To the Editor,

There is much discussion over the proposed Downtown District zoning going on. The well attended meeting presented by the city will attest to that. Still, a lot more is needed before it being implemented. Or not.

Much of it is reactionary hyperbole. Some of it genuine concerns over the respect of people living in historical houses retaining the sanctuary of home that they enjoy now. There is the realistic embracing of our growth on one end and the continual celebration and passionate protection of our past on the other that are the points of contention. In between each is the answer. I hope all involved will seek it out through mutual compromise and civil discussion. Waxahachie is well worth both the effort and the time that discussion will need in order to reach a consensus of common benefit.

Years ago I used to travel up and down 35 and pass through Waxahachie. From that vantage point on the interstate, at that time, what I saw was industrial plants and salvage yards with a nice convention center in between. That was my observation of Waxahachie and I was not impressed. Further north were the developed areas offering franchised foods and strip malls of the growing suburbs that I passed through on my way to Dallas. Yet it seemed that growth, those instruments that support the new housing developments in those towns and the accompanying prosperity had yet to come to Waxahachie.

Fast forward five years. It was then I met and fell in love with a beautiful woman from Waxahachie. Shortly after discovering the charm that lies off the highways, I fell in love with the town where she had lived her whole life. And that love continues to this day, just more in the case of the former. I made it my home and took it to be my hometown.

In the past decade plus some, I have seen it grow. Slowly at first, now more accelerated with passing time. I hear people say "Dont Frisco my Waxahachie". Makes me wonder if people in Frisco worry about becoming Waxahachie. I doubt that very seriously. They're too busy being Frisco. Seems to me, that if our focus as a city is trying not to be something else, we forget who and what we are. We lose our identity. We stop being what we decide to be and become something where our journey together becomes reactionary to another vision and not one of our own.

Growth is coming. That bull is out of pen and heading our way. We will see new retail and business along 287 bypass and up and down 35. That is a given. Like it or not. New houses needing schools and infrastructure will be built. And that area away from Downtown will be an economic driver for our city. But that will not make Waxahachie something entirely new, just different than what we have now.The bull going where he wants.

So the question we are needing to answer is do we let that bull determine our identity? Or do we place a yoke on that bull and use him to help build and grow all of Waxahachie. Do we focus on growing our identity as a place of destination or become just another town you pass on the way to Dallas? Frankly, do we let the bull lay havoc to the gingerbread structures and leave the crepe myrtles trampled underfoot? Downtown being what was, or what is?

By creating a expanded Downtown zone, we can at least control the growth around us while utilizing its momentum to become more Waxahachie than ever. Yet, we are not ready to do that just yet. There are too many details with the proposal needing to be worked out first. Parking for new businesses, utilizing and filling up perennially vacant storefronts around the square. Doing something with the Texas Theater, for crying out loud. And most importantly, insuring those living within the proposed district can still do so without the fear of being pushed or taxed out of their historic family homes.

More citizen input is warranted at this point. I suggest the city hold more town halls. I pray my townsfolk attend and let their voices be heard. But the endgame is worth it. Any problems or concerns will be overcome. Just as they have in the past and will be in the future. Simply because we are Waxahachie. We are not just another developers toy or part of a metro area that will decide our identity. We call our own shots. We will never be another suburb or become someplace else. We are courageously staring reality in the eye and, as much as we hope it could be so, will never be what we once were or will stay as we are now. Because beyond all the building, the inevitable growth that will come, in spite of the many physical changes we will experience, we will always be a place in the heart. That is our identity.

A couple of fellows I know are attributed to saying "Where there is vision, there is hope. I will add where there is hope, there is a future.

"I love Waxahachie and I know you do too." —Mayor Joe Jenkins.

Alan Fox, Waxahachie