Sunday, June 28, 2015

This is How It's Done

Shoemaker and Hardt
In 2010 our little town of Wylie had barely made it to the local news weather maps, but the growth was all wrong.  The little town that blossomed from 8K people when I first moved here consisted of nothing but a sea of vanilla rooftops and homes that were nothing spectacular.  It was cheap housing that brought a wave of blue collar workers with not much in the way of spending money.

Our Wylie Economic Development Corporation wooed in the big box Walmart store, then came a sea of drugstores.  Finally Target came and with it a bunch of cheap clothing stores with equally cheap quality.  Though I have complained about the discount feel, thankfully our WEDC did what they do best and brought in industrial businesses as they grow our unofficial business park on Hensley and they brought in a hospital. More business has arrived giving us a lot more choices, plus a lot more retail sales revenue, which increases every quarter.  And the nicer homes came in thanks to people on council like Diane Culver who suggested to council that it was perfectly acceptable to tell developers what percentage of larger, more expensive homes versus smaller less expensive homes they could build when they came to council to approve their plats.  Soon more expensive homes were snapped up and additional expensive homes are coming.  And as I said all along, these types of changes, if supported by our council, would go a long way in improving our home values and increasing our retail sales revenue as people who could afford to shop and dine would be doing so in Wylie.

During a very low point in our growth, I blogged about our school district and how we must not promote section 8 housing, and the high density, low-income housing which I fought bitterly against which would burden our school districts and lower their test scores, and I explained why the promotion of it would damage our property values and further bring nothing but dollar stores and citizens with no money. I seriously considered leaving, with sky-high taxes, low property values, and little to show for any of it.

Years ago the city council had relatively voted to ignore the downtown area  in favor of growth on 544.  I blogged that this was a bad plan, sharing how the rustic, old western town feel is what people fall in love with when they drive through Wylie.  When the City abandoned the downtown, the downtown merchants got together and formed the Wylie Downtown Merchants Association. These deeply dedicated people showed up at the council meetings every week, asking for help.  The City abandoned the summer concert series in 2009 when they hit a budget crunch as home values plummeted.  The merchants kept the one concert that had the most activity and our annual July Jubilee was continued.  They garnered the cities help and worked to make Boo and Ballard and the Wylie Arts Festival a major hit.  Ultimately they morphed our July Jubilee where a couple hundred sat in lawn chairs into the highly successful Bluegrass on Ballard where 10K festival-goers were expected last night.

Bluegrass on Ballard
 I wrote about promoting our lakes, but how could you when our boat sat, stuck in the mud in our slip on Lavon Lake, or Lake Lavon as the locals call it.  We have had no water in the lake for years, and suddenly, one freak May and June we fill the lake and then some with the most bizarre flooding many of us have ever witnessed in Texas.  Perhaps that can be next on our list of improvements in the area as it would be wonderful to further take advantage of the Trinity Trail that has been blazed by horses around a large portion of the lake, building something similar to Rockwall where there are condos and restaurants overlooking the lake.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to see well supported marinas and lake activities which make Lake Lavon a go-to destination like Lakes Lewisville or Texoma?

In the surrounding area, Murphy has been a wonderful accompaniment to Wylie, enhancing the shopping and dining experience along 544.  We have the awesome Collin County Farmer's Market we shop at every Saturday morning to support our local farmers.  We buy our meat from Truth Hill Farms, a local farmer in Farmersville where we can order our grass-fed beef, pork, free-range poultry, dairy, and eggs from them and pick it up at the Farmer's Market. We also have a wonderful farmers co-op program with Bountiful Baskets where we get our weekly produce fresh from the farm in Sachse.

Though we don't have anything like Macy's or Sephora here, I can get a little more upscale type items at Hobby Lobby and Home Goods and frankly, Macy's is just about 12 minutes down the road at Firewheel Mall.

Over the years, our council listened and our home values steadily increased since 2012, jumping dramatically these last two years as Wylie finally is becoming all that it could be. I blogged about our ridiculously high tax rate, which has slowly come down the last couple of years and this year, I am hoping and praying they do the right thing and lower it a full cent.  It is time.  Especially as our property values dramatically increase, the tax revenue cash cow has fattened despite the pittance of tax rate cuts. And this year, well a once cent drop is well deserved, and frankly well earned by taxpayers.

I blogged about property values and the mistakes made many times over the years.  Though I could never take responsibility for how Wylie has been transformed recently, perhaps I educated a few people through the years about ways to improve our property values and perhaps I inspired them to see all that Wylie could be.  This is how it's done.  Getting citizens who care about their community to come together and show council the error of their ways and push to replace those who's ideologies are harming home values.  Wylie has finally moved from a small jerk-town to a truly desirable place to live with activities for the family, a couple places to eat though we are still lacking in that department, and a great school district that ranks well in the DFW area.  As an added benefit, homes are somewhat scarce in the DFW area and because of this, our home value has jumped dramatically the last couple months.

I know I was entirely too hard on our mayor through the years.  After all, he was only 1 of 7 votes on council and he had the difficult task of maintaining Wylie in a positive light despite poor decisions made at times. Yet through it all, he has been a stellar supporter of Wylie and, though not perfect, has done us proud.  As our Mayor Eric Hogue prompts everyone who comes to a council meeting and has their picture taken, to say, "I love Wylie". And I finally do.