Election 2018

Have you ever wanted to do something visionary?

Residents of Denton have an opportunity to be visionary in this year’s bond election. The City Council established a goal in 2018 to hold a bond election that prepared the city for the future. A citizens committee was formed in late May and met for over two months and thoroughly discussed and evaluated every project presented by the city staff. Suffice it to say, what the committee recommended to the council was significantly different than what it was asked to consider. Three major themes were woven into the recommendations: reduce frustrations, improve public safety and enhance the quality of life.

Proposition A focuses on the first two themes. To reduce frustration, the committee believed rather than doing road projects all over town, the city should focus on three areas of town: the neighborhoods around Ginnings Elementary, Denton High School and southeast Denton. The thought was to do the entire road and water, sewer and stormwater work in those neighborhoods at once, and then be done. The utility work would be funded by other sources but done all at once. The underlying theme of the other projects in Proposition A is public safety, whether it is widening Bonnie Brae in preparation for the new Denton High School; straightening Hickory Creek Road — over 30 fatalities have occurred along this road over the years; expanding Ryan Road and adding a left turn lane; street lighting along University Drive from Interstate 35 to Mayhill Road; and sidewalks around all the elementary and middle schools within the city.

Proposition B is focused on public safety through the much-needed renovation of the police headquarters, construction of a new police substation on the west side and a new firing range. The police headquarters building is frankly dysfunctional. This was not just the opinion of the committee after an extensive tour but backed up a recent city auditor report.

Furthermore, because of the growth, officers on the west side of town often have a 20-30 minute drive to the police headquarters. The new substation will significantly improve police officer availability and reduce travel time.

The firing range is very much a public safety concern. The current firing range has been substantially restricted in its operations because bullet rounds are landing in the Target Distribution Center parking lot. Moreover, officer weapons skills are perishable. Many Denton officers are going to private ranges to stay current but are very limited in what they can practice. The proposed range will provide an indoor range to eliminate safety concerns while providing the type of facilities officers need to practice under realistic scenarios.

Proposition C, park land acquisition, and Proposition D, public art, will enable the community to make long-term investments that will enhance the community. The Parks and Recreation Department is in the middle of a master planning effort that will increase the number of residences within a 10-minute walk of a park. Currently, 44% of homes meet that standard, whereas the city of Lewisville has 55% of its residences within a 10-minute walk. Concurrently, the public art proposition will give the city’s Art Committee more latitude to install quality art in our parks and other public lands within the city where they can be more easily enjoyed.

The first question usually asked is how much is this debt going to increase my tax bill. The committee worked very hard to prevent an additional tax burden, and did so by assuming assessed property values would grow at 5% annually. Actual assessed values have increased an average of 10.4% since 2014. As long as assessed values continue to grow at that rate, with taxes capped for all owners 65 and over, no increase in taxes will be required. Denton needs your vote for each proposition to turn these ideas, these dreams into reality — and build a better Denton together.

PAT SMITH is the Special Citizens Bond Advisory Committee chair, and SUSAN PARKER is the committee vice chair.

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