Life Well Run
Jan 03, 2013 11:12PM, Published by tina, Categories: City+School
by John Terrell
That is the title of the video that’s put together by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), an organization whose prime purpose is to in part “create sustainable communities that improve lives…” It’s an admirable goal, one that the City works toward every day… but without the basics, such as water, solid waste collection, sidewalks to walk on and streets to drive on, that goal would be hard to achieve.
Back in 1956, I doubt the people who voted to incorporate Southlake could envision what Southlake would be like in 2012. Water lines have been built, sidewalks connect people to neighborhoods and schools, and Southlake’s streets have been widened or in many cases built from scratch. Year by year, Southlake has slowly grown into a City that has been held up as a model for others when it comes to building successful downtown developments such as Town Square or creating a hometown environment that feels like a retreat from our hectic lifestyles.
But what are the ingredients that make up Southlake’s success? Simple, an unrelenting attention to detail and making sure the basics like water, roads, solid waste collection, police, fire and a host of other City services are in place so that the people, who come to work, play or stay, become repeat customers. Then you add great community events, (like next month’s Stars and Stripes celebration and this past April’s Art In The Square), quality housing, neighborhoods that welcome people in, and city infrastructure that support the people who live and work there and you’ve got a City like Southlake.
I feel privileged that I am a member of the Southlake team of City Councils that have helped build this City. For years, residents have put their trust in the members of the Council to make sure the basics were in place and being attended to so that when the time was right we could dream big and build Southlake Town Square, attract premiere medical facilities, draw local, national and international businesses, and do it within 22 square miles. Did you know that Southlake has more than 1,100 acres of park land (both natural and maintained areas) found all over the City? That’s in part a result of the Southlake Parks and Development Corporation half-cent sales tax. Approved by voters in 1993, that half penny has helped create many of the parks that we enjoy today. For example, Bicentennial Park is home to what I think is the best little league baseball park around. But without investments into the roads to get people to the park, the water infrastructure to help water the fields or the pathways that allow people to enjoy a nice walk, Bicentennial Park might as well be an island.
The same is true for our community events that have become a Southlake hallmark, while you and I are busy enjoying Santa lighting up Town Square or the wiener dog races at Oktoberfest, there are investments in place that ensure the event is fun and even more importantly, safe. Southlake’s Department of Public Safety is the largest department within the City with regards to staff. The DPS force of 106 – 54 firefighters and 32 police officers - are dedicated to ensuring our safety and security at events like this and for the other 363 days of the year. Again, it’s something not often given much thought, but its there as a core City service that Southlake provides.
All over Southlake you can find wonderful homes that have been the cornerstone of people’s lives, some for just a few years, and others for decades. If you look at all of our different neighborhoods you will find they have many differences from appearance to the time that they were built. But each one shares something important in common: the house is located in a City that has made every effort to ensure the neighborhood’s character and integrity is never compromised.
Basic City services aren’t something that we build or provide and then check off the list as done. They require continuous review and investment by elected officials and staff to make them seem effortless. They require reaching out and creating partnerships so that our families don’t have to concern themselves with roads, the sidewalks, the water or the street lights. They require the efforts of the thousands of City residents and workers who help make Southlake a better place. It truly is a team effort and I am proud to be part of the team that helps create and maintain this great City.
I hope that you and your family have a great summer – thanks for your time.
See you in Southlake.