January Message from Mayor Tom Hayden
A 2018 New Year’s Resolution for Flower Mound – Let’s Make Parks a Focus
One of the things that attracted many of us to Flower Mound was the openness, the parks, and our Town being a respite from a busy day. I know many of you will say, well Tom, under your watch things changed a quite a bit and perhaps that is correct (several thousand jobs, lots of restaurants). However, several years ago, and still to a certain extent today, the Town’s commercial tax base is misaligned with our residential tax base. There is a need to continue to diversify our tax rolls with additional commercial opportunities.
However, our Town also needs balance and part of that balance is a park system that gives our residents numerous recreational opportunities. I’ve heard some say the primary users of our parks are families with children. Certainly, that is a large portion but another heavy user will be those with small yards or someone living in an apartment that is looking for a tennis court, a trail to ride their bike, or a place to walk their dog. To be honest, most everyone, young and old, big yard or no yard is looking for recreational opportunities. A quality park system is one of the major building blocks that completes a community.
What has brought this into focus, the need we have to make parks a priority, was the recent search to build a tennis center. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? There is vacant land everywhere. Turns out it has been a real challenge. A tennis center might require approximately 15 acres and it has honestly been a struggle to identify a site. I’m aware of at least a dozen potential locations the Town has investigated, and with all these properties there has been a hurdle from the cost of the land, to access, or it just not being available (regarding a tennis center, while early, I think we have identified a very good possibility). This search has opened my eyes that the ability to add additional park land is quickly becoming a significant challenge.
In Flower Mound’s Parks Master Plan, it lists just less than 1,000 acres of park land throughout the Town, including 250 acres at Twin Coves Park that was recently opened. The Parks Master Plan also calls for us to add just less than 200 additional acres for parks by 2021 to keep pace. But if we were to project that forward a decade or two, as the Town gets closer to build out, the number would likely be somewhere between 500 to 1,000 additional acres of land. If one was to attach a price of $100,000 per acre, which is under the current market, that cost would equate to $50 to $100 million and that is just for land acquisition. Add onto that the cost of developing the parks, plus maintenance, and it becomes a significant number.
So, what is the call to action? It is acquiring land. Much like when Theodore Roosevelt established the National Park System and land was still available in the west; a similar model should be followed in Flower Mound. While we still can, inventorying park land should be a priority. Some land can be purchased with park dedication fees, some may come from donations. However, we need to put an emphasis on acquiring available land for our park system.
So why would anyone want to serve on Council?
In 2013, I remember Peter Stewart and Jimmy Archie (owners of the Lakeside DFW development) invited me to travel with them to Austin to meet with the owners of a startup theater company called the Moviehouse & Eatery. My job was to convince them that the 30 screens at Grapevine Mills and the theater located in the Shops of Highland Village didn’t really matter, and there was no doubt Flower Mound could support a Moviehouse in Lakeside with big comfy chairs. A day or two later a deal was struck and it was announced the Moviehouse & Eatery was coming to Flower Mound.
Tonight, my son Daniel and I went to see Star Wars at Moviehouse & Eatery. As food was being served, people were playing with their chairs, and others were chatting in the lobby and there was a moment, a brief moment, when I thought, you know, I actually had a little bit to do with the things going on around us.
If you serve in an elected capacity, from a state rep to a municipal council, people will ask, why would you want to go through the scrutiny, the heartburn, and late hours? What do you get out of it? The answer is always the same; for that moment you can say to yourself, I was a part of something good. In 2012, I was very lucky to serve on a Council with Steve Dixon, Bryan Webb, Kendra Stephenson, Jean Levenick and Mark Wise. We were all rowing in sync, supporting each other and accomplishing things together. Everyone had an equal role and together we did things. It was a rewarding time for everyone. Our Town Elections are coming up and if you have a desire to participate, this is the time, and I would encourage you to visit the Town Secretary’s Office.