ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – $52 million worth of bond projects could be on the ballot for the City of Abilene in November including new recreation centers, a hike and bike trail around Kirby Lake, and continued improvements to the zoo.
Three different proposals will be on the November ballot if Abilene city council members give them the green light – $15 million for zoo improvements, $28 million for recreation centers at GV Daniels and Cesar Chavez, and $9 million for a hike and bike trail around Kirby Lake.
If voters pass any or all of these measures, the financial impact would not be reflected in the property tax rate until Fiscal Year 2025. Right now, the $52 million in bonds are projected to affect the tax rate by about $0.48 but that number could change as property values are assessed and the tax rate is finalized for that year.
City officials say putting the projects as three separate measures on the ballot lets voters choose exactly how they want their money spent.
The dollar amount for the recreation centers is so high because they have a vision for more than just a meeting space and a kitchen, which is what they are now, but if the measure does not get passed in the election, city officials will scale down their plans and try again in the future.
Talk of pickleball courts, other amenities, and even a pool were brought up during the discussion about the future of recreation centers in Abilene, though the City did say that the pool would not be part of the current proposed bond election.
If the Kirby Lake bond passes, the City says there should be enough money to eventually connect the trail to an ongoing sidewalk project on Maple Street, which would then connect to the Cedar Creek Hike and Bike Trail. Once all steps are completed, the trail system would be more than 22 miles, including the out-and-back section.
City officials hope that if voters approve $15 million to be used for zoo improvements, more private investments will come in as well. There is an entire master plan for the zoo, but the next improvements on the horizon could be a restaurant and new facilities for big cats like lions, jaguars, and cheetahs.
Abilene’s city council will discuss putting the bond proposals on the ballot during upcoming meetings in August.