Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read June 2023 — Invest: recently sat down with Mayor Stephen Mason from the City of Cedar Hill and Mayor Wes Mays from the City of Coppell as they discussed the current highlights and challenges their municipalities are facing. The pair shared their insights on innovative transit, civic engagement, community outreach and what’s been keeping them busy over the last 12 months.
How do we continue creating an affordable, accessible, and innovative transportation system for residents?
Stephen Mason, Mayor, City of Cedar Hill: Cedar Hill is a small, emerging city with a heavy emphasis on trails for recreation. However, we do not have sidewalks in every community, which can cause challenges for our citizens. To address this issue, we will soon offer our very first mass transit option. STAR Transit, which began June 1, provides a ride-hailing service that will allow citizens to set a time to be picked up for medical appointments, shopping and other necessary outings. Our senior citizens and those with mobility impairments will now have a reliable way of conducting their business.
Wes Mays, Mayor, City of Coppell: We continue to support a city-subsidized transit system for workers coming to our town. We utilize a lift service where workers can call Lyft if they arrive by train or bus, and Lyft will pick them up from the train/bus station and transport them to their work location in Coppell. The city covers the majority of the transit cost. Additionally, we partner with an agency to provide transit for seniors and disabled individuals for various trips, such as to doctors’ appointments or grocery stores, exclusively for our senior population and those who have a mobility impairment. One significant change on the horizon, although it is still several years away and currently under construction, is the DART silver line. We are thrilled to have a station being created just 100 yards south of our southern border in the Cypress Waters area.
What have been some key highlights and achievements for your office and the city since last year?
Mason: In the past twelve months we made major progress on several legacy projects. We cut the ribbon when we completed phase one of our Downtown Complete Streets projects, which will catalyze substantial public and private development in our historic district. We broke ground on our new library and signature park, a development that will create an entire new gathering space for our residents and visitors. Finally, for some time we have recognized the need for a full-service hospital in Cedar Hill. We worked closely with Texas Health Resources as they recently purchased land for development of a new hospital. The project is currently in the design phase, and we anticipate hearing additional details on the timeline for construction later this year.
Mays: We were thrilled to witness the grand opening of VariSpace and McLaren Automotive’s global headquarters. Coppell faces a challenge in terms of limited available land for new development. Currently, we have an average vacancy rate of approximately 3.6% for the existing 33 million square feet of commercial space. Consequently, we have limited space for a large number of new businesses relocating to our city. However, we are fortunate to have excellent corporate partners who have chosen Coppell as their home. In the past year, many of these partners have expanded, including Wisenbaker Builder Services, Rediform, Inc., and Chadwell Supply, Inc.
Nearly two years ago, we opened our Arts Center, which had been ready for operation before the onset of COVID. Due to the pandemic, we had to postpone its opening for about two years. However, when we finally opened its doors, it was met with great enthusiasm and support from our citizens. Our Art Center has been a resounding success, receiving rave reviews. In fact, it was rated as the best small theater venue in North Texas. It’s a source of pride for us, and one of my personal objectives is to ensure its continued success.
Why is it so important for the people to see their government officials active and engaged in building relationships?
Mason: Having active and engaged leadership is part of Cedar Hill’s DNA. For more than two years we gathered public input from the community to develop our award-winning Comprehensive Plan for future growth in Cedar Hill. We also engage our community where they live through targeted programs such as our Neighborhood Walks, a program of door to door visits made by teams of city leaders, including administration, myself, city council members, our fire chief, police chief, department directors and neighborhood leaders. The teams concentrate on a different neighborhood every couple of months, going door to door asking residents how they are doing and for suggestions on how we can better serve the public. Our citizens deserve engaged leaders, and we live up to their expectations every single day.
What community outreach programs does your office have in place?
Mays: In the North Texas area, which is attracting approximately 350,000 new residents per year, housing prices in Coppell have skyrocketed due to high demand. As a city, we closely monitor these housing costs as they impact our tax rate and revenue. Despite the challenges, we have been fortunate to offer our existing residents one of the lowest tax rates they have seen in the past 30 years. It’s a mixed-bag situation since housing availability is limited and demand is high, but we are managing it effectively.
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