Once again, the issue of revitalizing the Killeen’s Rancier Avenue corridor is on the table.

And once again, the city’s lawmakers have shown enthusiasm for a proposed upgrade to the northside thoroughfare.

Council members last week viewed a computer-animated presentation on the proposed changes, which would include lowering advertising signs to a smaller scale, burying power lines and beautifying business fronts, as well as repairing roads and sidewalks and adding foliage.

Cost of the project — which would extend from Fort Hood Street to Valley Road — wasn’t given, but interim City Manager Dennis Baldwin said he believed funding could be provided through hotel-motel tax money or through existing Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone funds.

A TIRZ takes the difference from one year’s tax to the next and puts it in a fund to be used for public improvements within that district. It can be used to fund projects such as water and sewer lines, streets and sidewalks, trails and parks, storm drain ways, facade improvements and maintaining historical markers.

The TIRZ the city created in 2009 includes most of downtown Killeen from Veterans Memorial Boulevard to Rancier Avenue, and most of Killeen on the eastern side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Certainly, it’s in the city’s interest to improve the aesthetics along Rancier, especially the area closest to Fort Hood’s eastern gate, where the proposed project is focused. A visually pleasing area will reflect better on the military post, make the area more attractive to customers and potentially draw more businesses.

Still, it must be noted that facelifts to Rancier have been tried before, with little success.

Nearly 10 years ago, the council passed an ordinance regulating signage along Rancier, but the statute didn’t require signs to be replaced until they fell into disrepair. Consequently, the area doesn’t look much different today than it did when the ordinance was enacted.

However, the new proposal offers a vision of a dramatically different West Rancier Avenue. The computer animation removes several current buildings in its projected vision of the area.

The question is, how does the city get to that point?

Many buildings in the area are very close to the road and have little parking. In order to provide better parking and pedestrian access, some buildings would have to be purchased and removed, but who decides the winners and losers?

Councilman Richard “Dick” Young, who generally favors the Rancier renovation, said the city must encourage and reward property owners for making changes. Forcing business owners who are on the edge of profitability to make expensive changes to the property would be unfair, he said.

Young also envisions a committee composed of council members, business owners and residents who would help to designate where TIRZ funds would be spent in revitalizing the area.

Young noted that the city makes more money off the northern portion of town than other areas, given the proportion of city expenditures to tax revenue.

Given that reality, it’s all the more important that the city reinvest in the area.

With that in mind, city officials are to commended for targeting urban blight with their Clean ’17 code enforcement initiative — starting with a zone that includes the downtown portion of Rancier.

But more must be done to help Rancier and north-central Killeen than just improving the aesthetics. The council must make it a priority to address the area’s deteriorating roads and outdated water lines as well.

City officials must develop a long-term plan to systematically repair and replace the city’s aging infrastructure — which constitutes a potential threat to public health and safety. That means prioritizing areas by need, setting a schedule and dedicating funding for the work to be done.

The council’s enthusiasm for improving the look of Rancier is commendable.

Members should demonstrate similar support for improving the lives of the area’s residents.

dmiller@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7543

(2) comments

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

@Alvin, any woman knows make up covers everything's, its just when you wake up and its starts to run it shows what's underneath.

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
To me, this headline says it all, 'Rancier, North Killeen Needs More Than Just a Face lift'.
Why doesn't this interim city manager, when he proposes a project include what the project will cost??? The city manager comes in with absolutely no cost justification. And following that, the interim city manager has the view that, 'funding could be provided through hotel-motel tax money or through existing Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone funds.' This is all 'pie in the sky' wishes, not actuality.
Copy: 'A TIRZ takes the difference from one year’s tax to the next and puts it in a fund to be used for public improvements within that district. It can be used to fund projects such as water and sewer lines, streets and sidewalks, trails and parks, storm drain ways, facade improvements and maintaining historical markers.'
Continuation of copy: 'The TIRZ the city created in 2009 includes most of downtown Killeen from Veterans Memorial Boulevard to Rancier Avenue, and most of Killeen on the eastern side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.' End of copy.
And the bottom line in my opinion is 'Still, it must be noted that facelifts to Rancier have been tried before, with little success.'
And with the grand scheme of things, with some buildings to be purchased and removed, who decides who will go and who will stay???
Why does it always come down to: 'encouragement and reward'. Why does it be 'expected that the city will encourage and reward property owners'??? Isn't that the name of the game that you 'take your chances when going into business'???
Copy: 'Young noted that the city makes more money off the northern portion of town than other areas, given the proportion of city expenditures to tax revenue.' End of copy.
Now what does that really say, 'that the amount of money that is collected in taxes and the amount of money that is expended does not equate to anything. The fact that this imbalance exists does not warrant the gross expenditure of additional finds. What has the city realized in the expenditure of millions of dollars that was expended just a few years ago???
And I just don't see 'why' this city should spend millions on a never ending cycle when this city should encourage growth and investment on other parts of this city.
Copy: 'more must be done to help Rancier and north-central Killeen than just improving the aesthetics. The council must make it a priority to address the area’s deteriorating roads and outdated water lines as well.'
Continuation of copy: 'City officials must develop a long-term plan to systematically repair and replace the city’s aging infrastructure — which constitutes a potential threat to public health and safety. That means prioritizing areas by need, setting a schedule and dedicating funding for the work to be done.' End of copy.
Why hasn't this city been 'developing the/a plan for the care and well being for this city's infrastructure which would include not only roads but water/sewer lines as well???
From the personal perspective of this one individual, 'It must be noted that for as long as I been acquainted with this city, it has been paramount that this council, and city staff whoever that may be, is overly concerned with the aesthetics of this city, but not the functioning of this city. There has not been an emphasis on planning and scheduling, on looking to the future and determining what and where this city is to go to develop the infrastructure necessary for it's development.
One of the few who voted.

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