Friday, June 14, 2024

Around Argyle – May 2023

This is my last column as mayor. On May 6, the citizens of Argyle decided what my role will be in the life of our town going forward. There is important work to be done. More about what lies ahead later in this column.

What We Accomplished

 I am proud of what the town was able to get done while I served as acting mayor and mayor starting over two years ago. Here are a few highlights:

Argyle slowed down residential growth and sent the message that high-density subdivisions would no longer be considered for approval.

I established a regional approach to pooling resources and influence with our neighboring jurisdictions to fund road improvements and address other shared issues, including the FM 407 Breakout project, which will relieve congestion at I-35W within the next two years.

Our increased visibility and regional influence has made itself felt in many ways, not least in the leadership that we demonstrated in forming a coalition of five towns (Argyle, Northlake, Bartonville, Justin and Flower Mound) to oppose Oncor transmission line routes that would have damaging effects on the towns who joined us. We are anticipating good news because of our efforts in the near future.

The Crawford Road, Harpole Road, South Gibbons Road, Charyl Lynn Drive and Stonecrest Road projects were completed, with C Taylor and Hickory Hill in the works, using the new design and soils stabilization approach that I initiated, leaving Argyle roads in their best condition in decades.

The Argyle Landing Development Agreement was signed, preventing the creation of a warehouse/distribution center development on FM 407.

We negotiated an Interlocal Agreement with Denton County for the cost-sharing of the improvements to Stonecrest Road.

We upgraded every aspect of how the town provides information to the citizens from internet meeting broadcast quality to an improved website.

The town has an excellent staff that responds professionally and effectively to policy direction from mayor and council. I am looking forward to applauding their accomplishments in the years to come.

What Lies Ahead

My experience as mayor has given me some insight into key objectives that I believe the leaders of Argyle should commit to achieving if our town is to sustain itself, meet the needs of its residents, and play its part in our larger Denton County community. I hope that our leaders will give these points their attention, regardless of how the election turns out.

Put a code of conduct and council relations policy platform in place immediately for promoting ethical leadership and civility. Mayor, council members and citizens in appointed positions should agree to follow a policy that requires dignified and mutually respectful interactions with the public, the staff and other members of the governing body. The public should demand that a written code of conduct and a policy that guides interactions between council, staff and the public should be implemented as the first order of business by the new council.

Work urgently toward realizing a commercial property tax base to remedy the revenue shortfall that is threatening the Argyle Independent School District. Since early 2021, I have been calling for action to address the overnight growth of AISD from 2,000 enrolled students to a projected 10,000 or more just a few years from now. The pace of enrollment growth has taxed the district’s finances and AISD leadership has tough choices ahead. The mix of residential to commercial property in the district’s 35 square miles is challenging and progress toward increasing commercial property tax revenue to feed the schools has been far too slow.

No matter what your preferences may be for the pace of growth in general within Argyle or the desirability of commercial development on I-35W, it is undeniable that the schools need funding, and the town is not doing enough to address the challenge. The next town council must recognize its responsibility to make supporting the school district a top priority.

Argyle’s government should also engage with AISD leadership to consider ideas and initiatives for promoting solutions to the problems that both jurisdictions have in common. Routine workshops or town hall forums could be a first step in building our larger community and dealing with the problems of growth constructively.

Give every citizen a say in determining the future of Argyle. The current council majority has not encouraged citizens to come forward and participate in the life of the town unless they share an anti-growth policy preference. The words “thoughtful growth” and “smart growth” have been just words. In fact, our town has been almost entirely passive about promoting constructive growth that could help us to pay our bills and build up a portfolio of taxable commercial property to support capital spending.

In 2017, when several large subdivisions were approved at once and citizens voted to slow things down, the council likewise did not put a priority on listening to what the people of the town were telling them. A town government that is out of touch is a theme that seems to recur in Argyle.

The people who lead this town must seek to embrace a diversity of points of view if we are to develop a healthy political culture and get constructive things done for the citizens. This philosophy cannot be put in place unless people are recruited to do the work of the town on boards and commissions without screening for loyalty or policy preferences.

Together, we can develop a healthy political culture that serves everyone from seniors to young families, longtime residents and those just arriving in our beautiful community. With civil servants, board members and commissions representing all lived experiences, we will provide a better future for the town of Argyle.

Argyle’s citizens and leaders have important work to do as we face serious challenges in the next few years. I know that the town will rise to the occasion and that our best days are ahead of us.

It has been a blessing to serve as your mayor. I look forward to seeing you around town and God bless our town.

 Argyle Seniors Update
Submitted by Stella McDaniel

Some-Bunny Special: Stella McDaniel at the Argyle Seniors’ Easter lunch.

The Argyle seniors had a fun time at their Easter luncheon of ham and all the trimmings. The ladies wore Easter hats they had decorated and paraded around to see who the winner was. All were winners, but Stella McDaniel got the prize.

Mayor Livingston brought us up to date on road construction etc. We are so fortunate to have a mayor as dedicated to his job as Mayor Livingston. Thank you Mayor for all you have accomplished for Argyle. Your shoes will be hard to fill.

The May Theme and luncheon will be Cinco de Mayo so if you want and wish to dress accordingly, it will be lots of fun, and we’ll enjoy Mexican food. Everyone attending is asked to either bring a side dish to share or donate to the Seniors’ fund.

For activities you may contact Publicly Chair Gabbie Su at 416-516-5295.

Thursday June 1st will be our next luncheon. Hope to see everyone there!

For more information you may contact Stella McDaniel at 940-391-6686 or Vivian McLain at 940-222-6291.

Our deepest sympathy to John and Jody Bellinghausen in the loss of John’s sister.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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