For the past several years, Denison has used a specific phrase to describe itself: a city of choice. As growth inevitably moves north along the U.S. Highway 75 corridor and the state sees significant migration from other states, many residents are choosing to live not only in Denison but many communities across North Texas.

The mayors of Sherman and Denison recently discussed what made their cities, and Grayson County as a whole, a region and community of choice.

Sherman: A mixture of past & future

Sherman Mayor David Plyler said the city has a lot to offer both current and prospective residents who are considering moving into town. The city boasts lower costs of living than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex while being close enough to still make the commute to the big city, giving the city a mixture of both rural and urban vibes.

“There’s a lot to be said for our ease of living,” Plyler said. “This is a very casual place to live. It’s a fun place to live. There are lots of activities and lots of groups to be involved with.”

With the recent growth, Plyler said he has seen a mixture of residents moving into the city, ranging from those who live and work in the region to those who commute to Dallas and its suburbs.

“I also see people moving to Sherman who work in Southern Oklahoma,” he said.

In recent years Sherman has seen significant growth with not only new housing starts in the city, but new businesses and amenities, especially along the FM 1417 corridor. For the longest time, residents had requested a new bowling alley along with dog parks and a new skate park, Plyler said. The city has been able to bring all of these amenities to the area over the past year. In May, Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille opened its doors, spurring much of the growth along FM 1417 and the city’s southern border.

“To have Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille, not only with a bowling alley but with a movie theater, restaurant, arcade games and rock wall — that’s been something that’s really been missing in Sherman,” Plyler said.

However, growth hasn’t come without opposition and those who are resistant to the changes coming to the city. Plyler said he recently had a conversation with a resident who was afraid of the impact larger developments like the ones taking place along FM 1417 would have on his lifestyle.

Plyler said that changes are coming, but likely won’t have as big of an impact as some believe. With these developments, he said they will likely act as communities within a community and have their own feel without impacting the rest of Sherman.

“At the end of the day, I think (residents) will find that they are going to be their own community with their own lifestyle and their own feel,” Plyler said. “My response is that, yes, there is a lot to how it has always been. But at the same time the growth is going to happen and you really can’t stop it. Yes, it’s coming, but at the end of the day it isn’t going to impact you as negatively as you believe.”

Denison: A part of the greater Texoma community

“Unlike many other communities, Denison respects its past,” said Denison Mayor Janet Gott. “Our history and all of those things related to it are very important to our community. That is why we do so much restoration and preservation.”

Gott said she believes the city honors its present, and knows where it is and where it wants to go. It uses the present to guide its future plans.

Green spaces, she said, are a valuable asset the city intends to continue investing in.

“When we did our comprehensive plan, the top five things people wanted had to do with trails and green spaces,” Gott said. “We’re talking about walking trails, bicycling trails and parks. All of those things are high on our priority list. That is the reason for the Katy Trail, which will eventually connect the entire city.”

Gott said it goes beyond just the Katy trail or even the Texoma Health Foundation Park. The city has invested in improving its 23 city parks, with a focus on neighborhood parks. Gott said millennials especially want unique experiences that include green spaces.

According to Gott, attracting millennials to the city’s downtown area is a motivator for why the redesign will feature so many green spaces and unique dining and shopping options. Although she said it isn’t just millennials that seek more green spaces, it’s something everyone asks for.

“It is going to be where people can go and experience and enjoy those one-of-a-kind experiences that they are looking for,” she said. “It will create a sense of community when you are there. It is intended to be experienced. That is one of the reasons we recruited HeyDay and Urban Air. Families told us they want a place in their own community where they can play and have recreation as a family.”

Gott said the community is fortunate to have a lake in its own backyard. The city has created a variety of things to do and, when coupled with the lake, makes the area more attractive for people to visit. She said the city’s proximity to Sherman has helped foster a sense of expanded community. Gott said Grayson County Judge Bill Magers has taken the lead on getting the various communities to work together to attract people to the area and prepare for that growth.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that when you look at Denison you have to look at the region,” Gott said. “What is good for one of us should be good for all of us. For example, if there is a company that comes into Denison that not only provides jobs for the citizens of Denison, it provides jobs for the citizens of Texoma. That holds true for Sherman as well. We share city limits. We are actually just an extension of one another. Regional thinking is something that has led to a lot of the things that have happened in transportation lately, like the improvement at Spur 503 and at 75 and 82.”

Gott said said the city has a responsibility to its citizens. That is something she said the city of Denison takes very seriously.

“I feel incredibly blessed to live in Denison,” she said. “I do believe we are doing the right things to create that quality of life that is our responsibility. We take that very seriously.”