Cracked sidewalks, no grocery store in close proximity to the east side, vacant lots and drainage problems — these are some of the serious infrastructure problems that still plague Temple. Hike-and-bike trails and substantial downtown residential living — these are some of the desired things still absent. However, Temple City Council is determined to rid and address those problems through various projects included in the long-term strategic plan. “What we need to do is raise the standards for all of our communities,” said City Manager Mark Watson. A vision of the best education, jobs and quality of life, and the mission — Choose Temple — serve as the backdrop for the 15- to 20-year “road map for growth.” City Hall’s official policy on quality of life states: “Delivery of services that maintain a community of high standards and desirability.” In other words, it wants to make Temple look better. The city bears the brunt of policy direction and implementation to realize the ambitious goal, while the citizens are largely responsible for taking on and maintaining it. One such responsibility as of late, is the communities’ own enforcement of codes and appearance.
The east side and north side are already designated target areas, with both communities holding volunteer neighborhood cleanups. The area of 57th Street, Avenue R and Avenue T, east toward 31st Street has recently been targeted as well. Behind the scenes, the city’s strategic plan calls for a weaving of partnerships between various city departments, including Planning and Zoning, Utilities, Parks and Leisure Services and the city manager’s office to improve communities’ appearance, standards, safety, amenities, transportation and environmental quality. The Parks and Leisure Services Department will play an integral part in making the city look better, said PALS Director Ken Cicora.