Tag Archives: Princeton Texas

City to be remade … totally!

The Princeton (Texas) City Council has delivered a decision that is bound to change the rapidly changing profile of the city even more dramatically than any decision made in many decades.

The council approved a zone change for a 91-acre parcel of land north of U.S. 380 and west of Beauchamp Boulevard that signals the beginning of a new 36-store (for now) shopping complex.

It’s a huge deal, man. I mean, it is — shall we say — really huge!

But with any major piece of economic news such as this, there must be an examination of the concerns it likely will bring. I’ll get to that in a second.

The development will bring major retail outlets such as Market Street, Hobby Lobby, Mashall’s and Lowe’s to Princeton. It also will add a huge number of smaller businesses throughout the complex. Officials expect the complex to generate about 1,500 new jobs, generating about $225 million annually in sales.

Developers plan to begin site preparation this summer. They hope to open some of the outlets by 2026.

Now, what about the downside?

It’s a big concern, man. U.S. 380 already is jampacked with vehicles during morning and late-afternoon rush hours. One must ask: What is the addition of all that traffic going to do to the traffic (non)flow  during those times?

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to construct a highway bypass around Princeton. When will that occur and when will it be finished? Well, I don’t expect to live long enough to see that massive traffic project completed.

“This is something that will forever change the landscape of our city,” Mayor Brianna Chacon said, according to the Princeton Herald.

Indeed, the city’s municipal landscape already is changing rapidly, with the enormous growth that is occurring here. The population signs noting 17,027 residents living here after the 2020 Census already is grossly out of date. Many experts peg the city’s current population at slightly less than 30,000 residents.

Someone recently posted a social media message noting the pending arrival of these businesses. Then I heard some chatter around town from folks asking, “Where are they going to put all those stores?”

Well … now we know.

Seek an identity, Princeton

The city I now call home needs to make a New Year’s resolution. I am not aware of any effort at City Hall to do so … so I’ll offer one of my own.

Princeton, Texas, needs to resolve that 2024 is the year when it locates a municipal identity. It needs to define it clearly, put it in writing if need be.

Then, under the guidance of an aggressive and progressive city council — and a city manager the council will hire eventually — Princeton should begin to develop that identity. It needs to make it a reality. It needs to say out loud and with crystal clarity that Princeton will become more than just a place where developers build houses.

One thing the city could do is establish a sister city relationship with a community overseas. Farmersville, a much smaller community about seven miles east of us, did so recently when it became a municipal “sister” to Holtzwihr, France. The two cities have someone in common: Audie Murphy, the highly decorated soldier who received the Medal of Honor for effectively saving the French village single-handedly from German troops laying seige near the end of World War II.

Murphy declared that Farmersville was his hometown when he enlisted in the Army. So it was a natural fit. Farmersville celebrates its famed son every summer with Audie Murphy Day.

I don’t know if Princeton has an obvious peg such as Farmersville. But surely it can develop a municipal relationship overseas to advance the city’s identity abroad.

I like living in Princeton, which continues to enjoy tremendous growth. Derek Borg, the former city manager, told me once he believed the city’s posted population of 17,027 residents was outdated before the signs went up along U.S. 380.

Borg is gone from public office. The city still hasn’t chosen a strategy to find a new manager. Time is a wastin’, folks.

An aggressive, progressive city executive ought to be charged with finding an identity to adorn the city’s profile.

So … let’s get busy. Shall we?

Merry Christmas … whoever you are

Occasionally, you meet someone on a very casual basis and you recall them, even if it isn’t necessarily with fondness.

So it was for me today as I ventured into our local Wal-Mart store in Princeton, Texas.

I burrowed through the crowd to pick up a couple of items I would need to take tomorrow morning to see my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. All the manned checkout stations had lengthy lines of customers; and all the stations had staffers working them.

So … I lined up at the end of the long line waiting to check my own groceries. I had only about four items. Hey, no sweat. The guy in front of me was bitching up a storm about the length of the line.

“It’s weird to take 15 minutes to find your stuff and then take two hours just to check out,” he grumbled. “I should have gone over to Farmersville, to Brookshire’s,” he said. I told him all the manned check-out stands here were up and running. He didn’t believe me. I also reminded him that Brookshire’s likely was a madhouse, too.

Good-humor guy that I am, I kept laughing, partly to keep my own frustrations subdued, but also at this dude’s constant carping. I tried to remind him that if he had done this shopping a day or two earlier he wouldn’t have faced this madness. He was too busy griping to hear what I said.

The lengthy line was moving rapidly toward the front. He yammered and blathered every step of the way.

Then … presto! Before he and I could catch our breath, he proceeded to an empty self check-out machine. Then he was gone.The time it took for him to leave the store from the time I sidled in behind him? Oh … maybe 10 minutes.

The time in line flew by mainly because I was so enthralled by this guy’s frustration, I paid no attention to the massive crowd inside the store.

Then I was gone, heading for my house around the corner and down the street.

So, to this Grinchy-like dude, I want to offer him — wherever he is — a Merry Christmas.

And to you as well.

Home rule panel slogs on

Princeton’s home-rule charter committee is moving forward on drafting a document that it hopes will be ready for the city’s voters to decide this coming November.

I am hearing a bit of chatter that the city’s effort to craft a governing document that enables the city to govern itself might not pass voters’ muster when they cast their ballots. I do hope that chatter is wrong.

The basis for that chatter comes from the city’s misstep in setting up the committee. Voters gave the city permission to create a charter committee this past November. It didn’t have enough members. The city then disbanded the committee and formed a new one. The process delayed the municipal vote, which now is tentatively set for this fall.

I am going to bank on the notion put forth by Mayor Brianna Chacon, who told me that the city’s burgeoning population has brought in a fresh new set of opinions on this issue. It will need those outlooks to reverse four previous citywide rejections of previous charter proposals.

The dealbreaker in those elections was the annexation. The 2017 Texas Legislature took that issue off the table by enacting a law that requires cities to obtain property owners’ permission to annex their property. Thus, that argument is no longer valid.

I am going to hope that Princeton is able to enact a city charter so it becomes a home-rule city instead of a general law city that is governed by rules established by state statutes.

Indeed, the city’s population has exploded. Princeton now is home to an estimated 20,000-plus residents. That number is growing each day. I see it happening in my neighborhood, where houses are spring up like prairie weeds.

There is no end in sight.

I wish the home-rule panel as it slogs its way through the process of drafting a document that will enable Princeton, Texas, to set its own rules for how it governs itself.