In the field with Community Image

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Officers hit the streets to patrol residential, commercial zones

On July 23, staff from the city’s Communications Department spent the day with Neighborhood Enhancement Officer Danny Dill from the Community Image Department to live-tweet a “day in the life” of a Community Image officer. In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of the day’s activities:

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Windows into The Colony

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Main Street art panels represent iconic images from community

While the Main Street reconstruction project resulted in a brand new roadway that paves the way for the city’s future, it also left behind poignant symbols of the city’s past in the form of 20 carefully crafted public art panels.

The 6-foot by 6-foot panels are built-in to the sounds walls so most motorists have surely noticed them by now. Much is lost, however, when seen passing by in a moving vehicle. Community Services Director Pam Nelson, who oversaw the selection, crafting, and installation of the panels along with other city staff and contractors, said everything about the artwork turned out fantastic, especially the depth, dimension, and detail you see up close.

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This panel, titled, “Migration of the Monarchs,” is the northern-most panel on the street, located on the west side of Main near the intersection with Lake Highlands.

“There are small touches in the panels that make them unique to The Colony,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it driving by but if you’re walking along the trail and study them, you’ll see lots of little details.”

Nelson, along with the late Keith Helms, former park development manager for the city, began the project nearly a decade ago by selecting an array of specific images that represented elements of life in the community. Many of the images in the panels you see today are derived from actual photographs of scenes taken in The Colony.

“Our intent all along was that the panels be windows looking into The Colony,” Nelson said. For example, the panel titled, “At Play in the Park” in the eastern sound wall between North Colony Boulevard and Nash Drive, depicts the real tree canopy and sidewalk from a photo of Bill Allen Park.

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This panel is titled, “At Play in the Park,” and was sculpted based on an actual photograph of the sidewalk and tree canopy at Bill Allen Memorial Park. It is located on the eastern sound wall between North Colony and Nash.

“The original photo had a couple walking with their backs to the camera but we decided to go with something that had a little more activity to it,” Nelson said, referring to the children playing catch with a ball. “But the walkway, trees and the whole look is from an actual photograph of Bill Allen.”

Other panels have obvious connections. The panels in the western sound walls are heavy with lakeside scenes such as “Catching the Big One,” “The Wake,” “Taking Flight,” and “Sailing Away,” all of which depict common wildlife or recreation on the lake.

Some panels are in pairs and span places where the sound walls cross the side streets. “We wanted something that would carry across the intersections. Not just a boat or a fish, but what people do when they’re here – like catching fish and wakeboarding,” Nelson said.

Within the eastern sound walls are panels such as “The General,” which depicts Central Fire Station, the General fire truck, and a vintage The Colony Police car – again, all taken from actual photographs. There’s also panels depicting youth sports as a nod to all the activities that take place at the Five Star Complex as well as the city being named a “Sportstown USA” by Sports Illustrated magazine several years ago.

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Perhaps more than any other panel, residents will recognize symbols of the city’s emergency services history in this panel, titled simply, “The General.” It is located on the eastern sound wall south of Hetherington.

Where the walls cross over Hetherington on the east side, two panels titled, “Working the Rector Homestead,” tell a connected story of early life in the community. “We wanted something that showed what life was like here in the early years and what was at the core of our community,” added Nelson.

On the western side of road at the intersection with Ridgepointe is a two-panel spread titled, “Afternoon at the Shoreline Trail,” which includes an image of a family walking near the pedestrian bridge that spans a drainage way along the Shoreline Trail.

Most of the panels are along the western side of the street as determined by the fact there’s more sound walls along that side. Sound walls were only built where the roadway runs adjacent to residences.

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The first of two panels titled, “The Wake,” which spans the intersection of Main Street and Larner.

The panels were sketched and crafted by well-known D-FW artist Janice Hart Melito.
“Janice was recommended by Jacobs Engineering, who we were working with to come up with ideas for the design of the entire Main Street corridor,” Nelson said. “Jacobs had worked with Janice on another project and we knew we wanted multi-dimensional relief panels. So, we interviewed her and looked at her portfolio. She was super excited and did some initial sketches pretty quickly. We liked the direction she was going and those sketches were used for the final plans.”

The crafting process involves creating a mold for each panel in clay then filling the mold with a kind of silicon. Once it hardens, the silicon mold is pulled out and used to pour the cast-stone (a concrete mix), which retains all the detail of the original sketch.

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The second of two panels titled, “The Wake,” which spans the intersection of Main Street and Larner.

