Tag Archives: Princeton TX

Population sign already obsolete

Whenever they get around to posting these signs at the Princeton city limits, the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will have to consider replacing them with fresh signs … and numbers.

The 2020 Census puts Princeton’s population at 17,027 residents; the 2010 Census had our once-sleepy little town at 6,807 individuals. The increase has nearly tripled between those two Census periods. 

However, the 17,027 figure already is old news. I can tell you that without a doubt there are many more people living in Princeton at this moment than there were when they stopped counting for the most recent Census.

If I were in charge of keeping track of that number, I would go dizzy trying to catch up with the rapid growth that is occurring along our stretch of U.S. 380 in Collin County, Texas.

I’m just sayin’, man.

For sure, our city is far from alone in this exercise in frustration. McKinney is exploding, as is Plano, Wylie, Farmersville, Frisco, Allen, Anna, Prosper, Melissa and many other North Texas communities. 

When you see the 17,027-resident figure whenever they post the next signs at the edges of our city, just know that the number doesn’t mean a thing. The real number of residents no doubt is far greater.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton takes major step forward

The city my wife and I now call home today took a major step forward with a wind-swept ceremony welcoming the opening of its new municipal complex.

Princeton, Texas, has for a few weeks been operating its city government out of a shiny new complex just east of Princeton High School on the north side of U.S. Highway 380.

They cut a ribbon today, listened to some music from a local band, and served some finger food and assorted treats to those of us who came to the event.

It’s a big deal! Check that … it’s a very big deal!

As City Manager Derek Borg noted, the city moved from its cramped 3,400-square foot city building on Main Street into a rented site on U.S. 380 about two decades ago. Then a landowner donated some property to the city, which then floated some certificates of obligation to pay for construction of what they unveiled officially today.

The complex today comprises about 60,000 square feet — or about 20 times the size of the Main Street office. It will serve the city “for decades to come,” Borg said.

To be clear, they aren’t yet finished putting all the finishing touches on the property surrounding the complex. They’re still laying down sod and are sweeping the dirt off the paved walkways around the wetland next to City Hall.

I just have to tell you, though, that the new complex is beaut.

Mayor Brianna Chacon and Borg both have stipulated that the city hall design featuring lots of glass is meant to symbolize the city’s intent to govern in a “transparent” fashion. Given that I still am new to Princeton, and I lack institutional knowledge of how the city has run until now, I will withhold comment on Princeton’s governmental history.

However, I will offer a word of hope that the symbolism expressed by the design of the municipal complex translates to actual transparency as the city spends the investment we taxpayers are making.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Rainbows shine a light of peace

First, an admission: I didn’t take this picture; it showed up on my Facebook feed and I grabbed it to post here.

Someone who lives in my neighborhood snapped it. However, I just want to offer a brief comment on it.

The rainbow came after two hailstorm bursts that pounded our North Texas subdivision. The rain is moving east. It caused a bit of uproar around here. Hailstones the size of medium-sized marbles forced a few of us to move our vehicles indoors; we moved our pickup (most of the way) into our garage.

However, the rainbow after the storm just seemed so refreshing and hopeful to my eyes, given all the distress that bombards us these days.

I just had to share this and hope we can some more hopeful signs of light and peace.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We love our city, but …

I need to stipulate right up front something that needs saying, which is that my wife and I love the city we now call home. Princeton, Texas, is “where it’s at” for us and it’s where we intend to stay, oh, for the duration, if you get my drift.

That all said, the city lacks one important feature that I want to examine in this brief blog post. It lacks any sort of central business-and-entertainment district.

Two things need to be stated. One is that I have discussed this issue with City Manager Derek Borg and he informs me that the city has set forth some long-range concepts for how it wants to enhance what passes for its downtown district, which is the area along Fourth Avenue just north of the Veterans Memorial Park. I haven’t taken the time to examine what those plans entail, but Borg assured me that the city has plans — that so far are still in the far-off stages of execution — for its downtown area.

