When the United States Census was released, it was a number not on the report that stood out more than anything- “1,288”. As the town hit the 50,000 resident mark last week, that was the percentage increase in population since the year 2000. It is not a typo. Little Elm has increased its population in the last 19 years nearly as many times as it had residents at the turn of century.
From 3,600 permanent and nonpermanent residents combined in 2000, Little Elm has come a long way since then. Located in one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, Little Elm still holds the title of a town, but maybe not for long. The growth, and blank slate, has Town Manager Matt Mueller comparing his job to a “Sims City” video game. We took the streets of Little Elm to see how residents were feeling about this benchmark in the town’s history.
Almost universally, Little Elm residents are talking about traffic dangers in the future. According to residents living along the main thoroughfare, 380, they have already seen too many fatalities.
“I have not lived in the town very long but we have already seen four or five fatalities on 380 since I have been here,” a resident, who chose to remain anonymous, said. “As the city grows, I want to see more traffic lights and reduced speed limits. I want the city to fix the traffic flow and I think we need a greater police presence on the roads. People have died.”
It wasn’t just this resident, who said they have lived in the city for about two years, who shared this belief. 96 percent of new mothers, of the 25 interviewed, stated their biggest concern for the city was traffic accidents and potentially more fatalities. Eduardo Burgos, who has been in Little Elm since 2004, also listed that as his biggest concern.
“Traffic is the biggest thing I have seen change since living here. Parks, bridges, police stations and even the old library. Everything is changing. I would like to see more money coming into Little Elm, instead of Frisco or Plano or McKinney,” Burgos said.
Little Elm is expanding fast and balancing the battle that towns like Celina and others have had to deal with. The pull between small town rural land and the necessity for big city amenities is another large issue on official’s shoulders.
Residents have discussed this and, through our polling, have not come to a distinct conclusion about it either. The polling had 57 percent, out of 30 people asked, saying they wanted the city to avoid adding projects that would move the town to resemble more of a city.
With Little Elm’s growth predicted to continue at least for the next decade, the city’s direction will be molded the officials in office and the people they serve.