I am a member of Brouston (BrooWaha Houston) but call Dallas home. Unfortunately, there is not yet a Brallas or BrooWallas or DallaWaha (BrooWaha and Dallas are hard to "smashup"). More accurately McKinney, TX, northeast of Dallas, TX, is my home and I love it from its potential hockey rink (in Texas?) down to its old brick roadway that surrounds the old Courthouse where new plays are performed. I love that my city is big enough to attract business, hotels, bars, and a graduate program; yet small enough to boast quiet nights (away from the bars), minimal traffic, and only two starbucks. But alas, I am wary of the day when my lovable, effervescent wonderland will indeed turn into just another form of the stodgy, abominate concrete jungle that is the DFW Metroplex.
I was not raised in McKinney, TX. I did not even attend High School in McKinney, TX. I did attend Kindergarten in McKinney but that hardly qualifies me as a lifer or even a half-lifer. I was raised in the surrounding areas of McKinney and went to schools outside McKinney's city limits. But McKinney was were everyone went to "get out of town" and "have a good time". McKinney had the movie theater, the good restaurants, a few plays, and the old courthouse where the biggest christmas tree in the area was erected every year. So I naturally migrated to the "hip" city as soon as I was able, and I have loved every minute of it.
This past weekend my friends and I hung out at a place called Cadillac Pizza Pub. A local band was playing there and although it was not our taste of music the band was good enough to listen to, eat pizza in front of and drink beer around. The place closed at 1a just like most other places in McKinney. The Puritans would have loved parts of my city. There are even sections of the city where restaurants are forced to close at 11p on a Saturday night. That is not the part of my city I love. But I digress. So there we were, outside Cadillac at about 12:30a wondering what we should do. Noone came up with a good idea so we plopped down on the sidewalk, commenced talking, and finished a pack of cigarettes. We didn't leave the sidewalk until half the group began falling asleep. The owners of the joint, locked up at 2a, and jumped from shock at see loiterers still loitering.
"What in the world are you guys still doing here?"
"Waiting until you leave so we can rob the place."
"Go ahead; all that is left is beer and pizza."
Laughter commenced, a new pack of cigarettes was opened, and I froze in terror. Well, not real terror. An axe murder was not around the corner. A rapist was not eyeing my girlfriend. The cops were not arresting my friend for relieving himself on the wall. But a frightening feeling, nonetheless, came over me. This laid back atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie is doomed to end. How long will such gleeful bliss last? When will such openness and happiness end? The terror did not arise because I realized we were all in our mid-twenties and would soon have families. I was not afraid of our "clic" growing up and drifting apart. No. I knew and know my beloved city will fatefully one day become just another city full of enterprise and suits. We will be harried by police for being on the town square so late. We will not know the owners of the local pub. Starbucks will flourish as if a $5 cup of coffee could cure the common cold. Our current culture will in the very least be threatened if not destabilized. Growth and change are not only inevitable in my city but their pace is quickening, and they almost always bring either a death of culture or a new culture the current citizens will not want to endure. The very nature of McKinney I was attracted to and still cling to is the very nature that I am afraid will cause the downfall. Unfortunately, I am not the only person to have fallen in love with McKinney.
McKinney ranks at the top of the growth chart from 2000 to 2006 for cities in the United States with populations over 100,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. During these six years, McKinney grew by 97.6 percent. Second place city Gilbert, Ariz., by comparison grew 73.9 percent during the same period. The Census Bureau estimates the population of McKinney on April 1, 2000, to be 54,409, compared to 107,530 by July 1, 2006.
The current population is approximately 119,000. WalMart built its "McKinney Experiment" a few years ago. It is a project based on the same principles as any other "green project". The owner of the Dallas Stars hockey team, Tom Hicks, is planning to build a hockey complex in West McKinney and open it by August of 2009. Palladium USA, a premier builder of luxury condos, will open a complex that not only includes housing but a sports training facility (whatever that is), 233 acre private golf facility (I do love golf), and an aerobics center (really?).
McKinney's growth in the past has attracted restaurants and art galleries. It has created a culture and atmosphere and friendship. But what will the future hold?
I understand the need for growth. I know that if my city does not grow, the culture will eventually fade and dissipate anyway. Maybe I should just run for mayor and pass out Marlboros to all who vote for me. In the meantime, my friends and I will continue to stregthen the city's cultural epicenter by hanging out until all hours of the night; welcoming newcomers; introducing ourselves to the shop owners; and supporting the local arts. My hope and prayer is the current and future leaders of my city at least put forth an effort and try to maintain our city's dignity and culture without hawking it to the highest bidder and force into joining the stodgy, abominate concrete jungle that is the DFW Metroplex; let us keep our effervescent culture and fight off the storm of Starbucks. We will do our part, I pray they do theirs.
Sources for my minute amount of facts: