A good first step: Board of Mayor and Aldermen working to make Kings a viable community

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The recent decision by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to advertise for bids for a drainage project in the Kings community is a start toward resolving an issue that has plagued Kings for years.

The $645,010 project is funded in part by a $495,008 federal Natural Resource Conservation Service grant, with the city paying $150,002.

The city’s share will come from the $1 million in capital fund money set aside for improvements in Kings.

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“This is a serious project for several different reasons,” said North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who has pushed for the project. “One is to maintain the water control that comes off Sherman and Union avenues. The other involves two underground springs in the area.”

But there is more here than just the decision to bring what can be classified as a major drainage project. It’s a case of the residents speaking up and the board listening.

When Mayor George Flaggs Jr. was sworn in in 2017, he pledged $1 million of the city’s capital improvement bond money to improving Kings. He also promised to meet with Kings residents to discuss their concerns. He and city officials met several times with the residents to hear about their neighborhood. One of those concerns was backwater flooding during heavy rains because silt and sand from the high ground on the east side of North Washington Street was getting in the drainage culverts, clogging them and preventing water from draining. They wanted it to stop.

The Sherman Avenue project is the first step.

But drainage wasn’t the only concern of the residents, who also wanted to see their neighborhood become an economically viable area. The city signed a contract with consultants Hawes Hill & Associates of Houston, Texas, which is examining ways to make Kings a viable community for residents and business. When Flaggs made his commitment to Kings in July 2017, there may have been some who wondered if he or any city official would make good on his promise to work and improve Kings, but he has kept his word, and Kings is starting to get some attention.

It may be some time before the drainage is improved or businesses begin coming to Kings, but city officials have shown they are willing to listen to the residents, and that’s a good first step.