As our first year of service on the Town Council comes to a close, we thought it appropriate to take a look back at the progress that has occurred in Flower Mound over the past twelve months. After the May 2010 election, we inherited an oil and gas drilling environment that was out-of-control, a Town Council that was perceived as being unresponsive to its citizens, and a budget that was challenging to balance in an unstable economy.
From the beginning, we have approached each and every issue with an internal and external focus on resident health, safety, and welfare. Our first order of business was to act upon the gas drilling concerns the community had been expressing to the previous administration. Almost immediately, we ratified a petition submitted by 6,000 voters, enacted a 180-day moratorium on applications related to centralized collection facilities, enacted a 90-day moratorium on applications for new gas drilling operations, and appointed the Oil and Gas Advisory Board.
During the past year, we also purchased new air quality monitoring equipment, approved a new gas well inspector position, increased the frequency of our own air quality monitoring, and worked with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to install a 24-hour, permanent air monitoring station in Flower Mound. The Oil and Gas Advisory board presented their findings to us in January and the proposed ordinance amendments are currently under review. Addressing urban gas drilling in Flower Mound will be an on-going issue well into the future, but as long as we are on the Town Council it will remain a priority.
Engaging the community and involving those residents who want to make a difference in Flower Mound was also a priority from day one. We reinvigorated all of our boards and commissions and charged their members with proactively participating in the decision making process. We also created a sign committee to review the ordinances that govern signage in Flower Mound and a property standards committee to ensure our community remains one of the most beautiful in North Texas.
We have continually dedicated a significant amount of resources to improving mobility within the Town. Numerous local roads and state thoroughfares are currently being improved using dedicated sales tax and external funding sources including Denton County Bonds and TxDOT. While the on-going construction may prove to be an inconvenience right now, the quality-of-life benefits we will all realize in reduced traffic and more efficient commutes will be well worth the wait.
Increasing service levels for residents is an objective we also address on a daily basis. We are currently reviewing solid waste removal contract proposals and anticipate providing Flower Mound residents with an improved level of services at no cost increase. We’ve opened two new fire stations within the past 12 months and put a new brush truck into service using a State of Texas grant. In addition, the police department decreased the crime rate and lowered response times and obtained CALEA certification, and Flower Mound was ranked by the FBI in December as one of the safest cities in the United States, within in its population category.
The Town’s Economic Development and business retention efforts have paid off tenfold during the past year. Realizing our goal of identifying Flower Mound as a medical destination, we celebrated the opening of the Texas Presbyterian Hospital and broke ground on numerous other medical-related development projects. In addition, the Lakeside Business District continued to flourish and many new businesses opened their doors throughout the community. Our aggressive legislative agenda has also been productive during the current 82nd State Legislative session in Austin. We continue to actively participate in the process as bills progress through committees to both the House and the Senate, and are monitoring and responding to numerous bills that would potentially affect our residents or the Town.
Here at home, we are working to preserving the quality of life by raising the profile of our local arts community through increased support and prioritization with the Parks, Art, and Library Services Board. We are also hard at work with the board on two major parks projects. Once complete, the Wilson-Carmel tract will be a 94-acre community park complete with an amphitheatre, multi-use trails, a dog park, and pavilions. When it opens this summer, Twin Coves Park on Lake Grapevine will provide residents with direct lake access, day-use facilities, and overnight camping.
While there are currently an unprecedented number of capital improvement, transportation, and economic development projects underway in Flower Mound, we have remained true to supporting the Master Plan and SMARTGrowth Program in all of our project evaluations. We support quality development, including mixed-use, in the right location, but have also defended the town against undesirable development projects that would have brought thousands of apartments to the community. Ensuring Flower Mound maintains the unique look and feel our residents cherish while also attracting quality development is a goal we continue to pursue today.
Few North Texas cities are building major community parks, improving numerous roads, constructing fire stations, and expanding services in this challenging economy. We are mindful of your tax dollars and strive to maintain or improve service levels, but we will not even consider an increase in the ad valorem tax rate. Conservative budgeting and leadership have allowed us to continue to flourish in time with many other entities are experiencing tax increases and service level decreases.
Our efforts to focus on quality of life issues and ensure resident health, safety, and welfare remain a priority and have been recognized not only here in the community, but also on a regional, state, and national level. During the past 12 months, D magazine recognized Flower Mound as a top ten suburb, CNN and Money Magazine ranked the community in list of top-earning towns, and Scenic Texas honored us with an inaugural gold scenic city award.
External and internal parties are now threatening to fracture the community by utilizing covert efforts to undermine the coalition we built. Gas drillers and high-density apartment builders are waiting for us to fall asleep so they can come back into town; but Flower Mound has worked way too hard over the past year to achieve leadership status to let it be jeopardized by those who would not defend the Master Plan or consider the residents a first priority. As long as we and those who share our vision are on the Town Council, Northern, Filidoro, Lyda, and Hayden will continue to work for resident health, safety and welfare, listen to the community, and ensure Flower Mound maintains the qualities that make us all so proud to call it home.