By George Slaughter
A local group is promoting a plan that, if implemented, could change how people get around Katy. City officials are looking into the plan.
The local group, Katy Pathways, is proposing that the city build a lighted walkway along Cane Island Creek between VFW Park, 6202 George Bush Dr., to Thomas Park, 5919 Fourth St., and extending to the First Street bridge.
The overall project calls for the development of walkways and access paths in older areas of the city.
A key project component involves the development of complete streets, which enables getting around by bicycle, car, or foot. Older streets would be redeveloped accordingly, while new streets would have these accommodations installed as they are built.
Developing complete streets is one phase of what Katy Pathways supporters, including Chloe’s Closet, Cool Cat Cycles, MKT Distillery, No Label Brewing, Pizza Bella, Purser Architectural, Showcase Gymnastics and Starland Construction hope to accomplish. Katy Pathways leader James Spring is president of Starland Construction in Katy.
Ward A Council Member Janet Corte said she met Spring when she was campaigning last year and liked his ideas. She organized a meeting last month between Spring, Mayor Bill Hastings, City Administrator Byron Hebert, and other city officials.
Hastings said he thought it was a great project.
“This trails system will allow people to get out, be mobile, walk on sidewalks with kids actually next to you,” Hastings said. “This will be a great connectivity to downtown and the parks.”
Hastings said the proposed pathway is the place to start the project.
“The newer developments that have come in, they have ADA (Americans with Disabilities)-compliant sidewalks, they have pocket parks, and they have the trails,” Hastings said. “But the older areas of Katy that don’t have those things is where Katy Pathways will be such a benefit, because we’ll be able to tie in our parks and downtown area.”
Easement is one issue that must be addressed.
“We don’t have all the easement we need,” Hastings said. “Some of that easement belongs to the Brookshire-Katy Drainage District. We’ve initiated a conversation with them about easement and maintenance. There’s a lot of logistics involved in it.”
Many other questions remain to be answered as the city considers its options. Will the walkway be on both sides of the creek? Will the walkway be made of asphalt, concrete, or something else? What kind of lights would be installed, and where?
Spring said two common questions or objections he addresses about the pathways project involve funding and lighting.
While the city’s budget and tax base are growing because Katy itself is growing, fixing aging infrastructure and continuing Harvey-related repairs are also priorities. Corte said one funding idea that has been suggested is to adopt pathways, similar to the Adopt a Highway program familiar to Texas drivers. Another idea is to ask sponsors to donate benches or other items.
Spring said that lighting the parkway would be a deterrent to would-be criminals in the area.
The Katy Pathways project follows similar movements in other Texas cities, including Austin and San Antonio. Spring said he’s been studying Katy’s layout for two years following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
“I live on Avenue D,” Spring said. “I have to run across Avenue D because there’s no sidewalk on Avenue D on the other side. When Harvey came through and flooded everything, I started noticing where the water came from. I thought, why is there no pathway there, why is it not developed. I got tired of walking kids across Avenue D.”
Spring said he realized that several different government entities would have to be involved in various phases of the project. Corte said that the project went beyond Katy city limits.
Hastings estimated that it would take 8-10 years to complete the items being suggested for the city.
“Nothing happens overnight,” Hastings said. “It takes a lot of planning and figuring out the funding. But I think with the last two meetings we’ve had with James, we’ve had a lot of progress on how to get this thing started.”
City officials are preparing the 2019-2020 city budget, which when approved by city council would go into effect October 1. For more information, see katypathways.com.