The second topic is to consider what just occurred in this burgeoning Collin County community. It just opened its new municipal complex, which is about two miles east of the area I have been discussing so far. The new city hall complex sits east of Princeton High School on the north side of U.S. 380. It is, to be clear, a gorgeous collection of offices.

The city at this moment is putting the finishing touches on the landscaping around the complex and has begun work developing the green space and wetlands on the property. It is building walkways through the wetlands. There will be walking paths built in the area. Borg informed me some time ago the city is looking for commercial development to be included on the site, which the city obtained through a donation from a local family.

My first instinct is to wonder out loud how the city is going to develop a vibrant downtown area when it has invested so much of its effort and, yes, money on building a city complex so far away.

I have said more times than I care to remember that every successful city I ever have seen shares one thing in common: They all have busy, attractive and thriving downtown districts. I need not tick them off for you. We do have communities nearby that can make the claim to restoring their downtown districts to the betterment of the community at large. I think of McKinney to the west and Farmersville to the east. City size, by the way, is no factor, as McKinney — the Collin County seat — is home to more than 200,000 residents while Farmersville is home to a little more than 5,000 people.

Princeton — with its population of 17,000 residents — at this moment lacks any sort of central district that can attract anyone. I hope it gets there. I hope the city can find a formula that works. I hope Princeton can craft a community identity that goes along with the enormous and rapid growth that is occurring in this place where we intend to live forever.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Home-rule election is set

Princeton residents are going to get a chance to vote to establish a home-rule charter for the community that is exploding with new residents moving in almost daily.

It took a little hiccup along the way to make it official, but the city’s fifth try at establishing a home-rule charter is going to occur.

The hiccup occurred when, after voters in November approved the formation of a home-rule charter committee, the city couldn’t recruit the minimum of 15 members to serve on the panel that would draft a charter for voters to consider and decide. The city council had to hustle to find enough members. So, it met the other evening in executive (or closed) session to make the decision it needed to make. It then ratified its decision with a recorded vote.

And so, the work begins in drafting a charter that it will present to voter in May.

The charter is an important document for Princeton. Its population has exploded, from 6,807 residents in 2010 to more than 17,000 in 2020; the latter number is growing rapidly at this very moment.

Princeton governs itself as a general law city, meaning it has to follow the rules and laws established by the Legislature. Home rule gives the city greater latitude in deciding zoning matters and establishes a purely “local control” over the way it governs the residents who live here.

I am all in favor of a home rule charter for the city my wife and I now call home. I welcome this initiative.

Princeton is a city on the move and my hope is that Mayor Brianna Chacon is right in believing that the city’s changing demographics, with forward-thinking new residents populating the city, will turn the tide in favor of the city being able to determine its destiny with a charter of its very own.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Fireworks ban? Where? Not here … apparently

I awoke this morning believing I would suffer from sleep deprivation. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t so. Why the fear of being a zombie on this first day of the new year?

Because last night in our Princeton, Texas, neighborhood my bride and I — along with Toby the Puppy — were treated to a serenade of rockets bursting in air.

Which begs the question: I could swear I read somewhere that fireworks are forbidden inside the Princeton city limits, not to mention in our neighborhood, which is managed by a homeowners’ association. I mean, if the city ain’t gonna bust ya for blasting ’em, the HOA surely would do so. Right?

Not even close.

We turned in early last night, not wanting to watch the foolishness at Times Square in NYC. I had hoped for a good night’s sleep. Didn’t happen.

Our neighbors decided to blast away. Our puppy has quite a fear of loud noises, which means he hates the sound of fireworks. I don’t share that fear, but I do like to sleep when it’s time to turn in.

Well … that was then. The good news is that I did wake up this morning. The alternative was, shall we say, not acceptable.

