Richardson's annual State of the City address touches on city projects, accomplishments in 2019

Mayor Paul Voelker delivers the annual State of the City address Jan. 29. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mayor Paul Voelker delivers the annual State of the City address Jan. 29. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mayor Paul Voelker delivers the annual State of the City address Jan. 29. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)

Richardson’s efforts and accomplishments over the past year were recapped Jan. 29 at the annual State of the City address.

The presentation, led by Mayor Paul Voelker, began with an update on the city’s recovery from the Oct. 20 tornado. The storm left behind 4 miles of damage, destroyed 12 properties and damaged another 60, he said.

Voelker commended the city for its quick and efficient response to the storm. There is a long road to recovery ahead, but Richardson will bounce back, he said.

“We are strong because we are resilient and able to beat adversity,” Voelker said.

The address also touched on the city’s ongoing efforts to carry out bond projects approved by voters in 2015. Last year, the city began construction on its new Richardson Fire Department Station No. 3 in Canyon Creek while also finalizing the design for the Richardson Senior Center renovation.

Once fully implemented, the 2015 bond will have improved 1.7 miles of local streets, reconstructed 3.8 miles of alleys and built more than 10 miles of new sidewalks, according to the city.

Transportation improvements, such as the completion of the Spring Valley Road rehabilitation project and a groundbreaking on the Silver Line, were also included in the address. The Silver Line is Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s newest east-west passenger rail that will include two stops in Richardson.

The city was also granted $100,000 from Degree Deodorant and Blue Zones and $15,000 from the AARP to install bike lanes and a pedestrian crossing along a section of Greenville Avenue.

A comprehensive rezoning of the Richardson Innovation Quarter was another major accomplishment in 2019. The new form-based code opens the door for revitalization by allowing a diverse mix of businesses, Voelker said.

Rounding out the list of the city’s economic development gains was the announcement of Texas Instruments’ decision to invest $3 billion in the expansion of its chip manufacturing facility in north Richardson.

The city’s philanthropic efforts, aided by several community partners, was also a focus of the address. The opening of an inclusive playground for users of all ability levels was made possible through a fundraiser spearheaded by the Richardson East Rotary Club as well as a naming rights donation by Chuck and Ann Eisemann.

Achievements in public education include the launch of Richardson ISD’s Collegiate Academies program and the continued work on a new Performing Arts Center in Plano ISD.

At the higher education level, a $5 million donation made by Texas Instruments to UT Dallas will allow research faculty to apply for funding grants of $50,000 per year for the next six years. The gift is intended to attract and retain promising scholars by providing startup funding for independent research activities, according to UT Dallas.

Voelker ended the address by citing some of the challenges Richardson faces in light of funding restrictions imposed by Senate Bill 2, which caps the amount of property tax dollars cities can collect.

“Our city manager has dubbed this a new era because this will have a long-term impact on the services this city can provide,” he said.

However, the city’s “strong economic base” will help pull Richardson through this trying time, he said. This fiscal year, the city has nearly $300 million in its operating budget that maintains the current property tax rates from the last fiscal year, he added.

To watch the address in full, visit this link.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer

Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


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