SUGAR LAND NOTEBOOK: Sugar Land looks at growth in 2016 and beyond
By S. Barot
For The Star
From the planning of annexations of New Territory and Greatwood, to the addition and completion of parks and trails around the City, Sugar Land is continuing to develop at breakneck speed and is illustrating both growth and connectivity.
Sugar Land will annex both areas between 2017-2020. Primary impact will be in the area of police services and public works like street and sidewalk repair.
City Manager Allen Bogard believes the annexations are beneficial to the annexed citizens as the city already provides some critical city services to the areas – including fire services. They are also included in the City’s Groundwater Reduction Plan.
Sugar Land will give a one-year notice and conduct an in-depth analysis to determine the fiscal implications of the annexations. Bogard said staff is ensuring the annexations have no negative financial impact to the city or current citizens.
The analysis will determine how to incorporate the areas, by estimating the amount of additional resources needed to ensure that the annexation is efficiently completed.
The city designed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) of both areas. The agreement essentially established an obligation in the part of the City to annex prior to the MUDs paying off all of their outstanding debt. New Territory has a provision to not annex until 2017, but there is no such provision for Greatwood.
Bogard said all Greatwood and New Territory residents would be kept informed as conclusions are made.
“There’s a lot of due diligence that will need to be conducted on part of the city and the MUDs and home owners associations before we would be ready to give complete answers to questions,” Bogard said.
Parks and Trails
Sugar Land has made significant progress on the $12.3 million, 52-acre Brazos River Park Phase II project (BRP) and the adjacent 67-acre festival site. The voter-approved development, slated to be complete in fall of 2016, will have open spaces and natural areas that can be used for large group gatherings, field games and other recreational activities. Approximately 75 percent of the project is complete which will include trails.
The BRP trails are part of the City’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan – which encompasses trails across the city. Trails near the T.E. Harman Senior Center are under construction and the City is also funded to develop trails in the First Colony area.
Construction of the Imperial Park Connector Trail began in the summer of 2015. This trail will provide improved access to Imperial Park as well as jogging and walking loops.
State of the City Address
The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce will host the 2016 Sugar Land State of the City with Mayor James Thompson and City Manager Allen Bogard on Friday, January 22.
Bogard plans to highlight are the efforts of the city putting into increasing accountability to both the elected officials and the public relative to things like performance management, efficiency and service delivery, transparency and decision making. Mayor Thompson will be speaking about upcoming economic development projects that will unfold in the coming year. Additionally, he will speak to updates on the Parks Bond Projects as well as finances for the city.
“Overall, I’m very optimistic about the coming year – we have a big election in May where the public will be deciding future leadership of the City at the elected level, and voting on City Charter amendments,” Bogard said. “It’ll be a great year and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the great things that we have to look forward to with the public.”