While the beauty and artistry of the finished panels speaks for itself, the Texas Department of Transportation, which managed the overall reconstruction project, had not done anything like this before, Nelson said.

“They’d done artwork before but much larger panels and usually just a single design, nothing detailed or dimensional like these,” Nelson said. “There were a lot of things about this that no one had ever done on a TxDOT wall before. We had a lot of challenges.”

Among the challenges was ensuring they would be lit well enough to stand out at night.
“The original specs for the lights were too high so they were not casting down on the panel properly,” Nelson said. “City staff members had to go out with the electrical contractor, at night, to perform a physical test with a fixture rigged on a small crane that we would move up and down to get the exact right cast of light shining down. We were very particular about how they turned out.”

Nelson said she sometimes meets residents wondering why the detail in the panels is not painted in color.

“We could do that but the way it is now blends into the corridor in a way that doesn’t detract. It’s not in your face,” she said. “But it’s there, you notice it. It turned out the way we wanted, for sure. It’s completely the way we envisioned.”

Please see our photo album on the city website for pictures of all 20 panels.

‘Tell us what you need and we’ll make it happen’

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Community prepares to bask in global golf spotlight

The single biggest event in the city’s history tees off in just a couple weeks. Starting Monday, April 30, and running through Sunday, May 6, the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic is bringing 144 of the world’s best golfers to the Old American Golf Club.

As of this posting, 17 of the circuit’s top 20 players have committed to the event, in which players will be competing for a $1.3 million purse in a four-round, stroke-play tournament. This is the only LPGA event held in Texas and it will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel, meaning the eyes of the world will be on The Colony!

Old American Golf Club

The City of The Colony and the Old American Golf Club will be hosting the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic April 30 to May 6.

The first few days of the event will include various pro-am tournaments, practice rounds, and some private functions. The golfers hit the links in competition starting Thursday morning, May 3. The full schedule of events is available on the tournament website. Tickets are available online at a cost of $15 each per day or $25 each for the whole week. Children under 17 are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Active or retired service members also are free with a valid ID.

Ever since the tournament’s relocation to The Colony was announced in October 2017, city staff members have been working furiously (and in concert with event organizers from Octagon) in preparation. Diane Baxter, Director of Communications & Tourism for the city, said hosting the VOA-LPGA Texas Classic will further put The Colony “on the map.”

“This is huge! It’s the biggest event we’ve ever held in The Colony,” she said. “We have great events that our residents always enjoy, but this will bring in visitors from around the world. That alone is immensely significant and gives people the chance to recognize what a great golf community we are.”

The Colony Convention & Visitors Bureau has been the heavily involved since Day One.

“After the initial excitement of hosting an international event set in, the reality of the exposure and economic impact of this event was realized.” Baxter said.

“Upon meeting with the organizational staff from Octagon, who has tremendous experience hosting successful tournaments, we quickly discovered that together we make a great team. Their guidance and communication has been well received. The event has definitely taken over our focus but it’s been a tremendous learning experience as well.”

Staff at Founders Cup

From left, Mike McCabe, Diane Baxter, Troy Powell, Brant Shallenburger, Joe Perez, and Scott Thompson.

As part of the overall preparation, City Manager Troy Powell, Fire Chief Scott Thompson, Mike McCabe from the Old American, and Baxter visited Phoenix in March to observe the LPGA Founders Cup and see how things work behind the scenes at an LPGA event. “That was quite a privilege to witness the operational side of the tournament, and meeting with city staff members in Phoenix was extremely beneficial,” Baxter said.

City staff members here in The Colony have been equally cooperative. When called to action, the response from every department has been the same: “Tell us what you need and we’ll make it happen,” Baxter said. “That’s been the approach of city staff. Every one of us is behind this. The mindset is to be successful and showcase what a great ‘destination city’ The Colony has become.”

Public Safety officials have been very involved. The Colony Fire and Police departments will both have a presence at the event and have been working closely with the LPGA to prepare for all the emergency contingencies that come with hosting an event of this size and scope.

Customer Service has been processing the many permits required while the Finance Department is monitoring expenses. Public Works is providing barricades and cones for traffic, as well as installing asphalt ramps in the parking areas. The Health Department is coordinating with food vendors and the Information Technology Department is helping provide internet service to the event.

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The views were mountainous in Arizona but they’ll be lakeside in The Colony when the LPGA arrives later this month.

It’s been a true team effort.

“As the event approaches, we continue working hard to prepare so that everyone has a great time here in The Colony,” Baxter said.

