Public hearing on bond referendum reveals early support and a few concerns

By Betsy Dolan 

The Sugar Land City Council got the chance to hear what their constituents think about a proposed $50 million dollar bond referendum expected to be included on the November 5 ballot.

The measure will be presented as three separate options: an outdoor festival site which would include Phase 2 of the Brazos River Park project; a community park in Telfair; and a series of hike and bike trails throughout the city.

The majority of those who spoke at the hearing were excited about the proposed community park in Telfair which would include areas for a variety of international sports such as lacrosse, soccer and cricket as well as tennis courts.

“Eighty percent of tennis is played in public parks not in private clubs,” said Cindy Benson with the U.S. Tennis Association’s Texas section.

The community park plan also calls for a historic prison cemetery to be preserved and recognized. But Sugar Land resident Reginald Moore wants the bond measure to include a museum that calls attention to Sugar Land’s role in the convict lease program.

“I’m trying to get those men acknowledged because they died out there in those fields and there is no recognition and no memorial”, Moore said. “Shame on the city for not being proactive in getting this done.”

Other residents expressed hope that easy access to the Brazos River in Sugar Land would finally be realized.

“(Getting) to the Brazos River for canoeing and kayaking has been difficult because of the high banks,” said Andy Clark with Fort Bend Green and the Boy Scouts. “I am encouraging the council to expand river access at Sugar Land Memorial Park.”

Tim DeRosa, who served on a hike and bike sub-committee, is worried that the language in the hike and bike portion of the bond is too vague. He says the sub-committee was very specific in plotting out which segments needed to be a priority and which ones could wait.

“I’m concerned about the part that says, ‘a system of trails and other improvements'”, DeRosa said. “I want the language improved so voters know what they are paying for and when they will get it.”

Council member Harish Jajoo told the council that he had received some phone calls from residents who were concerned that the current design plan for the festival site did not include restrooms.

Assistant City Manager Karen Daly said the festival committee recommended only what is available in the current lease agreement with the University of Houston.

“Should we be able to add more as we hope to do in different phases of lease agreements, we’d be able to look at the construction of something verticle,” said Daly.

The Sugar Land City Council plans to officially call for the bond measure to be on the November ballot on August 20.

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