I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and you’re ready to make 2013 a great year. This month, as we start the New Year, I’d like to provide an assessment of the year gone by and a look to the plans for the future.
What were some of the highlights of 2012 for Highland Village and how will they affect the city in 2013?
Approval of a new development plan for The District of Highland Village. The District, initially approved by Highland Village City Council, was planned as a “Main Street” center with retail and residential townhomes. The new development plan will provide open air plazas for a mixed-use development of residential lofts, office professional facilities and retail uses. The new development plan is in direct concert with the City Council’s stated goal of seeking “superior development” for the entire site that will complement our community.
The announcement of Whole Foods at the Shops of Highland Village is big news for our city. Whole Foods has been a desire of residents in the region. The addition of this retailer to our shopping options is bound to be the beginning of further positive impacts for our community. The economic development work done by previous Councils and staff continues to prove Highland Village is a desired destination point.
Construction of trails throughout Highland Village is and will remain a top priority for this community. FM 2499 median beautification has been a priority for past and present Council and with Denton County Commissioner Mitchell’s assistance and with our TXDOT Green Ribbon Grant we are going to be able to enhance a corridor aesthetically and environmentally with an enhanced landscape design and improvements.
Interstate 35E project and the mitigation of Copperas Branch Park. The City Council and City staff has worked diligently to protect our interest in one of our biggest park assets. The encroachment of I-35E and the change of ingress and egress will be a major change for everyone; I believe the ultimate solution recommended through the environmental process will provided an enhancement to Copperas Branch Park and to the citizens of Highland Village.
The final phase of FM 407 construction is nearing completion, we have known for almost three years this time of headache, delay and frustration to the traveling public and to our local retailers was going to be a struggle. The good news is for 2013 the contractor and TXDOT are making every effort to expedite this project. The current schedule has the project being completed in October of 2013. However, I’m optimistic and feel a spring completion date is realistic.
Water conservation is a statewide priority and this last year the City of Highland Village took a very proactive step in the right direction with the installation of Automated Meter Reading for our entire water distribution system and the launching of our web based software program, Aqua Hawk, which allows our residents to monitor their own water usage. Our natural resource of water must be monitored and I feel Highland Village is poised to move in the right direction in water conservation.
Finally, we do not want to forget about a tremendous loss in the Highland Village family. On September 3, 2012, Highland Village Police Officer Luis Flores was found deceased at his Carrollton residence. Officer Flores has been with the Highland Village Police Department since 2008. Luis Flores was an officer of character and integrity and he has been sorely missed.
How will this year differ from last year?
This year we are continuing our focus on providing superior city services to our residents and the business community. We look forward to working with Whole Foods and the construction of their store in our city. The redevelopment, renaming and rebranding of the restaurant known as Life’s A Beach we understand will soon take place this spring, along with a potential new financial institution in our city, so I believe we can anticipate more development to follow.
With the I-35E construction two of our signature events will be changing, our Red, White & Blue event and the Highland Village Balloon festival. City staff is working hard to prepare.
What challenges and opportunities are anticipated for Highland Village in 2013?
I-35E widening and the construction of a new bridge across Lewisville Lake is going to be a challenge for our community. TxDOT will use Copperas Branch Park as their staging area for the construction. We know this will be a challenge for our residents as they travel in and out of our city as well as closing the use of our park. It’s also an opportunity for us as we look to enhance the entryway into our community, build trail connectivity and focus our attention on the development of Doubletree Ranch Park.
We have been blessed with a positive funding source from our economic development initiatives in the ability to fund our identified project through our half cent 4B program. That included the development of our Trail System Master Plan and our Soccer Facility to be located on Doubletree Ranch.
West Nile Virus is most likely here to stay so the need for everyone to be more proactive in mosquito control will be an urgent need this coming year.
How can residents contribute to Highland Village in 2013?
We have many volunteer opportunities available to our residents – from serving on boards and commissions to volunteering their time with the Highland Village Police Department. We also encourage our residents to shop our community. We have tools in place to assist. Highland Village ePerks is a monthly email newsletter full of coupons exclusively to Highland Village businesses. Sign up for the newsletter on the Highland Village Business Association website, www.thehvba.com or on our Facebook page. Speaking of the HVBA website, it is our community’s online business directory. We encourage our local businesses to submit their information to this free online resource. Residents can check the site for any type of business or service they need and do business with a fellow resident.
What are some of the city developments and projects residents can look forward to this year?
Trail construction and improvements are moving fast. We are working on Castlewood Trail which will connect City Trail with the western portion of our city via a tunnel under FM 2499. We are working on trails from Lions Club Park over to Doubletree Ranch Park. An additional parking lot is currently underway at Unity Park. This Park is our community park and is crowded on the weekends. The new parking lot will open in spring of 2013 and will provide much needed parking relief.
What are my hopes for Highland Village in the New Year?
I look forward to celebrating Highland Village’s 50th Anniversary with our staff and residents. We will hold a semi-formal Gala on February 16 to commemorate this milestone. I’d love to see our community come out to this event and celebrate with us. All the details can be found on the city website.
It is always nice to say that Highland Village is a safe community – in fact the safest in North Texas for the last ten years. That designation did not come easily. Our Police Department has worked hard to educate and partner with the community in crime prevention and awareness. It is my hope that we continue this great relationship and that our residents feel secure in their neighborhoods and homes.
And it is my hope that our city, our residents and our businesses have a healthy and prosperous year.
What are my resolutions for 2013?
Personally, I resolve to be more obedient to God. It is my desire to follow Christ’s example of service through volunteering to help others in our community. I want to enjoy my retirement and plan to take a nice vacation with my wife. It is important we cherish the time we have with each other and make happy memories. I want to be a better steward of our earth and plan to reduce, reuse where I can and recycle. And I want to take better care of myself by eating healthy food, exercising and working to lose weight.