Beyond city staff, the entire community has been eager to get involved. Out of 600 volunteers sought by Octagon, 550 have signed up. Information about volunteer opportunities is on the tournament website.

“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” Baxter said. “Everyone is excited and exploring ways to be involved. Local businesses, The Colony Chamber of Commerce, our hotels and restaurants – all are excited about the influx of visitors and the opportunity to show them the hospitality The Colony has to offer.”

With the tournament taking place in their backyard, The Tribute community also has been particularly supportive, added Baxter, in terms of both providing volunteers and coordinating logistics with Octagon. Some residents have opened up their homes for players to stay during the event.

CVB Scavenger Hunt

Participate in the CVB’s Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win tickets to the VOA-LPGA Texas Classic!

For its part, the CVB has been actively promoting the tournament. Thankfully, the department’s staff had recently grown to include a new position and an intern. Banners will soon line the light poles along Main Street; a Scavenger Hunt for ticket prizes is underway; social media posts are keeping followers up to date; blogs are providing more details; print ads are going out; media coverage sought; and more.

The CVB’s Mobile Visitor Center was on hand at the recent Spring Eggstravaganza at Five Star to give away three sets of tickets and will have a prominent presence during the tournament. The CVB is providing the backpacks and lanyards for all the volunteers along with swag, information and recommendations for those new to The Colony.

“We want our residents to encourage their friends and family to come experience this together. Help us promote The Colony. It’s going to be a great time,” Baxter said.

Blazing new trails through The Colony

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City’s hike & bike system continues to take shape

As The Colony grows, so do its hike and bike trails. Some brand new sections have already been designed, funded, and are under construction as you read this. Other sections are in various phases of development. But all are incorporated into the city’s Trails & Bikeways Master Plan and should be moving forward this year and beyond.

Most residents are familiar with the Shoreline Trails along Lewisville Lake at Stewart Creek Park and in The Tribute. The city’s network of bicycle paths helped earn the community an honorable mention recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Cyclists in 2017.

But The Colony’s internal, off-street trail system for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, which has been fragmentary over the years, is starting to come together, too. Eve Morgan, the city’s Park Development Manager, is particularly excited about what’s coming with the Park Loop Trail.

Trail & Bike Master Plan

The city’s existing hike & bike system is extensive, with many opportunities for growth.

When completed, the Park Loop Trail will, in fact, form a loop starting in the northeast corner at B.B. Owen Elementary School, going south through Taylor Street Park and the Legends subdivision (where portions of the trail already exist) all the way to South Colony Boulevard, where it’ll go west to Greenway Park near Blair Oaks and then turn north all the way through the utility easement to Squires Drive and back over to B.B. Owen.

One day soon, the Park Loop Trail will connect 11 parks and three schools! For now, each piece must be carefully planned and constructed as time and funding allow. This year will see significant portions take root. Two particular sections are already awaiting construction.

The first starts at the corner of B.B. Owen and Taylor Street and comes south to Taylor ballfields, where it’ll go around the side and back of the parking lot then stop at the greenbelt – for now. At that point, the city’s Engineering Department takes over with a drainage project that’ll be underway soon. Part of that work is going to be putting in a pedestrian bridge that spans the drainage corridor.

The second section awaiting construction (albeit a short one) will start at the alley behind Rearn Drive, run parallel to Squires and connect to the existing sidewalk nearby. So why is Morgan so excited?

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The Colony’s Trails & Bikeways Master Plan was compiled with significant input from residents.

“The whole purpose of this part of the project is to get the kids in the neighborhoods south of the greenbelt up to B.B. Owen Elementary safely,” she said. “Now, they have to go through that drainage area or walk all the way around. We need a safe way for them to get across and up to the school. It’s a big part of our overall plan and why we’re prioritizing these sections.”

While full funding and construction have not yet been approved, the design work for an additional phase (Phase IV) of the Park Loop Trail was OK’d by the City Council in January. When Engineering completes the drainage/bridge project, the trail will pick up across the bridge and connect to North Colony Boulevard.

Phase IV also includes the section that starts at Greenway Park and goes north through the electric easement all the way to North Colony. Future plans will fully complete the loop and possibly connect to Frisco’s trail system one day.

Another trail section that has been under construction this year and nearing completion is at Stewart Creek Park. The trail leading into the park is being extended across and along the adjacent roadway to reach the new playground and basketball court. New trees have been planted as well, which will provide a canopy for the trail once they’ve grown in, Morgan said.

Stewart Creek Park trail extension

Work has been underway this year on an extension to the trail leading into Stewart Creek Park. Soon, it’ll go across and along the roadway, connecting to the new playground.

