By Karen Daniels
At this year’s assembly, televised live from the Stafford Civic Center, Mayor Scarcella delivered mostly good news in his annual State of the City address. Of the best news, he announced that in 2014 the City of Stafford will be debt free. Not an easy task these days for a lot of cities. Currently, the outstanding principal balance has been reduced to $435,000. Due to the provisions in the bond indenture, however, the debt is not allowed to be paid off early, and the amount will be split between this year and next. Mayor Scarcella said, “With the entire nation captivated and frustrated with the seemingly uncontrollable and rapid escalation of national and other governmental debt, to have any entity significantly decreasing and preparing for the elimination of debt is difficult for many to believe.”
For the second year in a row, Texas Instruments was at the top of the speech. The City of Stafford and T.I. are currently collaborating on a master plan for an enhanced redevelopment of the Stafford site. For many, this area is the gateway to Fort Bend and the real estate has a lot of potential. Texas Instruments provided a press release at the meeting addressing questions about the site. The letter said that six acres of the 192 has “minimal development restrictions due to potential ground water contamination.” Solvents used before 1982 for the manufacturing of semiconductor products dissolved in water under the facility. T.I. states that these solvents “do not pose a potential health risk to buyers, developers, or the public.”
Encouraging signs of progress for the City of Stafford was the issuing of $72 million in building permits in 2012. Many commercial properties are building or expanding and will continue to in 2013. New entertainment facilities opening are Apex Cheer Academy and The Main Event, providing activities for families. Commercial entities such as OMB Valve, Puffer Sweiven, and Neway Valve are adding on and improving their properties. “Of special significance,” Mayor Scarcella said, “are the many manufacturing jobs created with these expansions.”
The Regal Ranch deal is on hold. As you know, the City of Stafford was in discussions with Fort Bend County to acquire a portion of the land located on South Main for an entertainment complex. “It was anticipated that by this time the County would have secured all rights to the 30 acres.” Fort Bend County has determined they have “outstanding issues with the tenant of Regal Ranch and are not in a position to move forward in negotiations.”
The smoking ordinance will again be on the general meeting agenda February 6, 2013, at 7:30 pm at City Hall. The Mayor announced that Council has the ability to vote on the ordinance that very night, so if this issue matters to you, please make plans to attend. Council may also choose to put the vote off in order to tweak the ordinance presented from what is heard that night.
Commendations were made to Stafford MSD, Stafford Fire Department, Stafford Police Department, S-METV, and the employees of the City of Stafford. Mayor Pro-Tem, Robert Sorbert, encouraged the community to come to future City Council meetings and “share your thoughts and opinions.” Mayor Scarcella ending the evening by saying that he is “honored and privileged to serve the City of Stafford.”