The City of Aledo and Aledo ISD came together for a historic joint meeting Wednesday night to continue the process of updating the city’s strategic plan with a presentation from the Velocity Group.
The meeting was led by Velocity Group CEO Daniel Hintz who gave a presentation about unlocking Aledo’s unique value and the steps in order to achieve that.
“The fact that we’re a part of really a historic gathering between the school board and city council I think bodes really well for the conversations that we hope to have,” Hintz said. “Aledo is an ecosystem and we really want to be able to take a look at as much of Aledo as possible. Our recommendations are going to be top line recommendations. They’re going to be recommendations that you can act on and in some cases very quickly. There are going to be recommendations of bigger questions to ask, because asking the right questions is really important in this type of conversation.”
Hintz went over the four factors that create what he calls “DNA of Place,” which are safety, selection, service and surprise.
“Safety doesn’t only mean that I’m not going to walk down the streets of Aledo and get stabbed with a pickax by someone, but it also means the safety of investment, the safety of the ability to live your best possible life and the safety of growing old and being young. That means something very different on an individual basis,” Hintz said. “The next is selection, and this isn’t about your housing, how many red sweaters you can buy, the types of coffee, this means people want to move to a place in which they can connect to other people, the networking. Service, you need to create opportunities for people to get involved. And surprise, a community that stops positively surprising its citizens, people stop paying attention. So the reinvention and reconfiguration of who you are.”
Hintz said the city needs to take the buzz surrounding the school district and see how they can move it beyond that to include the city.
“You have 8,500 people that are going to a football game, so you want 8,500 people to go to a local restaurant or to go to some place before they head to wherever they’re going,” Hintz said. “Building experiences around that energy and the folks that go to those things will make people start telling stories, and those stories drive value.”
Brad Lonberger, senior project manager with Kimley-Horn: Planning and Design Engineering Consultants, presented information about the zoning audit he will be performing.
“We’re going to start looking at what the existing trends are and what the patterns are that you already have in the city,” Lonberger said. “The zoning audit really goes into the finer details and typically what I’m focusing on is the commercial areas — how do you connect your downtown better? How do you make it more walkable? How do you connect streets and development in a meaningful way?”
Developer Matthew Petty went over incremental development, saying small changes can make a big difference within a city.
“If we have buildings that are closer together that have a variety of uses, it produces more revenue and that’s because there are more people there, there’s more activity. Economic revenue is a function of how much activity is taking place,” Petty said. “I think the city’s mission is to improve the quality of life for residents who live there and for the people who might choose to visit. It’s not about making as much money as possible, but I do believe that just like a business, it’s critical for cities to have their revenue exceed their expenses, otherwise you go bankrupt.”
Hintz said a city needs things that generate buzz, not just for kids, but also for adults.
“We’ve heard a lot about kids and of course that’s incredibly important, but what do adults do? Where do they go when they don’t want to be with their kids? We look at those things and see what’s missing to make sure that the adults of this community maintain healthy relationships to the world around them and how they find those things here without having to drive to other places,” Hintz said. “I think you have a lot of deep conversations about the kids, which is awesome, but we also need to have that same conversation about the adults.”
Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall said she feels the relationship between the city and school district has grown significantly, and looking into the buzz surrounding football games and other activities at the district is important to expand to the city.
“So people are coming to the football games and they turn down Bailey Ranch Road, and most of them are coming south from the interstate depending on what school district we’re involved with, so when it’s over what do they do? They go right back to the interstate and never know there’s actually a city beyond on the south side of Bailey Ranch Road,” Marshall said. “Several years ago we talked about how we can drive some of that traffic south, whether it’s pregame or postgame, so there’s some signage there now that has businesses listed with an arrow point south.”
The presentations on the strategic plan continued Thursday with local businesses, area organizations, local churches and the Parker County Economic Development Council, and a public meeting with the Aledo Economic Development Corporation Friday morning to gain additional feedback for the finalization of the plan.
Hintz said they should be bringing back the plan for action by the Aledo City Council sometime at the end of August.