Sugar Land – Missouri City Edition

SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 SEPT. 9OCT. 6, 2021 ONLINE AT…

SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION

VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 SEPT. 9OCT. 6, 2021

ONLINE AT

PROGRESS FLOOD BOND Fort Bend County voters passed a ood bond in 2019 that was meant to fund 25 ooding mitigation eorts in 15 areas, including six in the Sugar Land and Missouri City area. About 40% of those are on hold or canceled—mostly due to a lack of external funding. This is a list of

1 Future unclear 1 Complete

1 No projects at this time

1 Paused indenitely 1 Moving forward

EROSION REPAIR, DESILTING

CHANNEL REPAIRS

1 Willow Fork $11.3M 2 Flat Bank Creek* $8.9M 1 1

the original bond items and their allotted bond funds.

6 Jones Creek $11M 7 Ditch H $5M 8 Long Point Creek $4M

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3 Big Creek $6.2M 4 Oyster Creek $1M 5 Cane Island $1M

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9 Bessie’s Creek $6.9M 10 Mustang Bayou $5M

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11 McCrary Road $14M 12 Harlem Road $600K

LONG POINT CREEK

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Fort BendParkway extension to soon break ground

OTHER REPAIRS

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13 Upper Oyster Creek $1.5M 14 Peek Road bridge $800K 15 Freedom Park maintenance building $187K

$82.9M Total bond amount $30.6M Funds used so far

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*THE FLAT BANK CREEK PROJECT CONSISTED OF TWO PARTS: A FLOOD MITIGATION STRUCTURE AND AN EROSION REPAIR PROJECT. THE EROSION REPAIR PROJECT SECURED FUNDING, BUT THE FLOOD MITIGATION STRUCTURE DID NOT. SOURCE: FORT BEND COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

For more info on local projects, see Page 16. i

As more cities embrace public art as a way to reect history and culture, Missouri City approved creating a formal Art in Public Places Program in May. The initiative aims to beautify the city and enhance residents’ quality of life, ocials said. By the endof the year, thenewly formedMissouri CityArts& Culture Commissionwill craft a public art plan—the document CONTINUED ON 19 BY CLAIRE SHOOP Missouri City launches public art programto reect city’s values, improve quality of life

$50K Missouri City’s public art budget in scal year 202122 9 Missouri City Arts & Culture Commission members

CITY & SCHOOLS

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“3Musicians” is a sculpture inMissouri City by David Adickes, whose work includes the SamHouston statue on I45 near Huntsville.

PEOPLE

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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SUGAR LAND – MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMAMY: There are a variety of art installations in Sugar Land and Missouri City. For example, visitors to our Sugar Land oce usually pass a few of the 13 painted trac boxes located along Hwy. 90. This month, we take a look at the dierent public art initiatives throughout the area. We’ve also included some details on Fort Bend ISD’s next superintendent, as well as the reversal of its recent mask mandate. Amy Martinez, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMLAURA: For this month’s issue, I spent time researching the progress of dierent projects that were supposed to be funded in part by the 2019 Fort Bend County ood bond. We have included accountability updates on all of the projects named in the bond, including insights from local ocials on what another major ood event could mean for Fort Bend County. Laura Aebi, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

WHATWE COVER

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BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

TRANSPORTATION &DEVELOPMENT Regular updates on area projects to keep you in the know

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SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

Land. Owned by Benjamin Inyang Essien, the store sells alkaline water, which is high pH, nonacidic water that the store says helps to balance the body’s natural pH, boost the immune system and promote health. In addition to alkaline water, the store carries tea and other wellness products. 832-917-6358. www.facebook.com/sugarlandwatertree 5 MediOak Pharmacy opened at 3129 Hwy. 6, Sugar Land, on July 30. The medical supply store provides prescription and compounding services as well as vaccinations and consultations. The pharmacy also sells over-the-counter medication, diabetes supplies, health care products and gifts. MediOak Pharmacy also offers free delivery. 281-980-9979. www.facebook.com/ medioak-pharmacy-104538621818039 6 iFloors tx was set to open its showroom, located at 3532 Hwy. 6, Sugar Land, on Sept. 6, after press time. The flooring and home improvement store owned by Hazem Elshorbagy and Fadi Tuqan carries flooring samples; kitchen, bathroom and home theater displays; security systems; and smart home technology. The business also offers installation services. 832-267-6213. www.ifloorstx.com 7 Soft-Tex International held a grand opening for its second U.S. manufacturing facility at 1407 Gillingham Lane, Sugar Land, on Aug. 4. Soft-Tex International, a bedding and home comfort products producer, runs warehousing and distribution operations out of the 170,000-square-foot facility in Sugar Land’s business park. The facility will add 150 jobs in 2021 in manufacturing, sales and marketing positions, according to a news release. 800-366-2324. www.soft-tex.com COMING SOON 8 Bounce Bounce Trampoline Park is preparing to open the doors of its Missouri City location in late September or early October. Located at 9710 Hwy. 6, Missouri City, the indoor bounce park will feature wall-to-wall trampolines, trampoline sports courts, a foam pit, a zip line and other activities. Bounce Bounce has one other location in Cypress. 281-246-4460. www.bouncebouncepark.com