Also funded (but not yet under construction) are linkages where the Park Loop Trail connects with North and South Colony boulevards. The project consists of making openings for bicycles to ride to the slip roads along South Colony and widening the sidewalk to trail-width (10 feet) at the parks where there aren’t slip roads. This is so there will be an east-west corridor for bicycles. On North Colony, there will be an opening made at the slip road to meet at the end of Morningstar.

Lastly, one very important piece to the city’s overall trails plan is the design phase. Schematic designs are in the works for a trail segment that will connect The Cascades development to the Grandscape development utilizing the railway underpass corridor. This phase of design will determine the alignment of the trail.

“There’s lots of pieces to put together to get the alignment worked out, and the design will be in multiple phases,” Morgan said. “But we love the direction we’re headed with this project. The future of hike and bike trails in The Colony is now.”

‘Rediscover Your Library’ set for Feb. 1

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Community invited to browse TCPL’s new offerings, services

As the saying goes, “There’s something for everyone at The Colony Public Library.” Never has that been more true as staff and volunteers gear up for TCPL’s “Rediscover Your Library” event from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.

During the event, the community is invited to stop by the library, located at 6800 Main St., to participate in a variety of fun activities and to see for themselves all the recent enhancements to the facility, including an improved collection, new resources and digital offerings, STEM kits, online classes, and much more.

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Recent enhancements to offerings at The Colony Public Library include a brand new website.

Over the past few years, construction on Main Street has hindered access to the library. Assistant Library Director of Operations Megan Charters said parking became particularly problematic, and students from nearby campuses who used to walk over after school could no longer cross Main Street.

“Our ‘Rediscover’ theme is about inviting everyone to come see what’s been happening during the construction,” Charters said. “Now that Main Street is widened, opened, and safe again, come back to the library and see what we’ve done!”

Those improvements include implementation of a new stock management tool called Collection HQ, which runs statistics on checkouts and holds; helps determine what’s popular and what’s not; and provides data on what other libraries of a similar size are offering in terms of authors and titles.

Collection HQ has been online for two and a half years. With data in hand, staff have been working to clear out old materials that are not being checked out and taking up visual and physical space when patrons are browsing.

“If it hasn’t circulated in four or more years, it’s a candidate for deletion,” Charters said.  “The result is a leaner but more powerful, precise collection of materials tailored specifically to the needs and interests of our community.”

The library also now boasts two new self-checkout stations. There’s one in the front and one in the back in the children’s section for parents and kids. You simply step up to it, scan your card or enter your card number, then scan your materials for checkout. Charters said you can scan about 10-inches worth of materials at one time, rather than scanning each item separately.

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“Rediscover Your Library” will also serve as a farewell event for longtime TCPL Director Joan L. Sveinsson.

“We spent the last year tagging 75,000 items in our collection with RFID tags so they could be scanned by the new system,” she said.

As is the trend in libraries around the country, TCPL has been busy enhancing its digital services as well, including a new website. The library offers downloadable magazines, books, and audiobooks, as well as electronic resources, databases, streaming movies and music, and online classes. A library staff member is always available to help patrons get the most from the new technology.

“A lot of the services also come with apps, so we can show you how to use the apps and access what you need,” Charters said. “We can show people how to download materials to their tablet or smartphone, and we want to educate patrons about other electronic resources and databases that we offer.”

Another new offering are 16 STEM kits. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The kits align with what’s being taught in schools and come in big tote bags for checkout. Each kit has a different topic. For example, one kit is about the human body and comes with a full set of x-rays that can be laid out. The stones-and-minerals kit comes with a microscope. An astronomy kit comes with a telescope. Other topics include engineering, coding, geometry, logic and puzzles, and more.

“They’re not just for kids either,” Charters said. “Adults check them out, too. They’re fun for everybody, especially families, but they’re geared towards elementary aged children.”

TCPL 3D Printer

TCPL’s MakerBot 3D Printer is available for a variety of print jobs – from trinkets to practical applications. Come by “Rediscover Your Library” on Feb. 1 to see the recent additions to TCPL’s makerspace: the new Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutter and the PolyPrinter 3D printer.

Most patrons already know about the library’s MakerBot 3D printer but in recent months they have also added a Silhouette Cameo 3 vinyl cutter and a PolyPrinter 3D printer. All these devices are part of the library’s makerspace for crafts and projects, the use of which will be demonstrated during the upcoming event.

