The Dallas Morning News recently published a report on government transparency. The publication undertook a year-long study of more than 100 cities, school districts and counties in North Texas to see how they handled their public information. Highland Village scored an A in overall transparency. In order to receive this grade, procedures and processes must be followed in everything the city does. And, I’ve learned, this means things don’t happen quickly. While that may come across as a negative comment, the positive aspect is I have learned that when Highland Village commits to a project they get it done. The proof of this is, as they say, in the pudding. I’d like to share with you a few of the long-term projects coming to fruition in Highland Village.
The pedestrian tunnel under FM 2499 will soon be open to the public, providing trail users a safe way to cross FM 2499 and thereby fully utilize the city’s trail system. The tunnel under FM 2499 connects to City Trail, provides an extension to the Castlewood subdivision HOA trail and a connection to Southwood Drive. In keeping with the City’s proactive community policing model, security cameras will be installed. This tunnel has been 12 years in the making. In 2003 during the FM 2499 public hearings, the City of Highland Village worked with TxDOT to address several issues impacting the residents of Highland Village – one of which was a safe means of accessing the trails on the west and east of FM 2499. A tunnel under FM 2499 was the agreed upon solution. The City submitted a change order to TxDOT to build the tunnel as the contractor constructed FM 2499. The tunnel was then sealed until the funding became available for the construction of the connecting trails. The funding became available and the pedestrian tunnel project began in May 2014.
The construction of Doubletree Ranch Park is progressing as scheduled. So how does this project fit in the grouping of a long-term project coming to fruition? The City purchased the 37-acre property in 2009 at an auction held at the Denton County Courthouse. Doubletree Ranch has a long history within Highland Village as it was home of the first mayor of Highland Village, Robert DuVall, and for many years served as the business and community gathering place. When the opportunity to purchase the property presented itself, the City was able to utilize 4B sales tax funds and construct soccer fields, an eastern extension of the trail system and maintain a conservation area. After an initial clean-up of the property, the site was open for public use until the funding was available to construct the park in accordance with the desires of the community. The park is now closed as the construction takes place to build Doubletree Ranch Park into the gem of our city with soccer fields, a looping trail system, a splash pad, concession area, pavilion, fishing pier and a conservation area. Stay tuned for the announcement of grand opening events for this historical park this fall.
These two projects were funded by 4B sales tax dollars. This in itself is testament of a long-term project coming to fruition. In 2004 the City asked residents to approve a ½ cent 4B sales tax with the dedicated purpose of funding soccer fields and a trail system. Voters approved the proposition and the City has done an amazing job building trails throughout the city providing mobility, fitness opportunities and an enhanced quality of life for our residents. We’re not quite done with the construction of our trail system, but soon the eastern and western portions and all points in between will seamlessly meet via a concrete trail.
And finally, let’s talk water. Here in Highland Village we have fortunately avoided the drastic water restrictions and shortages many Texas cities have experienced. That wasn’t always the case and, in fact, there was a time when Highland Village ran out of water. It was at that time those serving on the Council developed a relationship with the Upper Trinity Regional Water District to purchase ground water to go along with the City’s well water. The City’s water infrastructure is funded separate from the city’s general revenue fund to ensure consistent water supply for our residents. Most recently the City conducted a water supply study to address our increasing water supply and storage needs. One of the outcomes of that study is the improvements to the ground storage tank and pump station on FM 407 by the KCS railroad tracks. The two storage tanks at this location were some of the older facilities in the city and no longer sufficient in size to operate at maximum efficiency. Now under construction is a 1.4 MG ground storage reservoir, which will be a taller and larger tank than the previous two tanks at that site and will bring the City’s water to design capacity.
We have a lot to be proud of Highland Village. Over the years the leaders of our community have worked to develop Highland Village in a fiscally responsible way that meets the needs of our residents and provide a beautiful location to call home. If you have questions or comments about our City, I encourage you to contact myself, any Councilmember or city staff. We are all here to serve you. I am honored to serve as your mayor and I’m proud to call Highland Village home.