As we begin 2016 I would like to take this opportunity to highlight 2015 and provide a look at initiatives for 2016.
We opened Lakeside Community Park which, as the name suggests, borders Lewisville Lake. This property was seized by the federal government in 2003 and, since the Highland Village Police Department assisted with serving the warrants, we were able to request a deed transfer of the property. It was a long process to bring the property to its current use as a public park and it would not have happened without the assistance of our Congressman, Dr. Michael Burgess and his staff.
Council approved an emergency radio system upgrade to meet compliance standards and enhance reception, replacement of the current Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management System (CAD/RMS) with a more efficient and advance software which allows for the potential to integrate dispatch centers between Highland Village and Flower Mound. This will enhance our response times and communication throughout the city and the region.
As we closed out the budget process this summer Council initiated the Fire Department Service Level Task Force to determine the appropriate and desired service level standards for our fire department. The Task Force is made up of seven residents and two City Council members. The Task Force has been meeting to determine and provide recommendations on such things as appropriate coverage and resources in facilities, staffing requirements and service response times throughout the entire city along with potential fire station locations and future budget implications. Historically, every capital project within the city has been done by a citizen task force with opportunities for public input. We look to receive recommendations from the Task Force in early 2016.
Highland Village, like all of North Texas, was impacted by the floods of late spring and early summer. City parks bordering the lake were flooded and therefore closed to the public for safety reasons. Construction projects that were underway were put on hold until the rain and flood waters subsided. Particularly, the Sellmeyer Lane project and the construction of Doubletree Ranch Park were both delayed. City staff did a great job cleaning the parks quickly and opening them for public use. We are working with the contractor for both the Sellmeyer Lane project and Doubletree Ranch Park to move as quickly as possible. Of course, a wet winter looms in the future.
How will 2016 differ from 2015?
It is our goal to continue our excellent service to our residents in 2016. We have had and will have several key positions within the city open as valued employees are retiring. Our City Secretary, Diane A. Callahan, retired in September 2015. We were fortunate to bring Angela Miller to Highland Village. Angela was City Secretary in Farmers Branch and has over 20 years experience in municipal government.
New in public safety this year is an emergency radio system upgrade to meet compliance standards and enhance reception, replacement of the current Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management System (CAD/RMS) with a more efficient and advance software which allows for the potential to integrated dispatch centers between Highland Village and Flower Mound. This will enhance our response times throughout the city and the region.
We have several capital improvement projects scheduled for this year, including road construction and replacement of the existing water line on Highland Shores Boulevard and Highland Village Road. The water line replacement projects will happen first, during the winter and spring months. The Highland Shores water line replacement project consists of replacing water lines on Highland Shores Boulevard from Highland Village Road to Briarhill Boulevard and adding a hike and bike trail from Remington East to Highland Village Road. The Highland Village Road water line replacement is from Highland Shores Boulevard to FM 407 and will replace the existing eight inch water line with a ten inch water line.
An overlay of Highland Village Road from Brazos Boulevard to the KCS railroad tracks is scheduled for summer 2016. Sellmeyer Lane, currently under construction, should be completed by early summer this year. The completed roadway will be straightened and widened to a 31-foot concrete paved road with curb and gutter. There will also be a ten-foot wide hide and bike trail to connect the trail at Murray Park and the Highland Village Road trail.
Doubletree Ranch Park is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016. This new facility will be a gem for our community with soccer fields, a splash pad area, a great lawn, natural habitat viewing area and beautiful pavilion and snack bar. Stay tuned for opening activities.
The completion of Doubletree Ranch Park and the construction of Sellmeyer Lane will complete the main spine of our trail system. The Inland Trail system began in 2004 with a voter approved ½ cent sales tax dedicated to the funding of trails and a soccer complex. The City began receiving revenue from the tax in June 2005 and to date we have completed nearly 9 miles of the trail system. The completion of Doubletree Ranch Park and Sellmeyer Lane translates to a trail system connecting the eastern portion of our city to the western portion. That, along with the tunnel under FM 2499 gives our residents the ability to walk, ride or run from one side of our city to the other.
Challenges that Highland Village faces in 2016 continue to be road construction and transportation on I-35E. The staff and council will continue to monitor these projects for the residents and visitors of Highland Village to insure their safety along with ingress and egress into our city.
For all of you looking to give back to the community this year, you can contribute to our community by volunteering to serve on one of several boards and commissions. There is an application process that takes place in July and August with the City Council appointing the positions at the end of September. Residents are encouraged to seek election to serve on Council as well.
As always, shopping Highland Village is another way residents can contribute to the community. Tax dollars spent here have helped to keep our tax rate at the same level for many years and have funded our trail system and the soon-to-be-open Doubletree Ranch Park. Besides, shopping local supports the business owners and managers who have chosen Highland Village as their home.
Last but certainly not least is participating in our activities and events. Celebrate Highland Village is a family favorite event along with the Lion’s Club Balloon Festival, Fall Festival, and concerts/movies in the park. We have a very active Parks Department and all of these activities plus more can be found on the Highland Village website.
It is my hope for Highland Village in the coming year that we continue to provide exceptional services to the businesses, residents and visitors of Highland Village. Over the years we have worked hard to provide these services in a cost effective manner and remain fiscally sound. We have earned a Standard and Poor’s rating of AA+ and will continue to maintain that rating. My continued hope for Highland Village is we are the friendly city where families choose to live, work and play and where their children do the same.