The Whitehouse City Council held a joint meeting with members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission as well as representatives of Keep Whitehouse Beautiful on Thursday, Jan. 11.
The stated purpose of the meeting was “to discuss and make recommendations for vision and direction of the City of Whitehouse.” The current Vision 2020 plan is nearing an end and the Jan. 11 meeting opened initial discussions on the next phase of future city development planning.
Mayor Charles Parker distinguishing between vision and planning in his opening remarks saying, “the plan is how you implement your vision, but you’ve got to have a vision first.”
“One big portion of any viable vision plan that you put together has a lot to do with annexation and growing your city and how you want to grow your city,” Parker also noted.
“We want a growing, accomplished community,” Parker said. “That’s my vision of where I want us to go. I want to see us grow and prosper. By growth, I mean I want to see us grow in territory; I want to see us grow internally; I want to see better, newer buildings built; I want to see all the good things that can happen within our city. I think it is incumbent upon all of us to do one key thing. We need to do everything in our power to protect the property values of those who live inside the city of Whitehouse.”
No action was taken during the joint meeting, but a consensus formed concerning certain key points.
In developing a plan for the city, communication appeared to be priority. The council and commissions agreed that better communication between them was a necessity and it was suggested that City Manager Aaron Smith might act as liaison between the groups.
Communication between the city and its residents was also discussed. Smith suggested the city look into building a better website. Several conveyed the idea that surveys could be implemented as had been done to gain input regarding the sports complex.
Another topic which the assembly focused on was that of creating green spaces and being able to connect those spaces to each other and to current parks.
“UP [Union Pacific] calls that an active track,” stated Smith regarding the rail line in Whitehouse. “It is called the Tyler Industrial lead. At one time, there was some industry at the end of the line in Tyler. Everything has changed since then. Hopefully, over time, we can convince UP that track no longer should be part of their long term vision. If we can do that, maybe we can purchase or lease it.”
Parker also reported that he and Dr. Chris Moran, superintendent of WISD, had talked about the possibility of the city and school district partnering to find the best use of the playground area behind Brown Elementary once it becomes the administrative offices of the district.
A member of the Parks and Recreation committee noted that the REC was a “good investment.” Discussion then ensued concerning the possible uses and expansion of the REC.
The question was asked if the city managed a continuous five-percent growth over the next five years, could the infrastructure handle the increase.
“Sewer and water could more than handle it,” said Smith. “We could double our population and we could handle water and sewer, no problem. We’ve got room for growth.”
Other ideas discussed were the need to increase community involvement, promote the City of Whitehouse, do all possible to attract businesses and become pro-active rather than reactionary.
“We have been reactionary since this city was founded,” Parker commented. “The Vision 2020 gave us a little bit of guidance, but we didn’t really treat it like the document we should have. As a result, we’re still being reactionary. I think a good city that’s actually going to plan to move forward has got to stop that and the only way you prevent being reactionary is to have a plan. That’s the reason I’m advocating for moving forward.”
By general consent it was decided to hold quarterly meetings to further discuss the next vision and plan for Whitehouse. The next joint meeting has not yet been scheduled.
To contact members of the city council, Parks and Recreation, or Planning and Zoning, visit the city’s website http://www.whitehousetx.org/, or call 903-839-4914.