Sunday, March 16, 2014

Creativity Can Shape the Future of Georgetown

Published in the Sun March 12, 2014

Where do we want Georgetown to be heading over the next 10 years?  When planning a journey, it is possible to go to the airport and buy the cheapest ticket you can find to whatever destination is on sale.  It’s possible, but it is not the best way to end up in a fabulous location, and it is certainly not the best way to conduct a business trip.  A better scheme (and the one most of us use in our personal lives) is to decide exactly what we would like to do and then figure out how to get to the place we want to be.

So with the subject of goals for Georgetown in mind, I asked a few friends to think “out of the box” about what would make Georgetown an even better place to live.  Here are some of their very interesting ideas.

Tamara Hudgins wrote, “Why the Recreation Center is closed on Sundays baffles me.  People who work have two days to recreate.  Why prevent us from recreating on Sundays?”  The people should rise up and demand Sunday recreation.

Celeste Adams wants Georgetown to be a “Green City,” promoting energy and water efficiency in new commercial buildings.  She suggests that we apply for an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow to help create financial strategies for energy and water management.  Climate Corps Fellows have worked with mega corporations such as AT&T, Facebook, Apple, and various cities including Dallas, Atlanta, and Cleveland.  Celeste would also like to see native, drought tolerant landscaping and LEED certified buildings.  If she had her way, city tax exemptions would only be considered for businesses that meet strict efficiency standards.

On a roll, Celeste also suggested a solar powered city bus system.  Since a solar powered bus would have to be electric, and I had never heard of an electric bus, I almost dismissed her suggestion.  But then I read that just this week California’s King Canyon Unified School District began picking up students with an electric bus.  Celeste was way ahead of me.

A lot of people want buses, especially buses that go from Sun City to Wolf Ranch and the Square.  If not electricity, city buses and official vehicles could run on natural gas or propane.  We have a company right here in town, CleanFuel USA, that specializes in propane vehicles.  Bill Snead at Texas Crushed Stone is planning to modify some of his heavy equipment to run on natural gas.

Jonathan Dade, an Army veteran who in two weeks will be cycling in the Ride 2 Recovery from Houston to Fort Worth to benefit injured veterans, wants Georgetown to become more veteran friendly, especially for young veterans and their families.  Maybe we could let veterans use the Rec Center for free on Sundays!  Of course what really makes a city veteran friendly is to have jobs for them, and awesome places where they can afford to live.

Speaking of jobs, I read recently that Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car company, is looking at Texas as a possible location for a lithium-ion battery factory which would employ 6500 people.  Wouldn’t it be cool to lure those tech jobs to Georgetown?  They could hire veterans.

What about expanding our system of bike trails into the neighborhoods off Leander Road?  The bridges across IH 35 are definitely hostile to cyclists.  Only the most intrepid cyclist would attempt to ride a bike from Leander Road to Wolf Ranch, and I certainly wouldn’t let a child try it.  Sam Pfiester and Jack Garey are already working on a scheme to extend the bike trail along the South San Gabriel all the way to Garey Ranch.

Davin Hoyt noticed that the students at Southwestern don’t have a grocery store within easy walking distance and suggests a healthy co-op style market in that area.  A number of people would like to see a Trader Joe’s in Georgetown.  My daughter Kimberly wants a healthy eating place with an indoor playground for kids.  And when, oh when, are we going to get a combination bookstore/coffee shop/brewery on the Square?

Milton Jordan steps way out on a limb and wants to see a city-wide minimum wage in the range of $10 an hour.  He suspects there may be a state law against that kind of innovation but aren’t we in favor of local control?

Georgetown is lucky to be growing and prosperous.  We have a great opportunity to decide which direction we are headed, so don’t keep your out-of-the-box ideas to yourself.