Prosper’s exponential growth has many impacts on the town: The town is building wider roads, adding more schools, restaurants and businesses, and the development of new neighborhoods is discussed on the town council agenda once a month. As Prosper continues to grow, things are changing quickly, but many of the community’s leaders have remained the same.
Assistant Police Chief Gary Mchone, who has been with the Prosper Police Department for 16 years, said 2016 was a successful year for the police department. The department hired new officers, which helps the officers provide an optimum level of service to the community, McHone said. The most notable part of 2016 was the continuous support from the community, he added.
“(The community’s support is) consistent each year, but particularly over the last year with things that have gone on in law enforcement across the country, we were overwhelmed with the level of support we experienced from our community through the year,” McHone said. “National Police Week, Back the Blue — the hashtag, and just on a day to day basis. Quite frankly (the most notable part of 2016 is) that our community shows a lot of support for us.”
The town’s growth is especially apparent in the Prosper Independent School District. PISD enrollment exceeded 10,000 students in 2016 and opened two new elementary schools. Demographers are projecting about 19,000 students enrolled in PISD by 2020, said Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Michael Goddard.
“Prosper ISD student enrollment growth is still one of the fastest in the state, if not the fastest,” Goddard said in an email. “2017 will bring the beginning of Middle School #3, and possibly Elementary #8. Additional capital projects include a new stadium to serve all high schools and a natatorium with High School #2 on the horizon.”
PISD also introduced a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math course at both middle schools. The STEM program provides hands-on real world experiences that are not only engaging, but help to solidify both mathematical and scientific concepts, PISD Communications Specialist Christal Hankey said.
Mayor Ray Smith was elected just shy of six years ago. He has seen Prosper grow and evolve over the years. Smith said the town’s advances in infrastructure in 2016 will benefit the daily lives of all Prosper residents.
“Getting to and from work to their homes is something that’s important,” Smith said. “We’ve had safety concerns about trying to get on (U.S. 380) from Windsong Ranch Parkway turning eastbound. The state has agreed to put in a traffic light there, which is huge for that community.”
Several roadway projects were completed in 2016, including the widening of U.S. 380 and laying concrete on Teel Parkway and Fishtrap Road. The infrastructure of Prosper will continue to grow in the future, Smith said.
“The (North Texas Tollway Authority) put in their five-year plan to put in the bridge over (U.S. 380), so by 2022 we hope to have that completed, and that will be a huge relief for traffic,” Smith said.
Resident safety is a main focus for town officials, Smith said. With the opening and operation of the town’s second fire station, town officials hope to improve safety standards for all Prosper residents. The fire department hosted a dedication ceremony for the second fire station on Dec. 10, 2016. Prosper Fire Chief Ronnie Tucker said fire station No. 2 is a big benefit to the safety of the community.
“Fire station No. 2 was a huge deal for us because building the station is a small part of it,” Tucker said. “You have all the equipment and all the furniture and you have hiring people and getting them trained and on board, and it’s a huge deal and takes a lot of time and effort.”
The fire department is already planning for the prospective needs of the town by acquiring more land for future fire stations. Tucker said the department just attained land off Cook Lane and Prosper Trail for a future station and public safety complex.
As the town continues to grow, the principles on which the town was built remain the same. Public safety and a sense of small-town community remain the focus for town officials and community leaders in 2017.