Our top wishes for Lewisville in 2017

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By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

In our last newspaper of 2016, we presented our readers with the top stories from the year. This week, in honor of the new year, we share our best wishes for Lewisville and its residents in the coming year.

Community building

Crowds enjoyed a concert early in the season at Sounds of Lewisville. (File photo - Steve Southwell - 2016)
Crowds enjoyed a concert early in the season at Sounds of Lewisville. (File photo – Steve Southwell – 2016)

We think Lewisville is a great place to live that is replete with many unique and caring citizens. But we live in an age where it is not as common for neighbors to know one another.

NextDoor and Facebook entities like the City of Lewisville group can be a resourceful ways for us to become familiar with one another. The problem with online interaction is that we tend to filter through and limit ourselves to people who think just like us.

The best way to build community is to get out of our comfort zones and interact with one another more. Our city currently provides many opportunities for this and has been working on more.

The city’s numerous festivals and free public concerts are an easy way to get out and meet people. We have a vibrant arts scene with many great performances in our city. There is nearly always something going on at the MCL Grand Theater. There are symphony concerts, ballet performances, plays and musical acts from nearly every genre at the MCL Grand and at other venues in the city.
Some of the best folks you will meet are those who volunteer for their community. Maybe that’s volunteering for a local nonprofit, charity or the police or fire departments. Maybe that’s serving on a city board or commission. Perhaps serving at your church or a religious charity would work better for you. You could become involved with the schools and volunteer there. We all could use the perspective of working at something larger than ourselves.

Being nicer to one another

Our Seva members rehabbed the exteriors of homes in the Tanglewood neighborhood (Photo courtesy of Our Seva)
Our Seva members rehabbed the exteriors of homes in the Tanglewood neighborhood (Photo courtesy of Our Seva)

We’re not picking on Lewisville here. Being nice is something that everyone and every community needs to deal with. We live in a society that is increasingly fractured and divided along political and socio-economic lines as well as by race and ethnicity. Social media and pandering news sources not only make it easier to avoid hearing other points of view, but they also often result in “othering” of people and views of a different perspective. Add to that the ease of sitting behind a keyboard and lashing out with relative impunity, and people sometimes feel okay with saying things to strangers that are better off never said.

It’s easy to judge and shame people online. It’s harder, but ultimately better, to try to see the best in people. We all have our moments of stupidity – hopefully balanced by our better days.

It’s the same thing on the road. Never–ending construction and congestion get on our nerves to begin with, so it’s easy to unload on the other drivers that we think have somehow slighted us. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to be patient and show common courtesy even if maybe sometimes it doesn’t seem that common. Maybe if more of us worked at driving friendly and being kind to one another, people would feel better about our city and there could be less road rage.

Being nice goes hand-in-hand with community building. It’s easier to build community with people who are nice to one another. It’s also easier to be nice to one another when you know your community and its people. It’s hard to “other” people when you realize that they also want the best schools for their kids, good roads to drive on and a safe community to live in. It’s harder to disparage someone when you’ve boogied with them at a Sounds of Lewisville Concert or attended Citizens Police Academy with them. It’s harder to be mad at someone’s driving mistake if you think of the goodness in their heart when they volunteer their time helping the homeless at the local Salvation Army. It’s harder to judge and shame others when we call to mind our own shortcomings.

It really goes further than just being nice. Random acts of kindness can make someone’s day. Maybe we can resolve in the coming year to try to be kind to a stranger once a day. Whether it’s letting someone with just a couple items jump in front of us in the grocery checkout line, or giving someone a compliment, or holding a door open, that all helps. We can pick up litter and donate to local charities and help out the less fortunate. We can try to be the angel that someone else really needs.

Completion of public projects and sustainable pace

Looking northeast at the corner of Charles and Main, showing a revamped facade for the current building. (Rendering by Beck Group)
Looking northeast at the corner of Charles and Main, showing a revamped facade for the current building. (Rendering by Beck Group)

The citizens of Lewisville have high aspirations for our city. The Vision 2025 plan lays out a series of big moves. With a recently passed bond package for the city, citizens spoke loud and clear about Lewisville’s need to catch up on recreational facilities and vital infrastructure and public safety needs.

Lewisville ISD is nearing the end of its 2006 voter-approved bond program, and the district is in need of new schools as well as renovations or rebuilds for older campuses. Interstate 35E construction finds new ways to confound drivers on just about a daily basis.

Growth is a constant for Lewisville and the entire area. The east side of our city is growing quickly, and Castle Hills’ annexation is just a few years away. These are exciting times to live in Lewisville. These are challenging times to live in Lewisville.

Growth, projects and change all present challenges. Cities and school districts have to operate and provide vital services all while new facilities are being built and functions are being added. We consider ourselves fortunate that our city and school districts are well-managed and governed. Still, there is risk in biting off more than we can chew.

Our hope is that both of these institutions continue making forward progress to do right by our citizens and students. We want to have the new facilities and amenities and opportunities. But we want to make sure that the pace of change is sustainable. When change moves too quickly, the risk is that basic operations can suffer, or the projects can suffer. Missteps can cause voter regret and pendulum swings that jeopardize progress.

We hope that our elected leaders on the school board and city council will look at new projects critically but with an open mind, and have the courage to approve projects that are needed and the wisdom to reject the ones that are not. But we also hope they will have the patience to wait until the timing is right on some of the ones that are needed.

