by David Abdel
With the New Year upon us it comes time for that ages old tradition of setting resolutions. For many, New Year resolutions are often treated more like a wishlist than an agenda. When I was in the classroom, I would always work with my students on crafting resolutions for the New Year, and focused on developing clear, small and manageable goals. I’ve found that moderate, measured steps toward success help keep people on the path to a greater goal, far more than simply setting a lofty, often outlandish goal and simply hoping you reach it. With that in mind, I’ve created a set of resolutions for our little town in 2021.
• Improve community outreach. We are living in unprecedented times of communication. There are more social media avenues, more video conferencing tools and more means of direct contact than ever before. For our city officials, connecting with their constituents has truly never been easier. However, the general consensus seems to be that the public is never heard, never involved and never engaged. Having a website is the absolute bare minimum in today’s world, it simply just isn’t enough. I hope that our mayor and city council take it upon themselves to open daily, yes daily, dialogue with the community. If the President can tweet multiple times a day, our council can surely find the time.
• Water the desert. We have one grocery store in this town. I don’t count Walmart and Target as grocers. That means we have one grocery store for roughly 50,000 residents. In comparison, San Marcos has one for every 31,000 and Austin one for every 40,000. If you live on the far east side of Kyle, there is an undue, and costly, burden of travel to get your basic necessities. On top of this, there is a drastic lack of plant-based options in town. Some will immediately point out that HEB does in fact sell vegetables, but those are not the be all end all of a plant-based lifestyle. There is a lack of affordable, and in many cases even the option to purchase vegan food items, cruelty-free products or organic options of many fruits and vegetables. We can be a better fed town for all.
• Provide more for the community. One thing that really makes a town feel like a home is a sense of belonging. It goes without saying that one of the best ways to do that is by physically bringing people together. Obviously COVID still looms large so this will have to be a wait and see recommendation, but I hope 2021 brings us more opportunities to socialize. Our parks department does work hard to provide this and I have to commend their efforts. We have a few adult sports leagues like kickball and roller hockey, but hopefully we can expand out to softball, flag football and soccer. (Maybe they already do, but I couldn’t find anything on the website.) Let’s diversify the workout groups. Perhaps we can have a temporary stage built on Lake Kyle and have a summer concert series. I’ve read about small towns that host community game nights, start a food garden, crowd paint a mural or create a citywide half marathon. All of these are cool ideas. People are eager to participate, if the city can facilitate.
• Open a brewery and a food truck park. Ok, these are clearly on my personal wishlist. Also, yes these are private endeavors, but the city can facilitate the means for these to happen. I have to believe there are more people in Kyle besides me who want these. Craft breweries were one of the fastest growing and most successful businesses pre-COVID. Kyle is one of the only towns in Central Texas without one. They are a big tax revenue generator, and an excellent hub for socialization. A certifiably successful way to grow a local restaurant scene is by starting with a food truck park. Having a group of trucks in a central location where people can go, park, sit and play while trying an array of different cuisines usually becomes an instantly popular location in a small town. As the trucks grow in popularity, developing a strong customer following, they transition into brick and mortar locations with a ready-made base to help ease into a successful restaurant. These two things could breathe new life into a dormant social and culinary scene.
Whether or not these come to fruition, I sincerely hope we all have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.