Spotlight on Aledo

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Aledo by the numbers $89,225 average household income in 2010 $160,000 average cost of a home in 2013 58 percentage of residents ages 18 to 64 34.2 years median age of Aledo residents Sources: North Central Texas Council of Governments, 2010 Census, city website

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Parker County’s lively Aledo owes its existence to the railroad, which still bisects the center of town.

City leaders say it owes its present population spike and building boom to planning and patience.

Residents are displaying plenty of the latter virtue as they eye the future.

The city lies 15 miles west of Fort Worth along Farm Road 1187, a one-time country road that is in the process of becoming a four-lane thoroughfare from Interstate 20 southward through Aledo.

A one-way traffic circle and other road additions and improvements are being done simultaneously.

“We are so badly under construction,” said Lori Wedgeworth, Aledo’s events planner. “We’re trying to draw as many attractions as we can, to get through our construction crisis.”

That includes the Shop Local program to help home-grown businesses and an urban farmer’s market at Elm and Front streets beginning the first Saturday in September to promote local produce and artisans’ wares.

Two commercial buildings are also under construction.

“This time next year,” Wedgeworth said, “we won’t be small anymore.”

Aledo has 2,800 residents, up by more than 900 from its 2010 Census figures. In 20 years it could reach build-out at 13,000 residents.

“Aledo’s gone from processing 10 to 12 homes a year, and now we’re processing 18 to 20 a month,” Wedgeworth said.

The actual area of the city, 3 square miles, is dwarfed by its highly rated school district, which covers 120 square miles and has more than 4,600 students.

The area was first known as Medera when the Texas & Pacific Railroad came through in 1879 to connect Fort Worth and Weatherford. A coal and water refueling station built nearby was the first stop in Parker County for westbound trains, and it became known as Parker Station.

Mail mix-ups led to Medera being renamed Aledo in 1882, after a railroad executive’s hometown in Illinois. By the 1920s there were 400 residents and Aledo had become a retail center, with a steam-powered cotton gin, corn mill, bank and other businesses.

Aledo was incorporated in 1963, and residents have been celebrating the golden anniversary all summer with special events.

Kit Marshall has been Aledo’s mayor since 2006, and she describes its growth as “exponential.”

New subdivisions like The Parks at Aledo with 250 houses, and a newer one coming online at the next City Council meeting, are obvious signs of growth, but Marshall points to new infrastructure as the key to sustainable progress.

“Most cities our size have not had major projects simultaneously,” she said.

Along with traffic infrastructure, Aledo has doubled water service capacity with its new wastewater treatment plant that came online this year. The facility has won several design awards and has the capacity to expand to cover the city’s maximum population potential.

The city also has a new elevated water tower and a connection to the Fort Worth water supply.

Construction has also begun on the Aledo Trail highway project, which will upgrade roads through the historic Front Street downtown area.

Aledo’s homey, small-town identity is an asset that city leaders are determined to protect.

“We’ve just about completed a mural on the downtown side of one of our buildings, depicting our heritage,” Marshall said. “I feel that was real critical to that sense of community we have. I think it’s important.”

That’s where Aledo’s resident artist and historian Homer Norris comes in.

Norris is author-illustrator of the popular Parker County Sketchbook, published in 2009. He created the sketches of historic downtown Aledo, and AP art students from Aledo High School are doing the actual painting.

Marshall’s post as elected mayor is a nonpaid volunteer position. Her full-time job is in emergency management, as Parker County’s community liaison and grant writer.

“Without a plan you don’t know where you’re going,” she said. “When you have a city with small, finite resources, you’ve got to leverage that.”

Aledo’s strategic plan is on its website. A traffic study and a master parks and recreation study all provided timely information even before funding sources such as Parker County’s transportation bond came about.

“It all works together, and it all speaks to growth,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s parents moved with their two daughters to Aledo in 1968, and Marshall stayed after graduation from Aledo High School, as have a surprising number of her classmates. The same goes for Wedgeworth and her husband, who are still surrounded by people they grew up with.

“I’m passionate about this city I live in” Marshall said. “I was reading a book about falling in love with your city. You don’t think about falling in love with your city, but I have. I love the people I serve.”

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins

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