town off Farm-to-Market 2410 south of Harker Heights High School.
When the city first annexed the property, it made a promise to provide that district with a proper water supply within 2 years.
The City Council has been in closed-door negotiations with the Dog Ridge Water District, the water provider for a portion of the annexed area, to see if they can reach an agreement on providing the service to residents in the area.
Those negotiations have taken more time than the city expected. City staffers have asked for a 1-year extension to that promise from the council so that the city can account for that extra time. The city is expected to begin construction of the new waterline, which will provide for fire safety only.
According to Colin Hudson, secretary of the Lakeside Hills Land Association, Dog Ridge serves only about 20 percent of the area.
Hudson, who has owned his land since 1981, built a home on the property in 1993. He said he spent $10,000 to dig a well there, which he shares with his neighboring father to help offset the cost. He said he had to do that because no one services that area right now, not even Dog Ridge.
The only people who get water from Dog Ridge are at the bottom of the hill, he said, and those people are in the minority.
"The only service new waterlines are expected to provide is for the purpose of fire protection," Planning and Zoning Director Ray Shanaa said, "unless we reach some kind of an agreement with Dog Ridge."
Because the city could see that the area would not have service once the two-year deadline hit, city staffers are looking to extend the deadline to four years to cover the additional time needed before the proper waterlines can be installed.
"We are extending the waterlines so that we can have adequate pressure and volume," Shanaa said. "Most of the engineering is done (about 70 percent). The money has been budgeted, and the council intends to implement that plan."
The money is budgeted for the lines, so there is no doubt that the city will be installing a waterline soon.
"The line is going in," Shanaa said. "There's no if's, ands or buts about it."
But the fact that it is expected to only supply water for fire safety is something with which many residents are at odds.
Laura Kayton, president of the Lakeside Hill Land Association, said, "This is a big issue for the association. The fire safety was our main concern, especially during the drought. Promises were made during the time of the annexation, and those promises have not yet been met."
The city is expected to begin construction on the new waterlines in the first months of 200,7 according to Shanaa and Public Works Director Mark Hyde.
But that won't help residents not currently receiving water from any service.
Hudson said he believes the city has concentrated its money and energy on its new developments and subdivisions, and he said that has left the area feeling abandoned by the city.
"I think they're putting the priorities on the new subdivisions, and I think they need to take responsibility for what they've promised," Hudson said. "That's just my opinion, and I understand it, but it doesn't make it right."
He said the people in the community don't feel like they have been treated right since the annexation.
"The general opinion out here is that there is nothing that will happen," Hudson said. "They can say work is in progress, but we all feel like we're just getting [taken advantage of] and there is nothing we can do about it."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org