A Look Back at Some of the Top Stories in Arlington in 2020
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on December 31, 2020, December 31, 2020

Top stories of 2020

As we close out 2020, we're looking back at some of the biggest stories that shaped the year. From the community’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic to the opening of the Rangers’ new $1.2 billion ballpark, here are the year's top stories.

Arlington Rises to the Challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic

With the arrival of the new coronavirus came a series of changes and challenges for the Arlington community.

The City of Arlington worked with businesses and nonprofits as well as local, state and national partners on a variety of initiatives designed to protect public health and keep the economy going. These efforts included distributing more than 475,000 in protective face masks, conducting more than 77,000 free drive-thru COVID-19 tests, assisting small businesses apply for millions of dollars in grants and now administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

But even in the face of uncertainty and hard times, there was no shortage of kindness and compassion on display throughout our city.

The community rallied to support restaurants and small businesses through deliveries and curbside pickups, donated face masks and PPE to essential workers in need, participated in blood drives and food drives, and made gifts large and small to front-line workers, local nonprofits working tirelessly to help those suffering during the pandemic. The community’s generosity meant that more than $448,000 was raised for Arlington nonprofits during North Texas Giving Tuesday Now and $2 million was raised during North Texas Giving Day.

City Celebrates Opening of The Beacon Recreation Center and the East Library and Recreation Center

The City of Arlington celebrated the opening of two voter-approved public facilities this year – The Beacon Recreation Center and the East Library and Recreation Center.

The Beacon, located at Webb Community Park at 1100 Mansfield Webb Road, offers residents a range of amenities and programming for all ages. Amenities at the 36,000-square-foot facility, which opened in September, include volleyball, pickleball and basketball courts, weight room, fitness studio, indoor track and splash pad.

The East Library and Recreation Center, located at 1817 New York Ave. at Bob Cooke Park, opened in November and is the first-of-its-kind combined library and recreation center for the city. The 47,249-square-foot facility replaced the Hugh Smith Recreation Center and the East Branch Library.

Globe Life Field Opens, Draws Series of High-Profile Events

Though delayed nearly four months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Arlington and Rangers celebrated the opening of the $1.2 billion retractable roof ballpark for the first Rangers’ inaugural season in July. It wasn’t long until a number of high-profile events were announced for the 40,000-seat, climate-controlled venue. These events, which help further the city’s reputation as a national leader in cultural arts, innovation, sports and entertainment, include the 2020 World Series, 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Luminova Holidays, and the Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic in 2021 and 2022.

City Council Creates Unity Council to Create Racial Equity Plan

After six months of research and a series of community conversations, the citizen-led Unity Council is expected to present a proposed racial equity plan to the Arlington City Council in early 2021.

The Arlington City Council made its first appointments in July to the 29-member Unity Council, whose mission is to gather community input, research best practices and recommend strategies that the City of

Arlington could implement to promote and encourage greater equity across our community. The Unity Council’s work to create a racial equity plan is part of the City’s commitment to equality, inclusion and the elimination of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination in its policies and practices.

City Council Approves Expansion of ViaRideshare Transportation Service Citywide

In January, the City’s Via Rideshare service area expanded once again, making affordable, on-demand public transportation accessible to even more residents, employees and visitors. The service area was extended to the southeast city limits to reach destinations that include the Tarrant County College Southeast campus and the Interstate 20 at Park Springs Park and Ride lot.

As part of the budget adoption in September, the City Council approved the expansion of the successful Via rideshare transportation service citywide, thanks largely to a federal grant. That expansion is set to begin in January 2021.

Abram Street, City’s Largest Street Rebuild Project, Completed

In October, Arlington celebrated the completion of the Abram Street Rebuild through Downtown. This section between Cooper and Collins streets was the fourth and final section of the voter-approved $50 million Abram Street Rebuild, which started at the Grand Prairie city limits east of SH 360 in July 2014 and progressed west to Cooper Street over a six-year period. In all, nearly seven miles of one of Arlington’s major thoroughfares and the gateway to the heart of the city was rebuilt as part of the City Council’s priority to Enhance Regional Mobility.

EF2 Tornado in November Causes Damage in East Arlington

On Nov. 25, an EF2 tornado affected some homes, businesses and at least four apartment complexes in Arlington. Most of the damage was concentrated along Mayfield Road and Pioneer Parkway between Bowen Road to the west and State Highway 360 to the east. Several buildings suffered damage, including torn off roofs, partial structural collapses and broken windows. Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported. The City of Arlington worked with Republic Services to help property owners clean up debris as quickly as possible and expedited the review of permits requested for repairs in affected neighborhoods.

Arlington in the National Spotlight

The City of Arlington and its employees are constantly working to make our hometown an even better place to live, learn, work and play. And in 2020, that work did not go unnoticed.

In June, Arlington was awarded Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities Certification at the Gold level, which recognizes cities for using data and evidence in the decision-making process. Arlington is one of eight cities to have ever achieved Certification at the gold level and it is the only city in Texas to have achieved this certification at any level.

The National Association of Town Watch awarded the Arlington Police Department first place in its national awards program that recognizes community and department participation during National Night Out. Additionally, the Arlington Public Library’s World Language Storytime program won the 2020 Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities and the City of Arlington’s Abram Street Rebuild in Downtown was awarded the Texas Chapter of the American Public Works Association 2020 Transportation Project of the Year in the $25 million to $75 million category.

In December, the City's Office of Communication was honored to receive a Lone Star Regional Emmy for the FY2020 Operating Budget Breakdown video, taking the top prize in the Politics/Government – Program/Special/Feature/Segment category. The video, which currently has more than 500,000 views online, uses a trip to the grocery store to explain how the City creates its operating budget.

Thank you for doing your part to make The American Dream City a great place to live, learn, work and play in 2020. And here's to an even better year ahead.

News, Government, Community, Business, Entertainment, Streets, Library, Police, Public Safety, Fire