Vaughn Delivers 2013 State of the City Address for Lewisville

Date 2013/2/27 5:30:00 | Topic: Local News, Notes and Events

Today again, as last year, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Leroy Vaughn delivered the State of the City address at a joint luncheon of the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce, Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce, and Highland Village Business Association. Mayor Ueckert was unable to attend due to a family member having surgery. Here is the full text of Vaughn's speech: (Photo from last year)

Thank you for allowing me to come before you once again to talk about Lewisville’s recent accomplishments and future goals.
Lewisville had a strong and successful year in 2012, and I am confident that even more great things are ahead of us in 2013 and beyond. But if you want to know where you’re going, it is important to understand where you’ve been.

Back in 2003, Mayor Gene Carey stood before this group to present the State of the City as it stood at that time. He praised the city’s highest ever bond rating of AA+. Today, we have a triple-A bond rating, one of only a handful of Texas cities able to say that.

This high financial rating is one of many signs that make clear the effective, conservative fiscal path taken by your City leaders. We have controlled spending, used debt responsibly when needed, and kept the property tax rate at the lowest level it’s been since 1987. In fact, during the past 19 years, Lewisville’s property tax rate has gone down 10 times and gone up only once.

Back in 2003, Mayor Carey thanked voters for approving the 4B sales tax in support of parks. Today, the centerpiece of that program – Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park – is a crown jewel not just in Lewisville but for all of Southern Denton County. The program also paid for converting two city pools into family water parks, and a major expansion of the Lewisville Public Library.

He also looked forward to the opening of a new City Hall later that year in the heart of Old Town. Today, City Hall is the visual focal point for Old Town, and the new Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater has been yet another big boost for the Old Town area.

Lewisville residents can be proud of those facilities, not just because they greatly enhance our quality of life, but because they have proven to be wise investments.

Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park opened in late 2009 and has drawn nearly 2 million visitors since then, filled more than 100,000 hotel room-nights, and generated millions of dollars in direct economic impact. MCL Grand opened in January 2011 and since then has been the site of more than 700 events drawing more than 100,000 visitors.

Facilities such as parks and arts centers can sometimes be easy targets for people who think cities should only spend money on what they consider basic services. But the great success of both these facilities shows that, with strong and effective planning, parks and the arts can be more than just a source of pride and joy for a community – they can become viable economic engines.

During 2012, two more significant investments were made in Lewisville’s future. In July, the new Animal Shelter and Adoption Center opened on Valley Ridge Boulevard. In just six months, traffic at the shelter has doubled. The new shelter is easy to find, pleasant to visit, and helps boost the adoption of stray and abandoned animals. By the way, this $4.5 million facility was built without issuing a penny of debt.

Also during 2012, Lewisville voters once again went to the polls and showed their willingness to support smart spending for the future by approving the creation of two new special districts, one focused on crime control and one on fire prevention. These districts, and the combined quarter-cent increase in sales tax to fund them, were approved by an overwhelming margin. As a result, the city has been able to hire additional police officers, firefighters and code enforcement officers – and Lewisville is safer and stronger.

Not all investment in Lewisville comes from the public sector. Most comes from the private sector, where investment and growth continue to be strong.

Last year, economic development projects in Lewisville resulted in more than 700 new jobs. New businesses include Kellogg’s, which is investing $5 million in a one-million-square-foot distribution center that will employ 300 people; Hagemeyer North America, an electrical and industrial parts supplier, that is investing $1.2 million on a 68,000-square-foot space with 30 workers; and Essilor of America, the world’s largest producer and distributor of optical lenses, which will employ 90 people at its new distribution center in Lewisville.

Last year also saw the approval of more than 1,000 new residential lots, including a mixture of single-family, town home and apartment dwellings. Values for the single-family and town home units range from $175,000 to $335,000 each. That means more residents bringing more commerce to our local businesses.

Exchanging information with our residents will always be a priority for the City. Toward that end, we launched a new website last summer. The new and improved site, still accessible at CityofLewisville.com, is easier to use, has more information, and is more interactive in nearly every area. Staff continues to add new content regularly in an effort to make the website the first, and possibly only, place you need to go for City information.

Also last year, the City Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting smoking in Lewisville restaurants. This measure was not without controversy, but was in response to strong public demand not only from residents but also from within the business community. The new ordinance has been in place for nearly five months, and has not slowed down our restaurant traffic in the slightest. In fact, citywide restaurant receipts were up 4.25 percent year-over-year during the first quarter operating under the new ordinance.

Yes, Lewisville did have a very successful 2012. Looking back, where we have been is a city with big dreams and ambitious plans. Many of those plans have become reality in the past decade, and our dreams are still as big as the wide Texas sky. Which brings me to our plans for 2013 and beyond.

