School is back in session and it seems like the hallways are even more full at our schools. Johnie Daniel elementary opened in Pecan Square, just in time, even though some landscaping and the area around the school is still being finished up. Crossing guards are still needed. If you have the inclination and the time, please reach out to town hall for information. We are continuing to anticipate up to one school a year opening in either Argyle or Northwest ISD serving Northlake students for several years to come.
We were excited to welcome a new visitor at several school openings, Representative Kronda Thimesch, who was elected to the State House for her first term last year. Recently she opened her district office in Canyon Falls at the Southwest Courthouse. Her passion for education and children is evident in her first term, informed by five years of experience serving as a board member in Lewisville ISD. She has made a strong commitment to our growing area and we appreciate her presence out here to observe our issues and advocate for us.
Like many jurisdictions, we are working hard at finishing up our budget season. This year we are tapping the brakes on personnel growth with no net new full-time hiring and using technology and process updates to help our staff streamline their operations to scale up with our growth. This is critical to be able to absorb the growth without over-hiring to service our residents. The council was pleased to deliver a budget which sustained our position as one of the lowest cost home-rule cities in DFW while continuing to advance dozens of critical infrastructure projects and maintain our public safety and security posture. Hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding is being allocated to our area for road projects to bring needed mobility options. The projects will be breaking ground over the next couple years.
Several new road projects were just finished in time for the start of school. The light at Cleveland-Gibbs and FM 1171, repaving of the approaches at the Cleveland Gibbs bridge over I-35W, turn lanes off FM 407 and the new Mulkey Lane south of Pecan Square. These projects by TxDOT and developers were just in time to help with back-to-school traffic safety and mobility. Additional lanes on FM 407 near Northlake Commons, additional lanes on Cleveland Gibbs near Pecan Square, the Cleveland-Gibbs extension to Robson Ranch and a rebuild of Faught Road are all starting or slated to begin in the next year.
Given the cost of everything is soaring, we’re particularly sensitive to the growth in utility costs. This year the council has decided to invest in converting our water meters across the town to cellular transmitters which eliminates the need to drive the streets and collect readings. It also will make hourly readings available to residents and businesses to help manage their usage better. Irrigation continues to be the single most significant driver raising rates for water because of the infrastructure needed to support the water delivery. That infrastructure has to be paid for year round even when the water isn’t used. This means that irrigation water can be several times more expensive per gallon than the indoor use for homes and businesses which is consistent year round. Education and water stages as well as this new investment in cellular meters are another step in helping us optimize usage and moderate cost escalation for everyone. For more information on water stages and best practices please look to your water bill inserts and to Upper Trinity Water District’s website, one of our wholesale water providers which serves the northern residential areas of Northlake.
The council has called for a ballot initiative on the proposed StarCenter ice skating rink project in participation with the Dallas Stars who will be the primary lessee funding the project. The project is designed to offer a new more local venue for hockey teams like Northwest ISD and UNT and competition events as well as conventions and other sports like martial arts. The project is still in design and negotiation on the exact location but so far it remains a two ice rink and eight basketball court facility with configuration options for pickleball and volleyball courts as well as a mixed-use retail, residential hotel and entertainment zone. A proposed outdoor sports complex across the street by the City of Roanoke is being developed as well. Several new hotels are about to be built or are still in planning in the area. The combination of sports, hotels and restaurants in one area is anticipated to make the combined project more successful for both cities. Due to changes in the legislative rules for sports complexes, and after being advised on options for financing, including secured and unsecured loans, the council identified an option which is expected to reduce the long term cost of the project by $22M. To achieve those savings the public must vote on the financing option in addition to the funding sources voted on last spring. Northlake voters will be able to vote on this project in November on the general election ballot.