Gary E. Lindsley

Gary E. Lindsley

Little did I know back in April 2009 I was getting a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come.

Although I had lived in Oklahoma for a spell a few decades ago, I had never made it into Texas.

But 20-some odd years later, my girlfriend and future wife, Karla, and I decided to take a trip in late April 2009 to the Lone Star State to see her brother, Kenny, and son, Tony.

It was already quite warm when we arrived at DFW International Airport, but it was not uncomfortable.

After picking up our rental car, we headed to Kenny’s in Nevada where he has a house on the shores of Lake Lavon.

The bluebonnets were in full bloom and very colorful behind Kenny’s house — spring, a beautiful time of year in Texas.

After dropping off our bags, we headed out in separate cars to pick up some beverages and head over to the bustling city of Rockwall to attend a Thursday night concert on the lake.

I believe it was Farm-To-Market Road 740 that was in the midst of road work. No matter, Tony got us down to The Harbor in Rockwall where we met up with Karla and other relatives to eat at Gloria’s, which has awesome food.

After dining at Gloria’s, we went outside to sit on the grass to listen to that week’s group performing live in the harbor’s amphitheater while boaters listened to the music offshore.

The outside venue was packed, and I was impressed that a community was providing weekly music groups — free of charge.

There were young and old alike enjoying the music, and I thought, “Why could we not have this back in Northeastern Vermont?” Well, for one thing, you need water. And for another, you need progressive, forward thinking leaders who believe in investing in community development — quality of life issues.

That is where so many community leaders throughout the country fall flat. They get the importance of economic development to draw businesses, and thus, tax dollars into the community’s coffers.

However, they just cannot understand — or want to invest — in the concept of if you provide things that are going to draw families, as well as companies, to their communities, their communities will also draw in tax dollars and thrive.

If you give families a reason to move to a community, they will come. It is much more than having restaurants and stores. It is about parks, events and musical series — quality of life issues.

My very first night in Rockwall, Texas, back in April 2009 really impressed me. I thought the community’s leaders really got it — that community development was just as important as economic development.

In contrast, in the 2000s, the Amsterdam Common Council in Upstate New York eliminated the community development portion of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department. The council members believed that community development was too costly and not productive.

Despite their action, the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, Amsterdam Waterfront Commission and countless volunteers made Riverlink Park a reality.

And today, people use the park for events and attending outdoor musical performances while boaters dock at the park’s docks and visit the city’s venues.

And thanks to the forward thinking of Mayor Ann Thane and others, a pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk River and Barge Canal is nearing completion, connecting both sides of the city.

Thankfully, city leaders and residents of Rockwall are on the same page with community development and quality of life.

By the time you read this, Thursday night was the last night of the summer concert series by the lake. But do not despair because the Friday and Saturday night concerts in San Jacinto Plaza continue through September.

I had the pleasure of listening to and shooting pics of Mike & The Mix on July 17. They played a lot of great songs from my younger years and drew a large number of people to the plaza.

People brought chairs, food and beverages to listen to the group rock out.

And what was great about the evening was not only the audience enjoying the music, Mike & The Mix were truly enjoying themselves.

So, check out Friday and Saturday nights in the plaza in downtown Rockwall. Tonight, Jimi Watusi will entertain while Dillon Myers will take the stage on Saturday night.

And do not forget about the Saturday morning farmers’ market in downtown Rockwall.

Yes, Rockwall does it right.

Gary E. Lindsley may be reached at glindsley@heraldbanner.com.

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