As I spent the last several weeks meeting with residents in the community, I received multiple questions about my perspective regarding redevelopment of east Allen as well as the broader future of Allen.
In summary, I’m excited about Allen’s future. So, with this article, I will highlight some ways I’d like for us to work together in reaching that future…Together.
First, I do not view or talk about Allen as a divided city and I believe we should be careful about not unintentionally setting one part of our great city and neighbors against another. I am a firm believer that it has been ONE Allen that has won all the national accolades in the past and will be the approach to sustain our status as one of the best cities to live, work, and enjoy time with family and friends.
At the same time, referring to an area of Allen in the context of asking about how to maintain or improve that area makes sense and I’m willing to engage in those conversations.
There are two key ingredients that I believe will positively contribute to (re)development of Allen:
First, history has shown that people of vision can make great things happen – such as Mayor Joe Farmer’s vision of a rural town becoming something greater and Mayor Steve Terrell’s strategic vision for growth. Their successors, Debbie Stout, Ken Fulk and others continue to make that vision a reality. As I look ahead, I envision developments throughout the city that all will embrace and be extremely proud of. Whether it be the 121-corridor, the revitalization of our downtown, or investment/development in some of our southeastern spokes such as Greenville Avenue and Allen Heights Drive, we will continue our strong tradition of balancing growth in a manner that benefits all of Allen. We are a unique city relative to our neighboring cities. A 27-square mile city surrounded by cities almost 2.5 times our size, we are positioned to provide the amenities and choices to our citizens that larger cities provide, but yet sustain that small town feel.
While all of us wish that there was a single magic wand that will lead to a “vibrant community with lively destinations and successful commercial centers,” the reality is that it’s a team effort that requires different players to work in tandem with one another. So, if elected, I would approach (re)development in a similar way.
We need to realize that everyone has a unique role. For example, most of Allen is composed of small business owners who are trying to support their families and achieve their dreams. The #1 thing we could do to help those small business owners—much less improve the economic posture of any shopping or development center—is to dine, shop, and be entertained IN ALLEN!! We can find ways to partner with our local chamber to support our business owners in Allen.
In demonstrating that City Council can be a positive team player in this effort, if elected, I would work with my colleagues on City Council as well as City staff to:
- Ensure that the city collects data to facilitate more informed decisions (especially decisions that could impact tax resources) – such as the recent road study that the city completed that rated every mile of Allen’s roads.
- Identify specific projects in the next 1-2 years that are focused on redeveloping older commercial centers.
- Focus on (re)development that increases job opportunities; increases the convenience factor for Allen residents to stay in Allen to shop, dine and have fun.
- Build upon our efforts of revitalizing and enhancing our aging neighborhoods and the strategies to assist residents who establish neighborhood improvement groups.
- Recognize individuals and groups who invest time and talent in their neighborhoods. I would also look to recognize businesses that invest in their community.
I believe my experience in serving the Allen community for more than 15 years will position me to make positive changes in (re)development from the first day of taking the oath. For example, while serving on the Community Development Corporation, I approved projects that revitalized aging playgrounds across Allen, installed new trails around new neighborhoods, and replaced aging and degraded trails and bridges. These kinds of investments attract and retain employers and businesses into Allen.
Similarly, as the chair of the Downtown Steering Committee, I successfully led the team that fulfilled a 20+ year dream of a revitalized downtown into a plan that City Council and City staff have begun to implement.
We must build a safe and vibrant community. Together.
Don’t Forget to Vote for
Tommy Baril for Allen City Council
Election Day is Saturday May 6th and early voting begins April 24th.
Countdown to 2023 City of Allen Election