RICHARDSON STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS HIGHLIGHTS 2011 SUCCESSES, PROGRESS TOWARDS ACHIEVEMENT OF COUNCIL GOALS
City Announces Intent to Develop First Cultural Arts Master Plan, Previews New City Website
Former Richardson Mayor Bob Townsend delivered the annual State of the City Address, a free, open-to-the-public event held at Richardson’s Eisemann Center, and declared that the state of Richardson is strong. Mayor Townsend’s remarks focused heavily on the Richardson City Council’s statement of goals in various “areas of excellence,” and the City’s 2011 accomplishments in each of those focus areas.
Among the highlights in each area of emphasis, he also spotlighted six major accomplishments that the community should be proud of, including:
- Richardson was designated the International Business Capital of North Texas last year by the Texas Legislature, in recognition of the global businesses in Richardson, the worldwide reach of the high-tech innovations developed in Richardson, and the diverse, international flavor of the Richardson community.
- The City rezoned more than 140 acres adjacent to the DART Bush Turnpike Station for transit-oriented development, which also earned a Celebrating Leadership in Development Excellence (CLIDE) Award for leadership in planning.
- Following the zoning ordinance for the West Spring Valley Corridor redevelopments, the City Council adopted new standards to improve the quality of future construction and to create new economic opportunities.
- To help identify other redevelopment opportunities, the City hired Catalyst Commercial to research ways to enhance existing retail areas and implement the product of the research, bringing prominent retailers to targeted areas.
- This month, the City celebrated the official launch of the new, state-of-the-art P25 communications system, the first fully interoperable, digital, trunked, P25 Land Mobile Radio public safety communications system in North Texas integrating best-in-class network infrastructure and radio components from disparate manufacturers.
- Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department received the 2011 Texas Recreation and Park Society’s “Gold Medal” for excellence.
- The City’s free community newsletter, Richardson Today, is mailed every month to 39,000 homes, and in 2011 it received the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers Silver Star Award.
- There have been expanded efforts by the communications staff to include social media outreach, and the communications staff also launched a valuable online tool, the award-winning 2010 Bond Program Tracker.
- Richardson’s CITV division was recognized in 2011 as the Best in Texas in Overall Excellence by the Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.
- The City’s 2012 Bond Program includes more than $8 million for new screening walls, neighborhood entry features and bridge aesthetic projects.
- An additional $16 million will be spent on neighborhood improvement projects that will bring new alley segments, resurfaced residential streets and flood erosion and prevention projects to many parts of the city.
- The City’s Home Improvement Incentive Program received 66 applications in 2011, which are expected to have an estimated $5.2 million impact through neighborhood re-investment. Since creation in 2007, the program has awarded more than half a million dollars in incentives, and brought nearly $28 million in added value to the local neighborhoods.
- Despite current economic challenges, Richardson’s Economic Development Partnership (REDP) experienced a record year in 2011 for commercial retentions, expansions and relocations
- The City received recognition by the Texas Legislature as the official International Business Capital of North Texas.
- During the first six months of 2011, jobs and leasing activity surpassed the previous year totals, showing renewed vigor in Richardson’s economic indicators.
- Last year, through the REDP, the City was able to retain or create more than 5,600 jobs, and more than 1.5 million square feet of vacant office and industrial space was occupied.
- One of 2011’s most significant developments was the retention and relocation of Fossil, consolidating its two Richardson operations into a single 535,000-square-foot facility, the remodeled, former Blue Cross Blue Shield office at Spring Valley.
- Additionally, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson signed a lease for 460,000 square feet at the former Nortel campus, and announced plans to add 1,400 workers in Richardson.
- Governor Perry came to Richardson to announce that VCE, a cloud computing company, would establish its headquarters in Richardson after a nationwide search, eventually spawning 450 high-paying jobs.
- In 2011, four Richardson ISD high schools ranked in the top five percent of U.S. high schools by the Washington Post, adding prestige to the school district that now has 23 national blue ribbon schools.
- Plans were announced for the Plano ISD and Texas Instruments to launch and develop Plano’s first academy that will focus on science, technology, engineering, math and digital arts.
- Richardson ISD achieved an Exemplary or Recognized rating for all of its schools, and Plano ISD’s elementary schools in Richardson also achieved Exemplary and Recognized ratings.
- UT Dallas received its highest ranking ever in the U.S. News & World Report “best national universities” roster and continues to work towards becoming a Tier One research university. The school enrolled a record-setting 19,000 students in the fall of 2011.
