Smart light poles, self-driving cars, autonomous buses, even facial recognition for dogs are all on the mind of Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.
Thursday’s State of the City, LaRosiliere’s final annual address until the end of his term in August, focused on Plano’s expansion as a digital city.
LaRosiliere told attendees the city has invested $115 million in advancements like roads, sewers, sidewalks, and alleys for 2020.
“Over the next two decades, there will be self-driving cars going around Plano. We have to prepare for that from an infrastructure standpoint,” LaRosiliere said.
The construction plans for Collin Creek Mall’s location served as a focal point of LaRosiliere’s speech. The city plans to use the site to expand Downtown Plano. “Collin Creek will be the catalyst for this to happen,” LaRosiliere said.
According to the mayor, 1,300 housing units are expected to be built in the new hub of Plano.
“So let's say it's 2030 and you live in the Collin Creek project location,” LaRosiliere said. “You are going to get to enjoy eight acres, for our plan, a mile and a half of walking trails, so you might get up one morning and decide to play chess in the park or take a jog on the trails.”
The location is also expected to be home to over one million square-feet of office space, according to LaRosiliere. “Maybe there will be an autonomous bus looping around so you know every five minutes it's going to be at this location to take you to work or to the place of your choice," LaRosiliere said.
LaRosiliere noted the city’s business partnerships, which included an app using software to find lost dogs. The software is being used at Plano’s animal shelter to help owners find their pets.
"The era of innovation is already here. In 2019 Plano was named one of the top five digital cities in America,” LaRosiliere said. “And that's because we're doing some of those things already."
Among the talk of expansions and innovations, LaRosiliere circled back to the goal of keeping Plano’s values the same.
Pointing to a photo of a newspaper headline that read “New mayor wants city to stay the same,” LaRosiliere told the audience to not fear the city’s changes.
“I wanted Plano at the end of my first term to be the same city that it was in when I came at 1994, (the) same city that others came in early before me because we're true to the values that matter,” LaRosiliere said.
“We're going to evolve, we're going to look different, we're going to have a different feel to us, but we're still the same city," he added.