Sugar Land City Council recently approved a contract for the design of a voter-approved lake project at Brazos River Park.
The lake will be designed to accommodate canoeing and kayaking, activities that residents have identified as high priorities through many years of public input. The lake is also expected to accommodate annual dragon boat races, an event that has become a popular tourist attraction at a lake near Fluor Corporation.
The design will include geotechnical investigation, parking, roadway improvements, multi-use trails, a boathouse, landscaping, irrigation and lighting. The completion of the project will provide a connection to Sugar Land Memorial Park, the Festival Site and the city’s network of hike/bike trails.
The work will be coordinated with Fort Bend Levee Improvement District No. 17, the governmental entity responsible for maintaining a nearby levee that provides flood protection. The design of the lake is expected to take 10 months, a schedule dependent on obtaining necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, a standard practice when designing improvements in flood plain areas along a navigable river.
Voters approved bonds totaling $31.5 million on Nov. 5, 2013, to fund two parks projects. The approved propositions included development of 128 acres of new parkland along the Brazos River with an adjacent festival site and a connecting network of nearly 10 miles of hike and bike trails and bridges.
The parkland and the adjacent festival site opened earlier this year. The lake project is the last remaining park project approved by voters. A voter-approved trail project is being designed. The bond election was prompted by a lack of progress and reliable funding for quality of life parks projects that were identified through years of community input.
“Our bond committee members worked diligently,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Chesser. “Their efforts resulted in several propositions that reflected past community priorities and provided clear choices to voters. The election results reaffirm that our residents believe these projects are important to Sugar Land’s quality of life and economic prosperity. The results also demonstrated the public’s continued confidence in the City’s financial stewardship.”
Approval of the two propositions achieved the City’s goal to determine whether property tax was the appropriate funding method for the projects. Sugar Land continues to maintain an extremely low tax rate. Funding quality of life projects with property tax was an important public policy issue for voters.
In preparing for the bond election, the city used a best management practice of gaining input and feedback from a 100-member citizens’ bond committee. The committee prioritized projects, considered phasing opportunities and made funding recommendations.
The $31.5 million approved by voters authorized an increase in the tax rate of up to 3.1 cents to fund the projects. Less than a penny of the increase has been used to date.