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SIENNA PKWY.

NOWOPEN 1 Silom Station , a Thai eatery and coffeehouse, opened Aug. 9 at 222 Hwy. 6, Ste. 500, Sugar Land. Part of The Thai Cottage Group Co., the restaurant serves a breakfast menu from 7-10 a.m. Silom Station’s main menu features salads, soups and appetizers alongside noodle- and rice-based meals as well as curries. The restaurant also has a coffee bar and outdoor seating. 281-340-0707. www.silomstation.com

2 Balanced Foods held a grand opening July 24 for its location at 9101 Sienna Crossing Drive, Ste. 185, Missouri City. Owned by Stephanie and Daryl Deloney, the business offers healthy prepackaged and preportioned meals, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for a single person or the entire family. Menu items include breakfast tacos, creamy chicken Alfredo, Texas barbecue with chicken, and roasted vegetables with tenderloin. 346-318-9517. www.balancedfoods.com

3 The first Houston-area Saladworks location opened in Sugar Land on Aug. 11 at 18802 University Blvd., Ste. 125, according to sibling owners Venus and Shane Allana. Saladworks offers a variety of salads, wraps, bowls, soups and sandwiches. Since the first Saladworks opened in 1986 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the restaurant has expanded to more than 100 franchise locations nationwide. 281-207-6004. www.saladworks.com 4 Water Tree Sugar Land opened June 26 at 11134 Hwy. 6 S., Ste. 202, Sugar


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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY CLAIRE SHOOP

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Balanced Foods

Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas

COURTESY BALANCED FOODS

COURTESY FORT BEND BOYS CHOIR OF TEXAS

9 Rosati’s Authentic Chicago Pizza will open a franchise location at 18802 University Blvd., Sugar Land, in December. The restaurant’s menu will feature a variety of Chicago-style pizzas along with calzones, wings, sandwiches, pasta and salads. Rosati’s will have a sports bar and offer both takeout and delivery. 832-987-1164. www.myrosatis.com 10 Swamp Chicken Mo-City Restaurant & Bar is planning to open in late September at 8035 Hwy. 6, Missouri City. The Cajun-inspired gourmet restaurant, known as the home of boudin-stuffed wings, serves shrimp, crawfish etouffee, chicken and waffles, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. www.myswampchicken.com 11 Happy Crab Cajun Seafood is coming soon to 5418 Hwy. 6, Ste. 210, Missouri City. The restaurant will offer Asian-style Cajun seafood and a full-service bar. Happy Crab is in the process of receiving permits from the city and plans to open in January. www.facebook.com/ happy-crab-110061241361988/ 12 Health Bay Clinic & Wellness will open at 11420 Dairy Ashford Road, Ste. 104, Sugar Land, on Sept. 26. Joseph Isibor, a Texas board-certified family nurse practitioner, will see patients for common conditions, offer preventive medical services and help manage chronic diseases. 913-742-3745. www.healthbayclinicandwellness.com RELOCATIONS 13 Chase is in the process of rebuilding its branch location at 2430 Hwy. 6,

Sugar Land. The bank plans to merge its existing location at that address and the location across the street at 2455 Hwy. 6 into one larger building, according to the company. The new branch is expected to open in early 2022. No jobs will be lost as a result of the merge. 281-269-7306. www.chase.com ANNIVERSARIES 14 The Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas began celebrating its 40th anniversary season Aug. 1. Founded by Artistic Director William R. Adams in 1982, the nonprofit choir teaches boys ages 6-14 about music, leadership and work ethic. Fort Bend Boys Choir has administrative offices at 14A 4411 Bluebonnet Drive, Ste. 103A, Stafford, but holds rehearsals, workshops and auditions at First United Methodist Church-Missouri City at 14B 3900 Lexington Blvd., Missouri City. Prior to the pandemic, the organization had four performing ensembles and 100 members, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut participation by more than half and reduced the number of ensembles to two. The group is holding auditions by appointment as it looks to rebuild its membership. 281-240-3800. www.fbbctx.org 15 WJ Interests LLC , a Sugar Land-based financial advising company, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, according to an Aug. 10 press release. Located at 2333 Town Center Drive, Ste. 100, WJ provides individuals, families and businesses wealth and investment management services. Partners at the business are father and son Bill and Jared Jameson. 281-634-9400. www.wjwealth.com

