NOLANVILLE — The second meeting of the Planning Task Force revealed that many residents want to see the city develop without losing the small-town atmosphere found in cities with fewer than 5,000 residents.
“I want to see small businesses, not large,” resident Marie Reis said at Monday’s meeting. “Big businesses put small people out of business, and I don’t want to see that happen to our town.”
Reis was among 13 residents who met with representatives from Texas A&M University’s Texas Target Cities program to set in motion a comprehensive plan for the city’s development.
“Nolanville is in a transitioning period,” director John Cooper said. “Now is the time to be having these conversations before growth is upon you.”
Under the direction of faculty members, students working toward a master’s degree in landscape architecture and urban planning will spend the fall and spring semesters working with a task force composed of from six to 12 Nolanville residents representing the town’s various demographics to develop the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan.
The plan will be part of the curriculum for two courses, Participatory Planning and Applied Planning.
The program targets cities with a population of fewer than 15,000 that are facing growth pressures without the resources to combat them, program coordinator Jaimie Hicks Masterson said. Nolanville was a prime candidate because projected numbers show its population doubling or quadrupling in size by 2030.
“We were interested because there was no comprehensive plan, but there was a desire for public engagement, which is really encouraging,” Masterson said. “Growth is going to occur. It’s important to guide that growth.”
The representatives recapped data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and presented at July’s meeting, as well as concerns expressed by the nearly 50 residents who attended.
Nolanville has a young population, with 33.6 percent of its residents younger than 18 years old, Masterson said.
The median income of $46,000 is low compared to the rest of the state, Masterson said, and most residents leave the town to work in Temple or Killeen.
Residents attending the July meeting said that in addition to new businesses, they wanted to see more activities and facilities for the community’s youth. They also wanted infrastructure needs and a “disproportionately high” unemployment rate addressed.
“We need revenue to help the city repair itself,” Reis said. “We can’t fix it if there’s no money. Property taxes don’t bring in enough.”
Like many residents, Reis, who moved to Nolanville in 1991, said she left the meeting feeling optimistic about the future of the city she loves.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.
The next meeting is scheduled for late September.