- Due to its sustainability efforts and strong focus on teaching, learning and community building, Richland College achieved a “STARS” Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in High Education.
- The City has received Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for its Huffhines Recreation Center and Fire Station #2 and is currently working towards LEED certifications for its new gymnastics and Fire Station #4 facilities.
- Richardson’s Tree the Town program served as the catalyst for the City’s participation in the Tree North Texas Project, launched in partnership with the Texas Trees Foundation.
- The City approved zoning for local community gardens in Richardson, enabling community groups to apply for water subsidies.
- As a way to promote water conservation during the drought, the City implemented a rainwater harvesting ordinance.
- The City maintained AAA (highest available) ratings from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, and received an clean opinion from KPMG during an independent audit of the City’s financial records.
- For the second consecutive year, the Texas Comptroller recognized Richardson as a gold member in the Comptroller’s Leadership Circle Awards for fiscal transparency.
- The City continues to be recognized by organizations such as the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and the National Purchasing Institute.
- To offer complete transparency, the City live broadcasts council meetings, and for the first time, the Council’s 2011 budget retreat meetings were accessible live on the City’s website.
- The City maintained its fiscal transparency initiative by allowing residents to track municipal purchases and expenditures online.
Healthcare Facilities and Community Wellness
- On October 1, 2011, Methodist Richardson Medical Center (MRMC) became fully owned and operated by Methodist Health System. MRMC continues to expand its clinical services and is currently investing $3.4 million to convert media records to an electronic system.
- The City also benefits from its new employee health and wellness partnership with MRMC. The plan allows significant cost savings to employees through a rebate program, resulting in $30,000 savings to taxpayers last year.
Land Use and Development
- Richardson rezoned more than 140 acres adjacent to the DART Bush Turnpike Station for transit-oriented development and subsequently earned a CLIDE Award for leadership in planning from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).
- The City is utilizing zoning ordinances to develop guidelines that will promote quality projects in areas like the Spring Valley Corridor and around the Bush Turnpike Station.
- In 2011, the City’s Development Services department was recognized by the state chapter of the American Planning Association for “planning excellence” and by the Greater Dallas Planning Council for its efforts at enhancing the built environment.
- The City is using its existing programs, such as the Wildflower! Festival and Cottonwood Arts Festival, to attract crowds from across the region to Richardson.
- The Eisemann Center, celebrating its 10-year anniversary this September, is another venue within Richardson that attracts a variety of outside audiences. Since its opening, the center has hosted more than 3,500 events featuring arts groups, corporate presentations and special events, and attendance for 2011 was over 190,000, a five percent increase from the previous year.
- Due to the recent drought and implementation of water conservation measures, Richardson has entered an agreement with the City of Dallas to purchase water if other sources become limited.
- Additionally, the North Texas Municipal Water District completed a 48-inch water transmission line along Renner Road to reinforce Richardson’s water supply.
- The Richardson Police Department recorded an overall six percent drop in crime in 2011, contributing further to the 16-year decline of crime rates in Richardson.
- This year, the American Heart Association presented an award to the Richardson Fire Department and Methodist Richardson Medical Center for their rapid response in the treatment of a heart attack victim, with a 43 minute elapsed time from the 911 call until the doctors treated the patient. Median response time in Texas for this treatment is nearly three hours.
Transportation and Mobility
- As part of the 2010 Bond Program, more than $24 million has been committed to local roadways including sidewalk replacement projects and 36 alley reconstruction projects.
- In 2011, signage and pavement markings were installed for new bike lanes along Yale Blvd. and Apollo Road. Additionally, the City completed the Spring Creek Nature Trail, another segment in the hike and bike system that connects east and west Richardson and links up with North Texas’ Regional Trail Network.
- Richardson was recognized by the North Texas Clean Air Coalition as a “Working for Clean Air Employer of the Year.”
With over 99,000 residents, the City of Richardson is widely recognized for its commitment to excellence, its rich history and its bright future, all of which make Richardson a smart choice for residents and businesses. Known globally for its high-tech business leadership, the City of Richardson also offers a high quality of life, diverse array of neighborhoods, convenient Metroplex location, multi-modal transportation infrastructure and outstanding City services. Richardson has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top places to live and work by the national media, and the City remains dedicated to continuous improvement, as well as to the principles of open government and two-way communications with residents. To learn more, visit www.cor.net.