James Cookston's Street

James Cookston, who has lived in Royse City for 70 years, points out parts of the street that he would lose as parking under the proposed million-dollar renovation to Howard Street.

Royse City officials have said they are looking forward to some much-needed improvements to Howard Street, located within in the town’s heritage preservation district, but at least one resident is protesting the changes.

About 15 residents attended a walking tour of the street on April 16, when they had a chance to ask questions to Kevin Shepherd, an engineer with Verdunity, which is handling the designs for the renovation project, roughly estimated to cost $1.4 million.

The project will reconstruct the street with concrete, and add new water and sewer lines along with drainage. City officials are also planning to add parking lanes to the street, as well as sidewalks to improve walkability to Main Street. Construction would take about nine months.

Shepherd has said that the city’s plans are to keep the east side of the street residential, while making the west side available for retail and mixed use.

Though he said the tour was productive, Shepherd had said not every person he spoke to during the event agreed with renovation plans.

On April 23, one of those individuals, James Cookston, approached the Royse City Council to raise his concerns with the Howard Street renovation project.

Cookston, who was born and raised in Royse City, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in the Korean War. He told council members that he disagrees with narrowing the street.

“The basic reason I am here is because folks came down Howard Street and informed us and told us that our street is going to be narrowed by about eight feet,” Cookston said during the public hearing portion of the April meeting.

He said he is worried that narrowing the street will not prevent cars from traveling in the area. City officials had told residents on the tour that part of the renovation project is to make sure that less cars cut through the street, one of the concerns that they had raised.

Cookston also said he was dismayed to find that his side of the street will now allow for parking.

“I’m wanting this street to stay four-lanes wide where you can park on each side of the street and you can drive up and down the street down the middle,” he said.

Cookston, who was on the city’s first-ever planning and zoning commision, also said he was not happy with what he described as a lack of approachability in city staff.

“Anytime I have to say something at city hall, you go up there ad no one is available. No one is there,” he said.

Cookston, who has called Royse City home for 70 years, said he felt ignored by city council. He told the Herald-Banner he does not expect any changes from his efforts to speak to elected officials.

This report has been edited to state the correct type of parking lanes that will be added to Howard Street. A previous version stated the incorrect style of lanes. We regret the error.