To my neighbors out there who are disposed to blasting those damn fireworks, I just ask them to respect the wishes of those who live nearby who don’t care to join you in the revelry.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

In search of a community identity

My wife and I live in a growing North Texas community that, as near as I can tell, is searching to create an identity for itself.

Princeton doesn’t seem to have a community ID. I don’t hear much talk about finding one. Having lived there for more than two years — and we intend for it to be our “forever home” — it’s just a feeling I get when I venture around the city to run errands or to do whatever it is semi-retired guys do.

The city will have an election in November to take a baby step toward establishing an identity. Princeton will ask voters to approve the establishment of a citizens committee to draft a home-rule charter. The aim is to reel in the reins of power to City Hall and to set the governing rules right here at home. Princeton, which now is home to more than 18,000 residents (and counting!) is governed under “general law,” meaning that the Legislature sets the rules for how this exploding community governs itself.

City Makes Another Run At Home-Rule Charter (ketr.org)

Princeton has tried four times to establish a home rule charter ever since it crossed the 5,000-resident threshold established by the Texas Constitution. Residents who don’t even live in the city have spearheaded efforts to defeat the measure all four times; the anti-charter cabal lives in what is called the city’s “extraterritorial jurisdiction.”

Princeton needs to establish the identity I sense is missing. There is no bustling downtown district. City Hall is going to move from its paltry location along U.S. 380 just west of Second Avenue to a shiny new complex just east of Princeton High School. The municipal complex is going to be a thing of beauty.

Princeton To Welcome New Government Complex (ketr.org)

I don’t have the precise answer as to how Princeton establishes its community ID or how it defines it. I do believe, though, that a thriving community must be more than a sea of rooftops under which families live after working all day. Bedroom communities are fine. I just want more for the city where my wife and I plan to live for the proverbial duration.

Is the home rule charter election set for November a small step toward that end? I do hope so. I want to see take the next step in the spring when it asks voters to decide on the future of a home rule charter for Princeton.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

 

Happy Trails, Part 193: We timed it well

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When we moved into our “retirement home” in February 2019, we were struck at first glance by all the construction that was occurring on our street, not to mention in the Collin County, Texas, community we now call home.

Two-plus years later our timing seems even more profound than it did when we signed the papers on our home in Princeton.

They haven’t yet released the 2020 census figures for Princeton, but our trick knees are telling us that the 2010 figure of 6,807 residents is going to grow by several thousand.

City Manager Derek Borg has said he believes we have nearly 20,000 residents living in our city. He ought to know, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Our subdivision remains a work in progress. They’re continuing to pour slabs and are erecting house frames to our west. The elementary school that opened in 2019 already has exceeded its capacity for students; I am wondering how Princeton Independent School District is going to deal with the steady in-flow of new students.

I’ll be candid about one point, which is that Princeton remains quite underserved in many areas despite the intense and rapid growth. We have no hotel space inside our city limits. Grocery shopping remains limited to one massive supermarket. Fine dining does not exist in the city, at least not yet. We do have an abundance of Mexican food joints, but given my continuing squeamishness about the pandemic, we aren’t eating out much these days.

Princeton City Hall is going to move at the end of the year from its location at U.S. Highway 380 and Second Avenue to a new municipal complex just east of Princeton High School farther east on U.S. 380. That’s going to be a huge accomplishment for the city and I look forward to its opening.

All of this is my way of suggesting that my wife and I have exhibited our impeccable timing. Yep, we’re here for the duration.

Princeton set to make another run at home rule

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Will the fifth time be the charm for Princeton, Texas, to establish a home rule charter?

The City Council has decided to call an election for this coming November that will be the first of a two-step process that officials hope will produce a home rule charter for the rapidly growing Collin County community.

The November election would allow the city to proceed with forming a charter committee. Then the panel would draft a charter and present it to voters who then would decide up or down on the charter in May 2022.

This has been an arduous process for the city that is likely to see its population double when they post the 2020 official census figures. The 2010 census put Princeton’s population at 6,807 residents. The next census figures to exceed 13,000 residents. Indeed, City Manager Derek Borg believes the city’s population might triple. 

