This is kinda where the rubber meets the road. If there are 58,000 residents of Rowlett, there are probably 58,000 different answers to those questions. Much will be pure opinion.........and that's okay. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion. What is most difficult is throwing all 58,000 citizens into a pot, and brewing a soup that everybody likes. How do we achieve a recipe of success?
I would like to share my Pollyanna vision of what I would like Rowlett to be. It could be quite different than your vision, but that's okay.
My vision of Rowlett would be to maximize our population at about 85,00 to 90,000 people. At that point, I would like to see Rowlett's efforts turn almost exclusively "lifestyle." We could stop thinking about vacant land and think mostly of well kept lawns, good shopping, lakeside entertainment, good restaurants, and enjoying our families. I would like a lifestyle so thoroughly enjoyable by our citizens, that others would like to move here.
I would like housing that accommodates young upwardly mobile people, good housing for our moms and pops in superb senior housing, and a cross section of excellent housing selections for all price ranges. I would like lake parks all around Lake Ray Hubbard. We have shallow water at our end of the lake, so our water craft would be primarily canoes, kayaks, bass boats, and paddle boats. There should be places that the boats could dock all around the lake and picnic or patronize lakeside vendors. There should be good jobs available nearby. Commercial development in Rowlett should provide some good employment, but the dynamics of Dallas and the 20,000 new job formations in Plano would augment local employment. Upscale housing should be available everywhere, particularly accessible to the tollway and proposed lakeside development. Commercial development would blossom in the new Bayside development along I-30 and the lake. The revenue that Bayside could contribute to Rowlett's coffers is staggering. The tax burden on citizens will soften after Bayside reaches full capacity. When Rowlett achieves a superior lifestyle, others will want to live here. Since Rowlett would have no more vacant land, people wishing to live here will have to out bid others who want to live here, and face a limited supply of homes. Therefore, the commercial development would relax citizen tax burdens while people wanting to live in Rowlett are bidding house values up. Rowlett would have developed into a "preferred" place to live.
That is my Pollyanna vision. It is very possible.
Our collective visions are all ingredients of the soup. It is our job, as it is with all good chefs, to create a soup that the majority of Rowlett's people like, preferably an overwhelming majority. If some version of my scenario envisioned above is desired by others, those desires must be known. In fact, whatever desires are wanted must be made known in order for elected officials to try to achieve those results. That becomes your job. You don't get out of this scot free.
There are many reasons why each of us selected Rowlett as a place to live. Some people were born here. There aren't many of them. Others, like me, came a long time ago when the atmosphere in Rowlett was definitely rural. And, others came more recently when the appeal may have been quite different. I selected Rowlett because I could get to my office in downtown Dallas in 25 minutes, Lake Ray Hubbard was 600 feet away from my house, and I loved the rural lifestyle. Times change. The 25 minute commute to downtown Dallas is a distant memory. The rural lifestyle has become a faux rural lifestyle, but the lake is still there. I am still happy with Rowlett.
You have your own reasons for living in Rowlett. However, we have a common goal. We must try to build a town that serves the needs and provides the lifestyle that accommodates the wishes of most of the residents. That probably means we all have to give a little. I am reminded of the city council meeting where 20 residents of the Toler Road area showed up to protest the zoning of a proposed subdivision. The homes to be built were worth more, on the average, than the value of the homes doing the protesting. I had never seen that before. In any event, the protester's prevailed. A neighbor had his property rights infringed, and the city of Rowlett lost a potential of $600K a year in tax revenue. However, the protesters could still look out their kitchen window and see a cow pasture. Frankly, I hope something is built there that has a 30 foot high concrete block wall built around it. Each man, woman, and child in Rowlett is paying $11 per year in taxes for these 20 residents to keep a pasture they don't own vacant. Not hardly a community spirit. These protesters succeeded because they banded together and got their message to the City Council. They were loud and disruptive. Council cratered.
To a less dramatic degree, citizens have to do the same thing. You have to let "officialdom" know what you want. But.......that is only effective if you know why you want it.
You must root thru your belongings and find your brain. You must put it to work. Then, you must let "officialdom" know what you think. This whole process is dependent on making your brain work. That is the hard part of this equation. If you just send "officialdom" a story you heard at the grocery store, you are just part of the faceless crowd. Buy a calculator. Use it. If you have a computer, there is a wealth of information about how cities grow and prosper. Be careful, tho. Some who claim to be experts are not.
I really like Rowlett. In my 40 years here, it has become my true hometown. I like the people. I like the lake. No body else has a lake quite the same way we do. I like the new development.......but I think it could be better. I applaud the new Villages of Rowlett. I want it, but we spent too much money on it.
Even though Rowlett is growing, there is nothing that says we can't tweak the dials to get a better town. Furthermore, there is nothing to prevent us from learning from past mistakes. We can't change what's done, but we can sure get smarter the next time around.
Give your elected officials a break. Don't make them do all the thinking. You might become disappointed. You do some of the thinking.......then let your elected officials know about it. In your spare time, start looking for people who you think might be good leaders.
All the above is your job as citizens. The people of Rowlett. Who are we?