Laura Wheat has been mayor of Westlake since 2008, helping to guide the town through its own residential and commercial growth as the metroplex has experienced tremendous growth around it. Wheat spoke to Community Impact Newspaper about Westlake’s lessons from 2021, opportunities for 2022 and more.

What are some lessons you took from 2021?

While Zoom is great, there’s no substitute for being in the room, so I guess the fact that we were able to get everyone back into the classroom [at Westlake Academy] ... we’re back in the council chambers, our town offices—everyone’s back in the room together. We’re just operating so much more efficiently [and] effectively than we were able to do remotely.

What are you excited about for the town?

The town of Westlake is just 50% developed, which means we’re 50% undeveloped, and there is lots of change in the air. We’ve got new housing opportunities, which are coming out of the ground as we speak. So, I’m excited about welcoming new neighbors. Entrada, the Catalonian-style development at the corner of Davis Boulevard and Hwy. 114—that’s been a long time in taking shape, but the developer is making real progress. As soon as the access road allows for access into the back of Entrada, those restaurants will be opening up. ... Larry North [Fitness] is being replaced by Lifetime Fitness, so it’s growing in significant size and offerings, and that’s going to be just a great addition to Westlake.

How do you approach the town’s undeveloped land?

The 50% undeveloped part represents an opportunity and a challenge. ... People have different expectations. Oftentimes, our stakeholders have competing needs and competing expectations. So, managing those is a real challenge. ... Hillwood—a wonderful corporate partner—owns the vast majority of our undeveloped land. They, of course, have different ideas for it than the folks who want to see longhorns on it forever. So that is a real opportunity for us to try and manage expectations and to find common ground.

What makes Westlake a great place to live?

You have to start with people. ... We come from all different walks of life, all different parts of the world, literally ... but we do love living in Westlake, and there’s a commonality to that, which is really special. ... Westlake Academy is a huge driver for folks coming to Westlake. We, as a town, own the school. ... It’s truly our crown jewel.