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HUTTO: We’re happening!
by Mike Fowler
As everyone can see and knows Hutto is rapidly growing! Recently, the City of Hutto www.cityofhutto.com leaders conducted an inter-council planning exercise to look at the strengths, weaknesses, threats, missed opportunities and visions for our community. At the first council meeting in December, 2005 a workshop was conducted on growth issues. Councilwoman Ronnie Quintanilla- Perez was kind enough to ask what I thought about these areas in advance and I gave her some of my thoughts. I’d like to share some of these ideas with you as a starting point to generate additional thoughts about some of the challenges and opportunities that face our community. I would also like to challenge you to express your ideas and be heard. Please go to any of the included websites to do your own independent research and a wealth of information that can be very helpful to voicing your concerns and ideas to our federal, state, county, city, school elected officials and other decision makers. I guarantee that if you check out all of these websites you will learn a lot more about the great community where you live.
Population Issues: People are the most important asset that Hutto has going and growing for it. Polo Enriquez, executive director of the Hutto Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) firstname.lastname@example.org calls Hutto, “the fastest growing community in America?” The City of Hutto has gone from a population of 630 citizens in 1990 to over 11,000 residents in the city limits with many more thousands throughout the school district to date. I believe that you can count on the City of Hutto to grow to between thirty and thirty-five thousand residents by 2010 and seventy-five to eighty thousand population by 2020. Hutto has the potential of creating a dynamic and capable workforce with the present and impending new population growth. Now is a great time for citizens to get involved in making Hutto even more successful. The workforce in Hutto will add intellectual and skill abilities for new employers that are attracted to locate in the area.
Mobility Issues: The International and Great Northern Railroad was the reason for the initial founding of Hutto in 1876. Later when United States Highway 79 (US79) was constructed alongside of the railroad, there was an additional artificial barrier that divided Hutto. Traffic is and will continue to be a huge challenge that Hutto must address for both safety and mobility reasons. US79 is one of the busiest and deadliest highways in Williamson County and massive Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) www.dot.state.tx.us efforts aided by Williamson County www.williamson-county.org are underway to work hand in hand with State Highway 130 (SH130) www.sh130.com towards its improvement. The new crossroads of Hutto at the intersection of SH130 and US79 will be created and forever redefine our Hutto community. The impact on Hutto will be phenomenal. The multi-billion dollar SH130 is presently the largest public mobility project being undertaken in America and will spur growth along its corridor at a rapid pace. SH130 will consist of 91 miles of six to four-lane tollway from International Highway 35 (I35) in Georgetown to International Highway 10 (I10) at Seguin. Responsibility for SH130 is under the Texas Turnpike Authority (TTA) www.dot.state.us/tta, a division of TxDOT, in a public-private partnership with Lone Star Infrastructure (LSI), a private contracting consortium that was awarded the construction bid.
On our local level, many county road improvements are being planned and completed in the Hutto community. Improvements to County Roads 137 and 119 (CR137 and CR119) are now complete. CR119 via the Hutto Loop is now connected to Farm-to-Market 1660 North (FM1660N). This almost three million dollar Hutto Loop project will provide connectivity to CR110 and to CR136 eventually rejoining US79. These and other projects will ensure cost effective mobility for goods being transported in and out of Hutto. Go to www.roadbonds.org for more information.
Education Issues: A major reason that people have chosen to move to Hutto is the good quality of our schools. The Hutto Independent School District (Hutto ISD) www.hutto.txed.net has reacted to the rapid growth by passing new school bonds, building new schools and adding quality teachers and staff at a rapid rate. Tin keeping with the vision statement of the Hutto ISD of “Moving Forward…Reaching Potential” and their mission statement of: “Hutto ISD, valuing the importance of learning, forms an educational partnership with the community to assist and empower all members to achieve their potential.” Administration and the seven member Hutto ISD Board of Trustees are responsible for meeting the educational needs of the school district and must have balanced citizen input to make the important decisions that will impact the education of our children, our grandchildren and the quality of our community. Take the challenge, learn about our schools and get involved. Hutto hippos have pride in our schools and our community.