Every Lewisville Lake swimmer, boater wears a life jacket

LTJ Business Manager Jennifer Southwell demonstrates proper boating safety by always wearing a life jacket. (Photo by Steve Southwell
LTJ Business Manager Jennifer Southwell demonstrates proper boating safety by always wearing a life jacket. (Photo by Steve Southwell

Yes, this is wishful thinking. And yes, I’m talking directly to you. It is terribly possible your mediocre swimming skills are not enough to keep you afloat. Multiple adults drown every year in Lewisville Lake for any number of reasons: windy days move unanchored boats away from swimmers, alcohol consumption numbs one’s sensibilities, poor swimming skills lead to exhaustion.

We’ve heard it time and time again from the officials who have to talk about these things with reporters, those on the brink of drowning don’t realize their situation and sink before they can call for help.

“We’ve never pulled anybody off the bottom of the lake with a life jacket on,” Fire Chief Tim Tittle told us in 2016. It’s a common thing the firefighters reiterate, he said.

Each summer day carries the weight of an impending drowning that we have to report. We don’t like it. Firefighter paramedics and divers don’t enjoy pulling somebody’s loved one out either. Your family and friends certainly wouldn’t enjoy reading in the paper about you not wearing a life jacket. Please, borrow or buy a life jacket. And wear it. Please.

More initiatives for entertainment, culture and creativity

Dancers enjoyed the music at Lewisville's Western Days, 2016. Photo by Leopold Knopp
Dancers enjoyed the music at Lewisville’s Western Days, 2016. Photo by Leopold Knopp

We love that we have our very own drive-in movie theater. We get concerts in Wayne Ferguson Plaza and art exhibits at MCL Grand Theater. We even get to host the Best Little Brewfest in Texas as well as Western Days.

It would be awesome to see community members throw together their own culturally oriented shindig. A food festival or a street art exhibit would be a great way to bring the community together as well as bring in outside North Texans. It would utilize our fairly new plaza and possibly introduce passersby to new foods or art. As we understand it, the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce will be doing just that this coming April when they put on Latino Explosion, a celebration of HIspanic culture, music and food.

In 2016, there were talks of a rear facade program, which would enliven the rear walls of Old Town stores. While some changes would be structural, there’s also an opportunity for murals. We would prefer local artists were offered the opportunity to display their work and be compensated for their services. Or if one brave store owner saw fit, it would be neat to have a community art piece that allows people to participate in its making.

Honestly we just want more reasons to visit Old Town. While the city is working on getting more eateries in the quaint downtown strip, there isn’t much there that holds entertainment value for all ages. While the bakery, gown shop and jewelry store do offer something unique to our town, their target audience isn’t necessarily general. Something that could appeal to a wider audience may include a comic and game shop, a music store or a book store — maybe even a combination of the three.

Another thing we’re looking forward to and hope it gets off the ground in 2017 is the library’s makerspace. A makerspace provides those interested with a place to learn new skills, ranging from Photoshop to woodworking. The library will be taking community input as to what sort of programs it should offer at its open house on Feb. 16.

I-35 makes remarkable progress

Construction crews are preparing to add steel beams weighing 362 tons to this bridge at the intersection of I-35E and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.
Construction crews are preparing to add steel beams weighing 362 tons to this bridge at the intersection of I-35E and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.

As great as Lewisville is, we do enjoy visiting our neighboring North Texas cities sometimes. Some of us may enjoy it less and are just commuting to work in Dallas or Denton. Regardless nobody is enjoying the drive during peak I-35 hours. What should be a 20 minute drive turns into an hour drive. On random evenings past rush hour, there’s somehow stand-still traffic. I believe we can all agree, I-35 is the pits.

With the bridge opening in 2016, many were hopeful, excited even. But it was only the southbound side that was completed. And it was only a slight chunk of what North Texans have to slog through daily. So nothing has really changed since its opening other than being elevated over the lake.

Substantial completion of the project is forecast for the middle of this year. What we hope for Lewisville Texans is that we hit that mark, and that drivers see significant improvement in commute times. And by significant, we mean shaving maybe 15 minutes off rush hour.

Who let the dogs out?

January 4, this photo of an abandoned dog in a trash can was posted on the City of Lewisville Facebook group.
January 4, this photo of an abandoned dog that someone found in a trash can was posted on the City of Lewisville Facebook group. (Photo posted by Tina Abbe Pearson)

There already seem to be a lot of loose dogs scrambling across streets and through parks, whether that’s from New Year’s fireworks or just plain negligence.

We understand shoddy fences and young hooligans can be to blame. But how about we make this the year we sign up for the city’s property enhancement program? Maybe we could invest in fence locks or dog tags.

Microchips only cost $15 at Lewisville Animal Services and don’t require an appointment. Or perhaps, instead of letting the dog loose in the yard, consider taking it on walks — something that would benefit all involved.

Then there are the abandoned dogs who aren’t cute puppies anymore or have too much energy for the owner or who chew on shoes or who bark when somebody approaches the front door. A Lewisville resident found a dog in a trash can the first week of January. If you don’t have the time or patience for a dog, don’t take it out on the pup. Dogs are so loyal and once they’ve latched onto you— once you become their human— they won’t understand why they’re sitting in a cage with a bunch of other howling canines. They certainly won’t understand why they are in a garbage bin with no way out.

If you really want a furry companion, please adopt. Buying from puppy mills and breeders inflates the amount of strays wandering around living off the land. Not all animals find homes and supporting the breeding industry creates more homeless animals.

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