I happen to live in a subdivision that is still under construction and from my front porch, I see no end in sight to it all.

Still, the city has gone to the voters four times on a home rule charter. It has lost all four times. The city is believed to be the largest in Texas that is governed under what is called “general law,” or laws established by the Legislature.

It’s time for Princeton to assume full control of issues affecting its own population.

Previous efforts at forming a home-rule charter have gone down largely because of fears of involuntary annexation. Well, the 2017 Legislature took care of that by enacting a law that banned cities from annexing property without the property owners’ permission.

According to the Princeton Herald, the first election in November would ask: “Shall a commission be chosen to draft a new charter?” City Attorney David Overcash said the city isn’t constrained by the election to begin work on forming a charter commission. However,  according to the Herald, “If the voters reject the commission proposal in the November election … the commission would dissolve.”

I am one Princeton resident who wants the city to adopt a home-rule charter. It is past time for the city to take command of its affairs and not dance to the dictates of politicians from afar.

Seeking a slowdown

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton City Councilman Mike Robertson wants to slow ‘em down along U.S. Highway 380. He professes patience as he works with his City Council colleagues and the Texas Department of Transportation.

However, given his own experience as the victim of a serious auto accident while he was living in Irving, it appears that his patience might have its limits.

Robertson is proposing to TxDOT to slow traffic to 40 mph along the entire highway thoroughfare as it bisects the city. The speed limits now vary, from 55 to 45 mph. Robertson says that’s too fast, given the incredible growth and the associated increase in traffic volume.

“When the speed limit is 60,” he said, “you have little chance of getting through a wreck without injury.”

TxDOT must perform traffic studies before it decides whether to adjust the speed limits along any major thoroughfare. The city already has installed a new traffic signal at the intersection of 380 and Princeton Meadows near the city’s western boundary. Another signal is planned for the site next to the new municipal complex under construction closer to the eastern boundary along 380.

Once that project is complete, Robertson said, TxDOT will be able to conduct the requisite traffic studies to help the agency make its speed determination.

Robertson said he doesn’t drive much these days, as he works from home running a continuing education program for chiropractors; he no longer is a practicing chiropractor.

“The frequency and the number of speed-related accidents along the highway” are a great concern for the councilman. He said the Princeton Police Department responds daily to wrecks along the highway and expresses great concern about what the anticipated future growth of the city will do to the traffic volume.

Help is on the way, though, in the form of new thoroughfare construction planned for Princeton and for communities along the Highway 380 corridor. Robertson noted that TxDOT wants to build a 380 bypass that will divert through traffic to a thoroughfare north of the current highway. “The bypass eventually will relieve a lot of the traffic congestion,” Robertson said.

Moreover, the city plans to turn Myrick Avenue south of the highway into a second major east-west right-of-way.

All of that will take time. Perhaps lots of time. It’s the period between now and then that concerns Robertson, which is why he wants TxDOT to make a decision sooner rather than later on the speed limit along Highway 380. “We might get to drop the speed,” he said, “but maybe not as much as I would like.”

Traffic remains a concern along U.S. 380 through many North and Northeast Texas communities. Farmersville, for example, recently received a request for a zone change to build an apartment complex near the U.S. 380 corridor. The Farmersville City Council denied the zone change request sought by the apartment developer, citing the “density” of the housing and the potential traffic congestion that it could produce along the rapidly developing thoroughfare.

Indeed, Collin College recently opened its Farmersville campus, which was one of the possible hazards cited by the council in denying the zone change request.

Princeton, meanwhile, continues to grow at a rapid pace. Its main thoroughfare, U.S. 380, continues to have varying speed limits along its route through the city. City Councilman Robertson intends to keep up the push to slow that traffic down to what he believes is a more reasonable and consistent speed.

NOTE: This blog post was published originally on KETR.org.