A new formula for success is in the test tube. We've been working on it for a while. We added a new super highway right thru the middle of town. Even tho it was a turnpike, for the first time Rowlett was on a major highway, soon to provide more to the area over the years. At nearly the same time, the DART rail system came to town. It went into the mix. Rowlett leadership started planning a new future with these ingredients. Some plans were okay......some were not. Some are still languishing.
Then, more recently and somewhat unexpected, the long wished for access to the Interstate system and Lake Ray Hubbard's deep water became a reality. Trent Donahue purchased Robertson Park and the land was annexed into Rowlett. It's my opinion that the Robertson Park land was the most valuable land between downtown Dallas and Memphis. Now, that really got the attention of Rowlett movers and shakers. The timing was right for a new Rowlett. A new image was there for the taking, and that new image would substantially enhance the lifestyle on existing and future Rowlett citizens, provided someone didn't screw it up. With proper nurturing and care, an exclusive community could be built that would overshadow surrounding villages. We still need to learn from our mistakes.
However, Rowlett could become the place to live.
In relatively short order, Rowlett had acquired a toll road that went straight to 20,000 jobs being created in Plano. It added a new DART station that could deliver passengers to places all over the metroplex, including airports, major shopping, and downtown jobs. Rowlett has acquired access to the Interstate system on I-30, and 247 acres of prime commercial land located right on the waterfront. All the ingredients were there, ready for development of Rowlett into a first class town that reeked of opportunities. It was just going to take a little time to development.
Then, something happened. On December 26, a tornado struck Rowlett. The toll was 400 houses completely destroyed and another 700 homes damaged. It was truly catastrophic. I saw the funnel. More imposing was the sound. We took cover and listened to our windows breaking. We thought the house was next. It stayed. The funnel missed us by a hundred yards.
What happened next was enlightening. The first respondents sirens could be heard as the sounds of the tornado were still present. Rowlett was repairing itself before the tornado even left town. Soon thereafter, people were appearing in the streets to survey the damage and start looking for shelter for the night. The city swung into action with shelters. Other cities sent help. We even helped neighbors carry clothes to other neighbor's houses trying to save what we could from the rain. There were hundreds of equal, or more, stories in Rowlett that night.
What has unfolded because of that night was a cohesion of Rowlett residents. I am truly impressed with the people of Rowlett, and the city's leadership. Everyone is trying to help someone else.
That is what we have all witnessed over the past month and a half.
As tragic as the tornado was, I do believe it can serve as the catalyst in the test tube. I think the tornado can speed up the re-development of Rowlett and present a platform under which we can completely "re-brand" the city. The tornado brought attention to our city. We can use that notoriety to keeps others apprised of our efforts, not only tornado repair, but enhancement of shopping, commercial development, water parks, and just a great place to live.
The attitude and the ingredients are present, including the catalyst. Rowlett can become the best little small town in Texas. It can have water activities, new and upscale commercial and residential development. Entertainment, shopping, and restaurants should certainly show up.
It's there for the taking, folks. .