I recently had the opportunity to share our State of the City message at a joint luncheon hosted by the Highland Village Business Association and the Flower Mound and Lewisville Area Chambers of Commerce. We are a small community, only 5.5 square miles, and we are nearly built out. So as I prepared my presentation and reflected on Highland Village and what we’ve accomplished, I was compelled to tell our story – to look back at our beginnings and forward to our future. This month, I’d like to share some highlights from the presentation.
Just last year we celebrated our 50th anniversary as a city. Back in the early 60’s Highland Village began as a lakeside vacation destination with weekend vacation homes built along the shores of Lake Lewisville. Those people, along with others, decided to make the area their home and reside here permanently. As a city we grew slowly at first and then in the early 80’s, similar to other communities in North Texas, we had a massive residential boom.
As Highland Village grew in population, we experienced the growing pains associated with rapid development. One thing our residents told us consistently was the desire to maintain the natural beauty of our city, to look for ways to incorporate open space to provide opportunities for activity and family gatherings.
In 2004 our residents expressed the importance of this desire by approving a half-cent sales tax specifically for the construction of trails and soccer fields within Highland Village. Over the last ten years we have been able to build nearly ten miles of trails as part of the Inland Trail system. We currently have a little over four miles more in design. According to our trail master plan, when it is all said and done we’ll have a 30 mile network of trails, paths and walkways within Highland Village. We are very excited to open the tunnel under FM 2499 that will connect City Trail with Castlewood Trail. When we developed the master plan for our trail system, we knew crossing FM 2499 would be a challenge so we had the tunnel under the roadway installed while FM 2499 expansion was constructed. The tunnel has been sealed until we had the funding to connect the two trails. At our last meeting in February we took the first step in opening the tunnel by approving the contract to relocate a water line that is currently in the way of the trail and tunnel connection.
Also part of the half-cent sales tax funding is the construction of soccer fields within Highland Village. We just received and presented to the community the completed plans for the development of Doubletree Ranch Park. This park will feature soccer fields along with a pavilion with a great lawn, a fishing area and a natural conservation area with a lazy river. Doubletree Ranch Park is our largest park area and will truly be a beautiful asset to our community. I’m pleased we are able to retain this piece of Highland Village history and develop it in a manner worthy of its origins. You may not be familiar with the history of this property. Doubletree Ranch was owned by founding father and our first mayor, Robert DuVall. The DuVall family originally raised cattle and operated a dairy farm on the property. Several years later Doubletree became a gathering place, with square dances, corporate outings, local chamber events and school dances. Many of the Highland Village Business Association events were held there and it was the location for our first Salute Our Veterans lunch. In a 2002 bond election, the city proposed the purchase of Doubletree Ranch for $3.72M. The proposition was not approved by voters.
After a few years and changes in ownership of the property, Doubletree Ranch was up for auction in Denton County. In a partnership with the Trust for Public Land, the city was able to purchase the property for $2.9M in June of 2009. The plans to develop the property were added to the Community Development Corporation Capital Improvement Plan with a phased construction. We are now able to completely develop the property instead of in a phased approach because of the mitigation funds we received from TxDOT for their use of Copperas Branch Park during the widening of I-35. City staff has worked closely with the surrounding neighborhoods throughout the planning of the Doubletree Ranch Park. I am so anxious to see the property developed, I know it will be done in a way honoring to the memory of our first mayor, Robert DuVall, and his entire family.
The 35Express project is in full swing and we are now seeing preparatory bridge construction work on the shores of the lake. Our city staff members are attending monthly and bi-weekly meetings for construction updates. We are working with the contractor to lessen the impact to the east entrance of our city. I encourage you to visit 35express.org for the latest construction information and to sign up for email notifications on the project. We are so fortunate to have the A-train in place as an alternate commute option. If you haven’t yet taken the train, now would be a good time to try it.
In closing, at the State of the City lunch event we heard from Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden and Lewisville Mayor Pro-Tem Leroy Vaughn. It was good to hear of all our accomplishments and progress. And most of all it was good to be together, to see the community and the leaders of our three cities united in purpose to serve our residents and make our communities the best places to be in North Texas.