Economic Development Issues: Growing in a manner that creates job, that allows the Hutto community to be self-sustaining is all important. Creating jobs that enable people to work where they live is important now and will be even more important in the future. Well paid jobs here in Hutto will provide a multiplier effect on the Hutto economy. As more business and industry locates in Hutto we will prosper
Facility Issues: Responding to the needs of our community will be primarily market driven. Housing, retail and economic development are driven by a free economy. That is when the demand is there and the demographics bear it out facilities and services will come. It is also very important that Hutto preserve our ever shrinking past and heritage. Proportionally with growth the size of our original city shrinks. As a result it is very important that we save the look and feel of the 1911 incorporated area (Old Town) and the Hutto COOP property. We are now building a new Hutto that will someday have the health care services, grocery stores and many other amenities that we would like to have in Hutto. A new Post Office, a first ever Williamson County annex will soon be built in Hutto. When I moved here in 1978, there was a lot that Hutto did not have in the way of facilities. What we did have and still have are some really great families and people that were committed to Hutto. The facilities are improving with more banks, restaurants, services, shops, Let’s continue with that tradition of greatness and the new facilities will come. Let’s also respect our heritage and allow for opportunities that uniquely reflect Hutto.
Too many opportunities are missed and Hutto
cannot afford to allow the positive aspects of growth of today and
tomorrow to pass by due to lack of planning . Hutto needs more services
for our community. Hutto requires more amenities and we certainly
need a much healthier tax base to help reduce the burden placed on
homeowners. Strong commercial growth and economic development are vital
to Hutto’s future and are now occurring. However; Hutto must go
beyond being a bedroom community serving the surrounding areas and
create our own viable economy. While this economic development is the
beginning to happen; both the Hutto Chamber of Commerce and the Hutto
EDC must continue to bring business opportunities to Hutto. The
ultimate goal is that Hutto pursue our visionary statement and have a
sustainable economy. To achieve our vision we must understand our
past, where we are at today and where we want to go as a city. I
encourage the synergy of new ideas and solutions that will help to
reinvent and enhance our community.
Your elected officials: From the President of the United States on down to the bottom of the ballot, these people are all elected by you…or not! If you are not registered to vote, take the time to get registered. Full information on voter registration is available at: http://wcportals.wilco.org/elections/index.html. Without voting you have no real impact on who is representing you…or not! Get to know your elected officials and let them know that you expect their help in achieving the best for Hutto.
You: There will also be opportunities to serve in an elective capacity or through appointments to boards and commissions with the City of Hutto and the Hutto Independent School District. This added public service opportunity for our city, school, churches, community organizations will make Hutto a stronger and better place for all. Let your city and school leaders know what you think and how you feel about issues and your ideas for a better Hutto. There are many places where you can volunteer: try the Chamber of Commerce, the Fire Department, the schools, the city, the churches, the service clubs … just ASK around, the opportunities are ever present.
Visions for the future of Hutto: The City of Hutto mission statement is as follows: "To provide exemplary public service, to passionately pursue comprehensive planning, economic diversity and a self-sustaining environment that will enrich our current quality of life, embrace Hutto's unique heritage, and improve the beauty of our city so that future generations will want to raise their families in Hutto." If you appreciate the intent of these words, figure out some way that you can help. As we deliberate on our future, I do hope that our citizens and leaders will always ask the basic question: “Is it good for Hutto?” One person can make a difference; many people working together can make miracles.
What do you think? Take some of your time and energy to express your thoughts and beliefs to all who will listen. Again, as you formulate your ideas and thoughts please ask “Is it good for Hutto? and be passionate in your pursuit of making Hutto a better community.
It is very clear that Hutto is a growing and vibrant community. We are not a town in decay and dying like so many other small communities throughout rural Texas. Hutto is very proud of our heritage and we are excited about our future. Hutto is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and our tomorrows are bright. Important elections will take place for Williamson County, the City of Hutto and the Hutto Independent School District this spring. Be personally active! Take time to express yourself and please take this as your own personal challenge to get involved in our community and make Hutto an even better place to live. Yes, Hutto is happening and we are the place to be!
Mike Fowler is an author, The Capitol Story: Statehouse in Texas; Hutto Lutheran Church: A Century of Community Faith and is working on a history of Hutto. He is also a retired State of Texas employee and served for twenty-five years as Councilman and Mayor of the City of Hutto. Mike currently chairs the City of Hutto Historical Preservation Commission. He is also a licensed real estate broker and owns TEX US Real Estate and has a degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin. Mike can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com .