In this first column of the new year I typically provide a look back at the previous year and give you a taste of what is planned for this year. As I do that I can’t help but pause as I realize this is my last “new year” message to our community.
Yes, I’ve often joked about being “mayor for life,” but the reality is my time is coming to an end. I have reached my term limit and will be handing over the title of mayor to someone else in May this year. As I have said every month in my column, I have been blessed by the opportunity to serve Highland Village.
In my role as mayor I have had the opportunity to meet so many people in our community, spend time with the students in our schools, work closely with local, state, and federal leaders, welcome new businesses, serve alongside dedicated council and board and commission members, and get to know our staff who provide service on a daily basis. This city is truly a special place. I will always be thankful for my opportunity to serve and for the wonderful people of our City.
Now, on with the recap and look to the future.
When we began resuming our normal events and activities in 2021, we hit the ground running! We held Celebrate Highland Village at Copperas Branch Park and provided our residents first access to the best parking spots. The event was a huge success and the Parks Department will be working to make it even better this year. Movies in the Park and our Concerts in the Park were well attended. This year the TXFallenPD Tribute Event raised over $75,000 for the Texas Police Chiefs Association’s Officer Survivor Fund to provide financial assistance to the families of Texas police officers who die in the line of duty. Our holiday events at Doubletree Ranch Park and The Shops at Highland Village were the best yet. Our community has shown us they were ready to gather again and enjoy our events.
Several new businesses have opened in Highland Village. Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, Hugo’s Lost Colony, Kendra Scott, Be Legend Gaming, See’s Candy, Snow & Waves Café, La Myrrah, and Hidden Gems Boutique to name a few.
And as we look forward to projects this year, the city is undertaking an update to our major planning documents. The city is nearing buildout and future development must enhance the quality of life for our citizens while maximizing economic benefit to the city. The city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Parks, Recreation and Open Space and Trail System Master Plan will be updated and a new plan, FM 407 Trail Corridor and Amenity Master Plan, will be created. These documents are designed to serve as the city’s road map for long-range priorities, future growth, and developing a sense of place within our community. Community input is needed and valued. The city plans to use the SpeakUpHV.com website to provide information and opportunities for the community to provide feedback. There will also be several public meetings, the first scheduled for February 23. Stay tuned to see how you can be involved in creating the future of Highland Village.
Our public works department finished up the 2018 Street Bond project providing new overlay on 22 streets in the city. Over the last five years we have made improvements to 53 of our roadways. Other street improvements include replacement of 20 concrete panels throughout the city and asphalt overlay on streets in need of maintenance or construction.
In December, Council approved issuance of Certificates of Obligation totaling $15.75M for street and drainage and park improvements. The Certificates of Obligation will coincide with expiring debt and therefore have no impact to the city’s ad valorem tax rate. During the budget process, the Capital Improvement Program identified projects to be included in this issuance, including $8.85M for street and drainage capital projects and $6.413M for park improvements.
I am grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to serve our community. If you have ever considered serving Highland Village as a council member, now is the time to submit the needed paperwork for a place on the ballot. Residents can file an application for a place on the ballot for the May 7 election between January 19 and February 18. This year Council Places 1 (Mayor), 2, 4, and 6 are up for re-election. Visit the City website for more details or contact the City Secretary’s office at 972-899-5132.
Speaking of our city website, city staff just launched a re-designed site. I encourage you to check it out and let us know what you think. Staff used user statistics and the results from the survey conducted last year as they redesigned the site. When you visit the site, be sure to click on “Stay Notified” and sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter, The Villager, and the weekly City Manager’s Report. Make this the year you stay informed and never miss important information or one of our great events.
I am wishing you all a wonderful 2022! Let’s remember that no matter the circumstance around us, we have the ability to choose joy each and every day.