Breaking ground for the Mayor Vera Calvin Plaza
During the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mayor Vera Calvin Plaza Friday night, Mayor Ken Shetter spoke of the future.
“A one hundred and fifty years from now people will sit here and they will honor this contribution that we have made to the history of this community,” Shetter said of the plaza. “There is a lot that is going to make the plaza special but nothing more so than its name The Mayor Vera Calvin Plaza.”
“When people say Burleson is home, this is the place that they will think about,” Shetter said. “So in short, all of this means that this will be a place where all of us, every citizen of Burleson will know that they belong.”
The namesake of the plaza, former Mayor Vera Calvin sat and listened to Shetter’s words and couldn’t help but smile.
Calvin, the city’s only female mayor, was first appointed mayor in 1988 and was elected mayor serving two two-year terms.
This came after serving on the City Council from 1980-1984 and 1987-1992. She was selected mayor pro tem 1982-1984 and 1987-1988.
Some of the highlights of Calvin’s time serving Burleson included; the 20/20 Comprehensive plan, the purchase of the Burleson Visitors Center and the recycling center. Also during that tenure, the city partnered with the Burleson ISD to start the DARE initiative in the school district and the building of city’s first stand-alone police station.
“I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that Vera is responsible for the professionalization of the city of Burleson government,” Shetter said. “To put it simply after Vera Calvin was elected, government ran more smoothly and more professionally and we have never looked back and we will forever be in Vera’s debt for how she shepherded and stewarded this city.”
Shetter added that even after Calvin left the mayor’s office, she still “continued to contribute to the well-being and lifeblood of this community most recently serving as a member of the Athena Society.”
Calvin and her family first moved to Burleson in 1957. She recalled crying the entire drive from Corsicana to Burleson.
“This was the deadest place I had ever seen,” Calvin quipped. “I never dreamed we would be what we are now. It is a great honor to be here. This plaza is great and it was such an honor to be the mayor of this great city.”
Calvin said she had no idea that she would ever be involved in politics.
But she did talk some of her friends like Jim Bailey into running for City Council.
“Some of them never forgave me for doing that,” she joked.
The Athena Society of Burleson, of which Calvin is a member, and the city gave her a bouquet of flowers as a way of expressing gratitude for all of the ways she had have contributed to the life of this community.
Before Council members, the mayor and Calvin were called upon to break ground, Shetter addressed the fact that the plaza had been designed with the input of literally hundreds of citizens of Burleson during countless hours of town hall meetings.
“I can tell you that this design changed and changed again and changed again based on the input of citizens of Burleson, old and young as diverse as the entire population of Burleson,” Shetter said. “So thanks to everyone who was a part of conceiving, designing and dreaming about this plaza.”
Construction of the plaza should be complete in less than a year according to the city of Burleson’s website.
According to a press release from the city of Burleson: The City began planning the new public space just over three years ago. The site is envisioned as “The Community’s Living Room” and will formally host many of the community events and festivals that residents and visitors have become accustomed to attending in Old Town.
Among other site amenities, the new performance stage will be capable of hosting larger concerts than the City’s current mobile stage, as well as other forms of live performance. Other site amenities will include; public restrooms, shade pavilions, great lawn, children’s area with small play trolley, activity lawn with games, courtyard, moveable tables and chairs. Both historically restored trolley rail cars will be removed during construction but will return to the site as a focal point in the new Plaza