Wish list has success, better representation
As 2018 gets underway, here is our wish list for the New Year. We’d love to hear yours.
A cooling off of property values. Yes, Fredericksburg is a popular place, but it’s becoming unaffordable for a large percentage of our population. As our appraisals are set 100-percent from market value, rapidly rising markets mean our tax bills rise rapidly, as well.
Additional apartment units. We appreciate the big investment from MacDonald Companies and their new complex on Lower Crabapple Road (with more townhomes underway). This market could easily absorb more rental space, though land prices make finding that investment sweet spot more difficult.
More diversification of our economy. We are blessed with an enviable tourism market, thanks to smart moves by ancestors, agriculturists and entrepreneurs. But tourism can be affected by things completely out of our control, such as national downturn, terrorism and other factors. Diversification and more non-service industries also would help draw more young families.
More childcare facilities for working parents of young children. This is still a huge need for those filling our many area service jobs and current facilities usually have waiting lists.
Continued and stronger growth at our college-level institutions — Texas Tech University-Fredericksburg and Central Texas College. A well-educated workforce will be the result and make our market more attractive to businesses looking to locate here.
A forward-looking new superintendent for Fredericksburg Independent School District. We need a strong person whose ideals center on students, who is dedicated to closing achievement gaps, who is supportive of teachers and staff and has the patience and persistence to deal with the funding games played by state lawmakers. We thank former FISD superintendent Dr. Marc Williamson, who has agreed to lead the district during the interim.
Support for smarter plans for City of Fredericksburg amenities. A parks bond is being revisited and new management is taking over at the municipal golf course.
Continued astute oversight for county development. Lots of people have their eye on Gillespie County, and that includes developers. Our county commissioners court has provided the balance between conservative management and providing the needed services to make development investment attractive.
Financial backing for the smaller and smarter Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts. Now strictly education focused and sure to be a boom to our wine and food industries with training and continuing education.
Progress on a U.S. 290 relief route. A committee has been working diligently on this project but the Texas Department of Transportation’s timeline always seems less urgent, given the statewide scope of their work. We hope an acceptable route is in the planning to give our downtown some traffic relief.
A new congressman (or congresswoman) to replace Lamar Smith who will combine Smith’s civility with a knowledge of the needs of our still-rural area. Texas grew more than any state in the nation last year, so we need someone who can emphasize smart growth policies while ensuring our rural areas prosper along with cities. We also hope this person will have reasonable views on immigration, as some local growers say current policies make it difficult to find an agricultural labor force.
A new state representative. Our current rep Kyle Biedermann is beholden to the Empower Texans lobbying group, was ineffective in his first term and can’t be trusted to make the best decisions on behalf of Fredericksburg, Gillespie County or the FISD. We hate feeling this way about our rep. Fortunately, in Republican primary challenger Dave Campbell, we have someone intelligent and empathetic, who won’t try to control every level of government and who has more than enough conservative credentials to fill the bill.
Support of our local nonprofits. Unsung heroes work each day to help this area’s needy, who can at times be overlooked. Many statewide resources last year went to areas damaged by Hurricane Harvey, but local needs such as basic food and medical care, domestic abuse counseling and school supplies still are still there. Our faith community is strong and so is donor generousity.
Continued prosperity for our area. Growth doesn’t come without change or the occasional challenge for locals, but Fredericksburg still is the envy of most other rural towns.
We wish all of our readers a happy and healthy new year. – Ken Esten Cooke, publisher and editor