Harkrider inviting opinion leaders to discuss long-term goals for the community

One member of the City Council says he believes it’s time for the community to come together to develop long-term goals to guide the anticipated growth of Liberty Hill.

“We don’t have any long-range goals for the city. I think we need to look five to 10 years away to see where we want to go as a community,” said Jack Harkrider. “If we don’t plan for the growth, we will find ourselves forever responding to crises.”

In recent days, Harkrider mailed letters at his own personal expense to about 30 individuals inviting them to participate in a day-long retreat for the purpose of developing some goals for the community.

About seven years ago, he was part of the Council that adopted a Comprehensive Development Plan for the City under the leadership of then-Mayor Connie Fuller. He said at that time, the Council had good intentions, but there was no follow-up.

Only five people attended a Town Hall meeting scheduled one year later that was intended to be a follow-up on implementation of the plan, he said.

Harkrider said he has been working about three months on the concept of developing long-term community goals. He said input from various opinion leaders will launch the effort, and a draft plan will be brought to the community for further input.

When a plan is adopted, he said he envisioned it to be a guide that local governments would use as they make decisions moving forward to deal with population and business growth.

“I would hope that we could look at this document and ask ourselves if what we’re about to do fits in with our goals,” he said, adding that this is not something applicable only to city government.

He said members of the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees have been invited to participate as well as district administrators.

Harkrider said that so far, he has received positive feedback from a host of people who will bring different perspectives to the discussion. He said he expects the interest to be higher this time around.

“There was a general lack of involvement then (at the time the Comprehensive Development Plan was adopted), but I think things have changed since the last election,” he said. “There seems to be more interest now in becoming involved in the community.”

Harkrider said it was difficult to choose those who would be invited to participate in the first level of discussions. He said invited participants were asked to rank their preference on proposed meeting dates this summer, and he is still waiting for some to respond with their interest. He said he would not reveal the names of those invited until he received those confirmations.

Harkrider said he is organizing the event on his own, without the involvement of the Council or city staff, although they have been invited to participate.

Those who attend the first meeting will be asked to bring ideas to the table on a number of issues, including infrastructure, utilities, annexation, education and mass transit.

“From there, the plan will be distilled into something the group can work with to develop goals for the community,” he said.

“The goal is not to gain power for any one group. We should try to get ideas from the public and then hope the Council and school board will adopt it and head in a positive dynamic direction moving forward,” he said. “I think this can help pull our community together.”