Last but not least, “Rediscover Your Library” will also honor two long-time staff members who are retiring: Library Director Joan L. Sveinsson and Circulation Supervisor Alice Collins. Sveinsson has been with the library more than 30 years.

“Joan has been an amazing mentor,” Charters said. “She’s done so much for the library and the community. She puts 150 percent into everything she does. We appreciate her so much and we’re all going to miss her.”

For more information about “Rediscover” or other library programs and services, visit www.thecolonypl.org or call 972-625-1900.

Urban Wildlife Q&A with TCAS

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Animal Services seeks to educate community

Longtime residents of The Colony are no strangers to urban wildlife. The community boasts miles of shoreline along Lewisville Lake, with plenty of greenspace in between. Many residents in Austin Ranch also live near Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. These conditions create numerous opportunities for humans and wildlife to cross paths.

Fortunately, the City of The Colony boasts a well-prepared and highly-rated Animal Services Division that is here to help educate and assist the community when it comes to addressing urban wildlife issues.

Animal Services Manager Mark Cooper said his office has received numerous calls and emails in recent months from residents concerned about wildlife encounters in The Colony. Here’s his Q&A on the subject:

Q: What is urban wildlife? Here in The Colony, the majority of our wildlife issues consist of bobcats, coyotes and various hawks, owls and falcons. Since we have so much growth and new development within our city, including all the cities surrounding us, this has posed a serious concern for the wildlife being driven out of their natural environment. Our city in particular is a prime location for wildlife, because we have a lot of wooded area along with Lewisville Lake and in Austin Ranch near the nature preserve in Plano.

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Bobcat

Q: What steps can residents take to protect their pets and homes from urban wildlife? The Colony Animal Services, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife, highly encourage people to NOT PANIC if they see a bobcat or coyote. These are two very skittish animals. They will simply run at the sight of humans or the slightest loud noise. If you have pets in your yard, it’s highly encouraged to use tools such as wind chimes around your home, or noise makers found at pet stores. These tools can deter wildlife from your yard. Also, please keep in mind: It is against city ordinance to allow pets to roam freely. If you have small pets, it’s best to be outside and present while they are outside.

Coyote

Coyote

Q: What should residents do if they encounter a bobcat or coyote? If you encounter a bobcat or coyote, again, don’t panic. These animals are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Just make a loud noise, such as clapping and yelling. They may not necessarily run away, but they will not come closer. If the animal does stand its ground and won’t scare off, you may be coming near its den. A protective mother will always stand her ground, but there have been no reports of either bobcats or coyotes attacking a human.

Q: What role does The Colony Animal Services play in managing urban wildlife? TCAS receives reports almost daily from residents pertaining to wildlife. Since there is little we can do to control the population and stop wildlife from coming into our neighborhoods, we simply educate our residents on the truth about bobcats and coyotes. These animals will NOT come into your yard and carry away your small child. In fact, they are very timid and can easily be scared away. Learning the behaviors of these animals is the key to understanding how to coexist with the wildlife population. Fear only makes matters worse.

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The Colony Animal Shelter boasts a 4.8-star rating on Google reviews, and is located at 4720 East Lake Highlands.

Q: What resources are available for residents wishing to learn more about how to co-exist with wildlife in a suburban setting? We often reach out to Texas Parks & Wildlife or the DFW Wildlife Coalition as resources. Both are experts on the matter and list a lot of educational material on their websites (linked above). You may also contact the latter by calling 972-234-WILD.

For more information about urban wildlife in The Colony, visit the city’s website or contact The Colony Animal Services at 972-370-9250. The Animal Shelter is located at 4720 East Lake Highlands Drive.

Three Things to Know This Week (Dec. 11-17)

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TheColonyWheelZoneThe skate park grand reopening is almost here!  Join us at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the new facility adjacent to the Recreation Center (5151 North Colony Blvd.) for the unveiling of The Colony Wheel Zone Bike and Skate Park! Please RSVP to Kathy Neal if you plan to attend, 972-624-3957. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.


redcrosslogoThe City of The Colony is hosting a Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the City Hall Annex Building, 6804 Main St. Visit www.RedCrossBlood.org and use sponsor code “thecolony” to make an appointment. For more information, call the Community Center at 972-624-2246.


IMG_3673aCelebrate the season in your hometown! The Colony Christmas Spectacular Lightshow is underway at Central Fire Station (4900 Blair Oaks Drive) now through Jan. 7, 2018. The FREE lightshow at is choreographed to music and can be seen every evening 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 10:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tune your radio to 99.9FM to enjoy the music. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 972-625-1106.