Mayor of Hudson Oaks Pat Deen and his neighbor to the east in Willow Park, Mayor Richard Neverdousky, discussed growth and development in their respective communities during a “State of the City” address at the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The event on Wednesday saw a good crowd interested in the development along I-20.
“It’s truly amazing what we’ve accomplished in Hudson Oaks, there’s no question about that,” Deen said. “When I think about the things we’ve done here, I think about the state of business in Hudson Oaks. It’s not about bringing a Splash Kingdom or an HEB here. It’s not about a new urbanized apartment complex, a hotel, or even a gig a-bite city being built. The key to this is not about the ‘what’ but about the ‘how.’”
He explained what made him most proud during his time as mayor, is as a city of 2000 in a mostly rural county, he has been able to accomplish so much on the surface, while maintaining a rock solid foundation for sustainability in the future.
Deen said he did that by following three core principles from the time Hudson Oaks was founded in 1978.
Hudson Oaks wanted to control its own destiny, said Deen, and to do that they had to “tax activity and not wealth.”
“Core principle one was to tax the activity and not the investment of what was in the city,” Deen said. “That was key because to this day we do not have an ad valorem tax. We have to be very careful how we take on new development. It has to pay for itself.”
He said that sometimes the city doesn’t always “win” and that sometimes they have to turn away from development.
“If it can’t sustain itself then we don’t want it,” he added.
Core principle two, Deen said, was the absence of “egos.”
“This is probably the most important one because you have to set aside who you are individually - weather you are mayor or a council member - and take the best idea,” Deen said. “It may be a resident’s suggestion so you must keep an open mind.”
Core principle three was “no subsidies.”
“We don’t have revenues from our police department paying for our water department,” Deen said. “That sort of thing happens all over the county. Each department operates individually and pay for themselves.”
Deen announced his candidacy for the county judge position earlier in the year.
“With strong leadership in bringing new jobs and wage growth to the city has positioned me well to work with neighboring cities on key economic development programs,” he said. “My leadership style empowers employees to do their job as a team and allows business decisions to be made not political decisions.”
Deen then introduced several members of his administrative team, crediting them for much of the success the city has experienced.
“There’s no way we could have attracted these type of people had we not changed the culture of Hudson Oaks,” Deen added. “The key is to empower your staff and give them the tools too succeed.”
Deen fielded some questions, most pressing appeared to be when the HEB grocery would be completed. The proposed completion for the project he said was in the second quarter of 2018.
Development in Willow Park is also exciting, said Neverdousky.
“We’re striving to be a full service community, a place where residents can live and do all of their shopping,” he said. “We haven’t fully accomplished that but we’re working on it.”
Neverdousky told of the construction of a new public safety building thanks to the passage of a recent $4.6 million bond. He also told of improvements being made to the city’s infrastructure regarding water lines and sewer.
He also spoke of newly created business and business yet to come particularly in the Crown Point area.
In addition to more rooftops Neverdousky told those attending that the old Trinity Meadows Racetrack grandstands would be seeing a facelift in the near future.
“Parker County sorely needs an event center,” he said. “There’s just not anything here large enough to host a big event.”