Woodlake housing expands amid new projects

(Rigo Moran)

New housing developments motivates the city to increase its parks and infrastructure to maintain a high quality of living for its residents

WOODLAKE – The city is planning on adding more homes, parks and infrastructure to the town as it prioritizes the public’s interests and community lifestyle.

The city of Woodlake is continuing to work on the town to provide housing that meets the current needs of its residents in the Valley. Once the housing developments are done, Woodlake will have 233 new single-family homes. In the pursuit of the new housing, the city is prioritizing smaller, drought-tolerant lots, neighborhood parks and expanding the infrastructure to support the new homes.

“We had no housing here for forever. We went through a period where there were zero new houses,” City Manager Ramon Lara said. “We just finished up housing projects that built over 130 homes, and then followed up with three more. Over a five, six-year period, to have completed six housing projects – for a city our size – is huge.”

The city currently has three housing developments underway: Greenwood, Hillside and Kaweah. Greenwood is the biggest housing development the city is working on, which has 133 single-family homes.

According to Lara, they are now starting to build homes at Greenwood as well as complete other public improvements like curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streets and parks. There is no estimate as to the price of the homes as of yet; however, the homes will be single-story and two-story homes with three to five bedrooms.

The Hillside estate is the other main housing development underway. According to the report at the latest city council meeting, around 50% of the development is already finished and will include 75 single-family homes.

Hillside and Greenwood both offer neighborhood parks with playgrounds and arbors to their residents. The third housing development, Kaweah, only has 25 single-family homes and is considered close enough to Hillside Estates that the residents can use its neighborhood park.

The neighborhood parks allow the city to prioritize housing while sticking to smaller, drought-friendly and easier-to-maintain lots; because, according to Lara, maintaining a large lot in recent times is more challenging than it once was, making it hard to keep up with child-friendly amenities like swing sets and other outside playground toys.

“If you build neighborhood parks, you don’t have to have a swing set in the backyard,” Lara said.

Lara explained that the neighborhood parks provide centralized parking and spaces maintained by the city, which residents can enjoy with their children. Not only that, local citizens continue to show interest in the city parks, which he noted is apparent by the large increase in the city’s parks and rec program, which Lara says has over 400 kids participating in.

He continued to explain that a few years ago the city did a community survey to hear what the public thought the community was missing. According to Lara, “parks and recs” was mentioned in 66% of the answers. After the new housing developments are finished, the city will have a total of 10 parks.

“We really needed some nice single-family housing and we’re getting that. But those are only as good as your infrastructure,” Lara said.

Due to the new housing development, parks and the overall expansion of the city, the town needs to expand its infrastructure to keep up with the new homes. The largest infrastructure project currently in the works is a $12 million sewer project that will increase capacity and replace old lines. This project will allow the city to increase its infrastructure enough to sustain the city currently, as well as any other developments that happen in the future.

“This new sewer project that we’re doing is going to allow us to also grow … but always keep an eye on the future for growth and development,” Lara said.

The city also recently finished a project to increase sewer capacity for their industrial park, and also started working on a new storm drain project.

“When you combine the two sewer projects and the stormwater project, you’re talking about over $25 million in projects,” Lara said.

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