Ask a city manager: Cedar Park, Texas’s Brenda Eivens
This community in the Austin region may be on the small side, but that hasn’t stopped Eivens and her team from making Cedar Park, Texas, one of the best places to live in the U.S.
On her 24th anniversary as an employee of Cedar Park, Texas, City Manager Brenda Eivens took time to answer a few questions about her position and ongoing projects. Eivens serves as Cedar Park’s chief administrative officer and is responsible for the management of the city’s affairs and day-to-day operations.
In charge of an annual operating budget of more than $120 million and a team of over 425 city employees, Eivens’ task is no small order.
EfficientGov sat down with Eivens to discuss ongoing improvement initiatives.
Are you from Cedar Park originally?
Eivens: I grew up in Georgetown, Texas, also in the Austin region.
What is the city’s population?
Eivens: Within the city limits, it’s over 80,000. However, including our extraterritorial jurisdiction, we’re a community of about 100,000.
How long have you been in your current position?
Eivens: I’ve been city manager for 14 years. I’ve worked for the City of Cedar Park for 24 years – in fact today is my anniversary.
What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced as city manager?
Eivens: First, it was responsibly responding to year after year of fast growth; today, it is ensuring that there is available property to meet the goals for job growth and quality commercial development while being a landlocked city in a highly desirable region.
Additionally, I think we are seeing the political environment and landscape at the local level reaching new levels of divisiveness, impacting the tone of discussions and speed of decision-making.
What are some of your greatest successes?
Eivens: First, I’m proud to have built a talented and collaborative team where people have a high level of passion for what they do and why it matters.
I’ve also worked closely with various councils to turn big ideas and vision into reality.
I worked with a mayor for several years who said that we were the type of city that would do what other cities our size either couldn’t or wouldn’t.”
What sort of projects was the mayor referring to?
Eivens: Well, for starters, we built a large multi-purpose event center to bring hockey and other entertainment to Central Texas. We also led the city’s first major redevelopment efforts in order to create a downtown — a mixed used development incorporating the natural assets of the area to create someplace special.
At the same time, we developed a city that is known as one of the best places in America to raise a family because it is safe and has exceptional amenities and outstanding schools.
What advice can you give other city managers, or those looking to get into the field?
Eivens: While the political landscape can feel rocky, especially now, I believe that our cities deserve passionate, smart and dedicated leaders.
If you have a desire to make a difference, local government continues to be one of the most dynamic environments where you can influence change and progress in your own backyard.”
Don’t overlook opportunities in small and mid-size communities, as they can be great environments to develop your skills and contribute.
Building the Cedar Park of the Future
This year, Eivens and her team are leading varied, ongoing initiatives, from major construction projects to park expansions to marketing campaigns.
According to Eivens, Cedar Park has two transformative projects underway in 2020:
- Bell Boulevard: Cedar Park is repurposing one of the most underused areas of the city into a 40-acre mixed-use development that will serve as a gateway into the community and will encompass new commercial enterprises, public gathering places, residential development, a public park and a new library.
- Indigo Ridge will be a 155-acre mixed-use development anchored by the United States Tennis Association Texas headquarters and a campus with more than 50 courts. Indigo Ridge will also include professional, Class-A office buildings, retail and restaurants along with residential development.
Cedar Park is situated to become the next employment hub in the Austin, Texas, region.
Increasing job opportunities is one of the city council’s top goals,” Eivens said, “and to that end, the city’s economic development efforts are focused on aggressively recruiting targeted industries to expand in and/or relocate to our community.”
“In 2020, we are expanding our parks system by completing phase one of the development of a 200-acre community park,” Eivens noted, “which includes a multipurpose performance pavilion, additional trails, multipurpose fields, fishing piers and kayak launch, playground and a large ‘great lawn.’”
“In 2020, we will launch the ‘I Heart Cedar Park’ campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes a sense of community pride and demonstrates why our residents love where they live while also supporting engagement with the City of Cedar Park. It will be driven by residents, city staff, businesses and visitors, and will feature photos, videos and comments of what makes Cedar Park special,” Eivens explained.
For more info on the innovative happenings of this bustling community, visit CedarParkTexas.gov.