This month I’d like to provide an update on the projects City staff have been working on and give you a brief look at our upcoming budget. The fiscal year for the City is between October 1 and September 30 so staff and Council spend the summer months preparing and presenting the budget.
I always look at the budget with the perspective of how our residents will benefit from each decision we make. It is always our goal to be responsible with your money, transparent in how your money is spent, and conscientious of ensuring you receive the best service and amenities your money can buy.
While this year has certainly been an unusual one and in some ways hampered the work we were able to do, it has also been a time where we were able to accomplish much. In 2018 Highland Village voters approved a $7.15M bond to address targeted street improvements and parks and recreation improvements. Here is an update on those projects:
Unity Park is a highly utilized park that includes multiple amenities for resident use. Improvements include:
- Ponds – The ponds required dredging to remove the accumulated silt as well as improvements to address drainage considerations. The dredging is complete, and construction to replace the drainage pipe will commence immediately following the completion of Kids Kastle.
- Kids Kastle Play Structure – This playground was originally constructed in the 1990’s as a community build project. Following a fire in the 2000’s, it was rebuilt again as a community project. The play area is at the end of its useful life and in need of replacement, this time with new recycled plastic materials that will provide increased safety and reduced maintenance. The intent was to again approach this as a community build project. Play by Design was the vendor selected to facilitate the community build with a targeted date of March 2020 for the build. However, the shutdown associated with COVID-19 delayed the project, also prompting reconsideration of how to proceed with the build. A determination was made to add additional oversight from Play by Design and proceed with two phases: Phase I would utilize City Staff to install vertical posts and other foundation elements of the playground. This was accomplished in May 2020. Phase II, targeted for February 2021 will solicit community involvement along with City Staff to finish the project.
- Softball Field – A section of the park was targeted to be redeveloped to add an additional softball field to complement the existing baseball fields. This project was substantially complete as of June 2020.
Other parks projects approved in the bond election include:
- Brazos Park Parking Lot – (Completed in February 2019) – Popularity of the fields prompted the need to increase the size of the parking area by an additional 50 spaces.
- Walking path at Victoria Park – (Bid / Construction winter 2020) – The current walking track is badly cracked and uneven, causing a tripping hazard to patrons. The track will be resurfaced and replaced with a six foot concrete path. The project concept was to rehab the existing walking trail around the perimeter of the park. However, feedback from a resident prompted consideration of a redesign of the trail to traverse through the park to encourage the transition of elimination of organized soccer utilization in lieu of open space, as originally intended for this park. The park is located in an Oncor easement, thus prompting required approval of Oncor for any design changes to the park. Proposals have been submitted to Oncor, with discussions in progress to ensure sufficient safety for park patrons in consideration of the existing overhead power lines.
- Highland Village Road Sidewalk – (Bid / Construction winter 2020) – Construction of the sidewalk on Highland Village Road from the Municipal Complex to Sellmeyer Lane to increase pedestrian safety and connect residents to amenities along Highland Village Road. A large number of residents adjacent to this section have no access to the Inland Trail System to connect to Lions Club Park, Lakeside Community Park, and Doubletree Ranch Park. This presents a potential safety issue as people walk the two-lane Highland Village Road to access these amenities.
- Sunset Point Park – (Complete spring 2020) – Sunset Point Park is classified as a mini park and serves local residents as a neighborhood park site providing water access to Lewisville Lake. The development addressed erosion issues and safety concerns along with enhanced roadway completion to facilitate emergency vehicle access and turn around capabilities.
Street improvements were also included in the bond election. The City of Highland Village conducts a Pavement Condition Inventory Survey to determine the priority of streets that need repair, overlay, or full reconstruction. The streets addressed with this bond have reached the end of their life cycle and are in need of full reconstruction. The project was divided into four roughly equal segments. They are as follows:
- Phase 1 – Complete: Rosedale, Ranier, Snowdon Ct., Sheldon Ct., Catesby Pl., Shasta Ct. (overlay added), Sugar Loaf Ct. (overlay added).
- Phase 2 – Construction substantially complete: Baird Circle, Donna Circle, Oak Forest, Winding Creek, Dickinson, East Whittier (overlay added).
- Phase 3: Currently under construction: Park Lane, Creek Place, Arbor Ct., DuVall Blvd., Rain Tree, Greensprings.
- Phase 4: Currently in design, with anticipated construction in the winter of 2020: Rockland, Hickory Ridge, S. Clearwater, N. Clearwater, Scenic, Springway, Pecan.
As we move into the new budget year our outlook is generally positive. The economic downturn brought about by COVID-19 has not significantly impacted us. We are fortunate to have a solid end to this budget year to set the stage as we move into 2020/21. Our sales tax revenue is projected to remain flat which is better than a decrease a lot of other communities are facing. Still the budget is considered in light of the events of this past year – the disaster declaration due to COVID-19 and the subsequent economic shutdown, the social issues at the forefront, and the effects of the new legislation brought about by Senate Bill 2 – and we continue to make it our goal to provide the highest standard of service to our residents in the most efficient manner possible. Staff will continue to present the budget for Council consideration at the two meetings in August and we will vote on the budget at the two meetings in September.
If you are interested in staying up-to-date on City news, projects, and initiatives, I encourage you to sign up for the City Manager’s Report. Just visit the City website and search for City Manager’s Report.
As businesses look for ways to make up for lost time during the COVID-19 shutdown we are experiencing more door-to-door solicitation from different businesses. Highland Village has a solicitor’s ordinance in place which requires solicitors to obtain a permit from the Highland Village Police Department before going door-to-door in Highland Village. If you have someone come to your door you can ask to see their permit. If you are concerned, you have the option to not answer your door or call the police non-emergency number at 972-317-6551. Of course if it is an emergency, dial 911.
August is back to school for many in our community. This school year is definitely going to be a different and challenging one for all involved. I encourage you to support each other in your individual education decisions for your children, support our teachers and school district, and above all support your children by remaining positive with them. This is a difficult time for everyone and now more than ever we need to remember to share compassion and empathy for everyone. Our community has shown we can pull together and overcome so much – I have faith we will do the same as the school year begins.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as your Mayor. I love Highland Village and I’m honored to serve each of you.