In the next few weeks, we will begin working on the Lewisville 2025 plan. This very ambitious project will take a comprehensive look at city operations and the city as a whole, with the goal of charting the city’s course through the next decade.

Lewisville 2025 is intended to be a reflection of our community values and aspirations –answering the question of where we want Lewisville to be when we hit our 100th birthday in 2025. It will be a guide for the management of growth and change, and a reference point for future decision-making. Basically, it is going to be a multi-year “to-do” list for the city.

Developing the plan will take many months of research, study and discussion. Major issues that are sure to be a part of the plan include land use, housing, infrastructure, quality of life, financial stability, neighborhood vitality and service delivery.

To do this right, we need your help. Our residents and business community must be an integral part of creating the Lewisville 2025 plan. There will be several committees formed to study different aspects of the plan, and I hope many of you will apply to serve on one of those committees.

Even for those unable to serve an active role in developing the plan, there will be multiple ways to provide input and help shape this vision-creating process. A town hall meeting will be held May 16 at the MCL Grand, and everyone is invited to join us on that night. There will be other public events as well as an online survey, social media outlets and a dedicated website. I call on all Lewisville residents to share their ideas for their city’s future, to contribute diverse viewpoints and ideas, and to have a hand in creating a community their children and grandchildren will enjoy for many years to come.

City Council and staff already are working on many fronts to strengthen Lewisville’s position in the future, such as attracting and retaining a strong retail base. Sales tax accounts for about one-third of the city’s operating budget, roughly equal to the property tax collected, so maintaining a vibrant retail sector benefits everyone. That’s why it is a priority for your City Council, and one we’re already acting on.

Last year, the city hired a company called Catalyst to perform detailed market studies in three areas of the city and to help develop a plan for boosting the retail sector in those areas.

Based on a thorough analysis of current and anticipated market conditions, Catalyst has recommended an intense effort in two areas – the Old Town core, and Main Street west of the interstate. Both of those areas have good market demand, available property, and high levels of traffic and visibility.

After hearing a report from Catalyst at our annual planning retreat earlier this month, the Council approved moving on to the next step in the process – finalizing the results of the study, and actively recruiting retailers that fit the identified profiles for each area. A draft plan is being developed now, and implementation could start before the end of this year.

Old Town will continue to be a focus for the City, and later this year we will start construction on another great addition to the area, the Old Town Park Plaza. Located across the street from City Hall and the MCL Grand, the new park plaza will create a physical and visual connection between the two buildings and pull everything together into one family-friendly, pedestrian-friendly package.

The plaza will include a stage with a waterfall backdrop, a large open lawn in front of the stage, a boardwalk along an artificial stream through native Texas landscaping, and an interactive splash zone for the kids. When finished, the plaza will create another great reason to visit Old Town. If you haven’t been to Old Town Lewisville recently, you really don’t know what you’re missing.

Also later this year, work will begin on a major expansion and remodeling of our public safety training facility on Treatment Plant Road. This project was included in a 2002 bond package approved by voters. When finished, it will give our police officers and firefighters access to vital training opportunities.

That 2002 bond package was mostly about roads, and later this year the final piece of that bond package will be issued in order to fund a list of road construction projects, focusing largely on Old Town.

One road construction project the City is not in charge of, but that will have tremendous impact on our residents and businesses for a number of years, is the Interstate 35E project. We’ve been talking about this project for a long time, and the state plans to finally start working this July on a phased reconstruction of the highway.

The project scope runs from 635 in north Dallas to US Highway 380 in the north. It will include one new free traffic lane in each direction, plus two reversible toll lanes between 635 and Loop 288. That will include new main lanes and frontage lanes across Lewisville Lake, which we all know can be a major bottleneck during peak traffic times. This project will greatly enhance transit to, through and from Lewisville. It will be a painful process, as all major highway projects are, but the end result is something to look forward to.

They teach you in speech classes to end on a high note, so I will.

In reviewing Mayor Carey’s “State of the City” speech from 10 years ago, I am struck repeatedly by how much has been accomplished during the past decade. On that day, he listed a number of things the City wanted to accomplish, and every single one of them has become reality. That’s an impressive track record, don’t you think?

Compared to 10 years ago, Lewisville is a stronger city today. We are economically more stable and prosperous; we have more and better parks, library and arts; we have more police officers and firefighters on the street; and we have more businesses, both large and small, that have chosen to invest in Lewisville.

I’m looking forward to creation of the Lewisville 2025 plan, and am very excited where we will be as a city 10 years from now. I hope you share in my excitement; because at the end of the day, our success is your success, and we are moving together toward a brighter future.

Thank you.



Related Content:
- Lewisville's Century Plan: What it Means for You




This article comes from The Lewisville Texan Journal
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