“Show Me City” continues strong growth and progress

Photos courtesy of Missouri City. From Parks’ projects to public safety initiatives, the “Show Me” City has implemented many successful citizen programs in 2011. At left, the Edible Arbor Trail is a site for nature lovers to see.

Missouri City has achieved significant successes in 2011 by continuing strong collaborations with citizens, gaining new business partnerships, earning local, state and national distinction for excellence and battling against record breaking drought conditions that brought many challenges to our parks. City Council’s continued policy direction has allowed the momentum begun in 2010 to continue.

Building on Missouri City’s national recognition as one of America’s best places to live, according to Money magazine, and one of the country’s safest communities, 5th safest in Texas, the “Show Me” City continues to garner awards. Missouri City has earned further honors for its excellent fiscal practices and policies. The prestigious gold Leadership Circle Award from the Texas State Comptroller’s Office salutes the City’s transparency in financial, audit and budget reporting to residents. This expansive information is available on the City’s website homepage under Hot Topics.

And for more than 20 years the City Budget and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report continue to be recognized annually by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for their detail on City services and programs and the City’s financial condition.

A strong community connection is vital to the area’s dynamic growth. Citizens played a major role in the decision to purchase the Quail Valley golf property in 2008. And more recently they weighed in on what they wanted for the new Community Center and Golf Pro Shop under construction there. This facility will offer another option for Fort Bend County residents and businesses to host their special occasions. The second floor ballroom will seat 300 and overlook the 18th holes of both the El Dorado and La Quinta golf courses. There also will be smaller rooms available for use. A restaurant will be fully staffed but plans are to have a select list of catering companies for individuals and groups planning large events.

In the past 12 months, the two courses have logged almost 54,000 rounds of golf, and close to 100 golf tournaments.  We thank all of our residents for their support as well as the many others who have enjoyed the two 18-hole courses here. Citizens also shared their opinion on activities they wanted at the new the Tennis and Recreation Center currently being built on Cypress Point Drive. Residents will be pleased with the recreational amenities that will be offered. The new City facilities are scheduled to open in the spring 2012.

On the business front, the City continues to expand its commercial square footage to not only diversify the property tax base but to provide jobs for our citizens.

The Lakeview Business Park and the Beltway Crossing Complex, both off the Sam Houston Tollway, are attractive locations for nationally- and internationally-respected companies. Coupled with business growth elsewhere in the City, 800 new jobs were created in the past four years and new companies coming to Missouri City will add almost 1,000 more positions when they are fully staffed.

In the past 6 years, our commercial tax base has grown from 15 percent to 24 percent. Contributing to that expansion is Global Geophysical Services on South Gessner Road—the international firm recently celebrated a milestone when company officials rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York City. Another major contributor is Ben E. Keith, one of the largest food purveyors in the nation. Their half-million-square-foot distribution facility currently is under construction on its 82-acre site, with the future opportunity to expand to more than 1 million square feet. Warren Alloy will also move to Lakeview Business Park, joining a respected list of companies already based in the center. State Highway 6 continues to be a popular destination for many shoppers who now can enjoy a new type of movie experience with the Star Cinema Grill. The City’s first hotel, La Quinta Inns & Suites is set to open in early 2012.

The planned expansion of the Fort Bend Toll Road across the city’s eastern boundary to Sienna Plantation should encourage further commercial development. Missouri City has leveraged its capital project dollars through partnerships with other government entities, resulting in improved safety and mobility for motorists:

*The revitalization of two gateways—South Gessner Road and Texas Parkway—increases motorist and pedestrian safety and encourages continued development.   South Gessner from Beltway 8 to Cravens Road was fully replaced, mosaic-tiled City monuments were strategically placed along the roadway and sidewalks were added. Upgrades to Texas Parkway feature a prominent City monument at the intersection of US90A, drainage improvements and the addition of sidewalks. Phase Two on this thoroughfare will add landscape and signage.

*Construction of raised medians on Highway 6 caused initial resident concern but feedback now is that they are pleased with the added safety factor. In addition, six new Dynamic Message Signs along Highway 6 alert motorists to important traffic information and emergency messages.

*The largest project the City has ever undertaken will be operational early in 2012.  The surface water treatment plant project, a partnership among 40 government and private sector groups, who are paying for the facility through user fees, will initially serve Sienna Plantation outside of the city limits of Missouri City. The project meets a mandate for water users to move from ground to surface water incrementally over the next 15 years.

The Show Me City also uses a variety of communications tools to keep the community informed, anchored by the website, www.missouricitytx.gov, Missouri City television, the quarterly citizen newsletter, news releases and the new radio station, 1690 AM.

Key to residents is the City’s ongoing proactive community-based public safety programs. National Night Out each fall allows residents to meet their neighbors, discuss crime prevention measures and talk with their City Council members, the officers who patrol and the firefighters who also protect their neighborhoods. We can credit our low crime rate to police working so closely with citizens to prevent crime. In the past year, the Police Department also won a competitive federal grant for $893,000 that funded four new positions during fiscal year 2011.

In other proactive steps to curb crime in Missouri City, the Police Department is utilizing the newly-formed Burglary and Auto Theft or “BAT” Team that focuses on those crimes.

Since the formation of the BAT Team, auto thefts have decreased 20 percent over the previous year, and auto break-ins have declined 20 percent, with 11 stolen vehicles recovered, 10 auto theft suspects arrested and more than $113,000 in stolen property recovered.

Residents are pleased with the Route 170 direct transit service to The Medical Center, with connections to METRO’s transit system network downtown. In a service survey, 98 percent of riders said they were satisfied with service.

The year also saw the start of METRO Park & Ride bus service for area residents with 98 percent of riders satisfied with the commuting option. Residents are overwhelmingly supportive of the rides that give them access to jobs in the Medical Center and Houston downtown transit points. Plans are under way for the permanent Park and Ride site to be located behind the Fort Bend Town Center located on Highway 6 at the Fort Bend Toll Road.

After years of planning and preparation, the City officially celebrated the grand opening of the Edible Arbor Trail, the first of its kind in the region. Visitors to the trail, just west of Murphy Road, can sample treats created by Mother Nature including Mexican Persimmon, pomegranates and kumquats.

The second phase of Oyster Creek Trail, which will be completed soon, offers a bike/pedestrian trail along Oyster Creek Bayou between Dulles Avenue and Cartwright Road that will allow residents to travel on foot or on bicycle from Mosley Park on Murphy Road to Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land.

Another major milestone for citizens was the grand opening of an historic landmark – the Dew House and DeWalt Heritage Center in Fort Bend County’s Kitty Hollow Park on Highway 6 South. The treasured house ended the year with an old-fashioned Holiday Wassail Program in December.

And Missouri City celebrated the year’s end with the annual Snowfest Festival and the Snowfest Parade. Main attractions were the lighting of a 26-foot tree, the popular Snow Hill, fireworks and a special appearance from Santa.

In 2012, citizens are welcoming a new City Manager, Edward Broussard. He has been city manager since 2005 for Hutto in the Austin area and brings 16 years’ experience in Texas municipal government. Former City Manager Frank Simpson accepted a position in College Station in May.

In the New Year, the economy will continue to control the pace of growth. Missouri City’s physical location in the Houston area coupled with a developer-friendly environment and its growing reputation as a great place to live, should offer continued opportunities for the “Show Me City”.

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