Miller - SO MUCH potential in Navasota
While 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to Navasota, the city’s brand, SO MUCH, SO CLOSE, survived and thrived, according to Navasota Mayor Bert Miller.
In his Jan. 14 State of the City Address at the Navasota Center, Miller said, “The SO MUCH is an understatement when it comes to our little town and the potential ahead of us this year.”
Those attending in person or viewing via Zoom were treated to a summary of some surprising economic accomplishments in 2020, but Miller did not forget those impacted negatively.
He said, “I will mention Covid once right now and just say that it’s been an unwanted part of all of our lives. Many have struggled. We’ve lost family members. We’ve lost friends, and businesses have closed, but we are a strong, faith-based community and will only be stronger when it passes. And as my dad always told me, yes, this too shall pass.”
2020 sees record permits
Topping Miller’s list of highlights were rooftops and new businesses. Nearly $32 million was invested in Navasota in 2020. Eighty-four new home permits were issued, and 1,054 building inspections were completed.
Phase III of Pecan Lakes Estates began, and the Circle T Truck Stop and the Food Truck Park on LaSalle opened. Projects underway and expected to open in 2021 include the Rail and Rye Restaurant, Red Board Tavern and Table, The Smith Hotel, Key Performance Petroleum Facility, Squeaky Clean Car Wash, and the Western RV Park. A surprise announcement was that Chicken Express is coming to Navasota in 2021.
Expansions are taking place at Tractor Supply, United Ag & Turf, Navasota Abstract & Title and Mid-South Synergy.
Miller said, “Investment in existing properties, including many that are on the historic register, throughout 2020 and into 2021 has been more than in the last five years combined.”
City council approved a number ofnew or amended ordinances and the Planning and Zoning Commission rezoned almost 300 acres ofAgricultural Open Space “to streamline future development”
Shopping local pays
Addressing Navasota’s sales tax revenue, Miller said, “What most of us were stunned by was the fact that our sales tax has continued to remain strong. In fact, this year it was over 10%, and that’s a pretty big number when you’re not expecting it. In fact, this year starting in October, we’re already up 14%.”
Funded by sales tax revenue, the Navasota Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) awarded two business improvement grants and is working with 10 business prospects regarding new stores or relocating businesses to Navasota.
During the summer, the NEDC dispersed $52,750 in relief grants to Navasota’s small businesses and this winter it collaborated with the Navasota Grimes Chamber of Commerce on the Shop Local and Home for the Holidays campaign “to provide an economic boost to local businesses.”
Miller said, “The Shop Small Business Giveaway generated $9,293 from 28 local businesses over the holiday season.”
Street and drainage staff completed multiple street reconstruction and drainage improvements projects that will relieve flooding in downtown and other parts of the City one popular repair being Brule Drive. Some work was a coordinated effort with the NEDC and resulted in construction of a new downtown parking lot adding more than two dozen parking spaces.
In addition, the 2018 Community Development Block Grant improved sewer collection on the City’s west side. On Railroad Street, 680-feet of water main was replaced along with a corroded steel gas main on the Tenth Street bridge, and a new gas metering system was installed.
Miller said, “The Public Works Department replaced the outdated SCADA system for remote monitoring of the water plant, wells, water storage, wastewater lift station and treatment plan.”
According to Miller, Code Enforcement closed 128 cases, demolished six substandard buildings with five additional substandard buildings slated for demolition.
At City Hall
Back at City Hall, the Information Technology Department upgraded the security server and antivirus security. The Navasota Police Department successfully passed the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Audit
The Marketing Department continued to bring people and businesses to Navasota for last year’s 8th Annual Texas Birthday Bash, Sounds of Summer Concert, the first ever Navasota Freedom Festival July 4, KidFish and Home for the Holidays.
Miller said, ‘Grilling Stafford’ was created as a weekly video series to allow residents to ask any question of the city manager, in collaboration with the Navasota Examiner and Willy 98.7.”
The Artists in Residence program continues, the Navigate Navasota app will be launched this year.
The Finance Department with its “A” stable credit rating issued a $10 million Capital Improvement Bond.
Under new leadership at the Navasota Public Library, curbside pickup and Facebook Live story time were implemented and social media engagements rose by 276%.
Miller said, “The Tocker Grant of $41,350 allowed for the digitalization of Navasota Examiner microfilm. I hope you and your families will have the opportunity to check out our new and improved library!, brary!,
The Navasota Municipal Airport continues to grow with the construction of more box and T-hangars.
The Navasota Police Department received a Bullet-Proof Vest grant in the amount of $1,828.52. Blue Santa provided gifts to 65 children, and $800 was raised during No Razor November for cancer survivor Elizabeth LeFlore.
The Navasota Fire Department hired three new fulltime staff and the City’s efforts to build a new fire station continue. The Navasota Animal Shelter hosted five adoption events in 2020 and completed 87 adoptions.
Miller closed by saying, “You can see there are many opportunities ahead of us in 2021. What excites us are the possibilities combined with the talented City employees and specialists that persevered through many challenges in 2020 and grew from that experience. All of this means more efficient use ofyour tax dollars through lessons learned last year and opened many doors for us all in 2021.”