Existing tenants will remain open during the work, and KM Realty is working to recruit restaurants and retailers to vacant space in the Township Square Shopping Plaza.

RENDERING COURTESY KM REALTY INVESTMENT TRUST, INC.

FEATURED IMPACT RENOVATIONS Missouri City’s Township Square Shopping Plaza will undergo a series of renovations during a redesign spearheaded by KM Realty Investment Trust Inc., according to a news release. With the revitalization, project architect Thomas De Froy plans to balance the original charm of the shopping center with a modern facade and landscaping updates. Township Square is located at the intersection of Hwy. 6 and FM 1092. Planned improvements include softening the existing red brick, adding awnings and canopies, installing new storefront glass, adding a mural to the clock tower, developing sign criteria, expanding outdoor dining areas, upgrading the landscaping and improving the walkability between buildings. “We really want to allow tenants to showcase their identity. Customers, and even employees, are drawn to businesses that can differentiate

themselves, and we want to see tenants express their creativity and succeed,” project broker and developer Steven Stone said in a release. The project’s design is underway, and construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed in early 2022, officials said. “We’ve received great feedback from our tenants,” Stone said in the release. “We really expect the community to really embrace the changes.” 713-690-2700 www.kmrealty.net

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IN THE NEWS 16 Memorial Hermann officials an- nounced three of its 24-hour emergency rooms will close effective Aug. 23 until further notice. This includes the Memorial

Hermann Convenient Care Center at Sien- na , located at 8780 Hwy. 6 Ste. B, Missouri City. Officials recommend residents in need of care find an alternative ER. The other closures are in Kingwood and Spring. www.memorialhermann.org

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SUGAR LAND – MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

September & October events

COMPILED BY CLAIRE SHOOP

autism. $25 (adults), $15 (kids). 281-245-0640. www.hopeforthree.org 16 LEARNABOUT THE HOUSTON CHICANO SQUAD In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month—which runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15—Natalie Garza, a professor in the humanities department at Houston Community College, will give a lecture on Houston’s Chicano Squad. The Chicano Squad was a group of Spanish-speaking Houston police ocers formed in 1979 to work unsolved crimes and homicide cases in the city. 3-4 p.m. Free. Virtual. Registration is required. www.fortbend.lib.tx.us 18 EXPERIENCE GERMAN CULTURE Missouri City invites the community to enjoy traditional German culture at its Oktoberfest celebration. Quail Valley City Centre will be transformed into a beer hall decorated with Oktoberfest pennants and traditional decor. Activities include German music, games, a wiener dog race, a costume contest and beer stein hoisting competition. Local vendors will oer food and beverages. 4-7 p.m. Free (admission). Quail Valley City Centre, 2880 La Quinta Drive, Missouri City. 281-403-8500. www.missouricitytx.gov 30 HEAR FROMHIGHER EDUCATION EXPERTS Leaders of four local institutions of higher education—including Houston Community College Southwest, Texas State Technical College, Wharton County Junior College and the University of Houston at Sugar Land—will meet for the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 State of Higher Education. Sponsorship opportunities are available. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $35 (member), $45 (prospective member). Safari Texas Ranch, 11627 FM 1464, Richmond. 281-491-0800. www.fortbendchamber.com

Brian Graeber, Fort Bend County Fair President (left) with performer Jon Stork (right).

SEPT. 11

SUPPORT SUGAR LAND FIREFIGHTERS SAFARI TEXAS RANCH

LIVE PERFORMANCES FORT BEND COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS 4310 Hwy. 36 S., Rosenberg 281-342-6171 www.fortbendcountyfair.com SEPTEMBER 24 Jake Worthington, 9 p.m. 25 Jon Stork, 9 p.m. 26 La Maa with Solido, 7 p.m. OCTOBER

Local nonprot the Sugar Land Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association will host the inaugural Sugar Land Fireghters’ Ball on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, beneting the re department. 6-11 p.m. $125 (single ticket). Safari Texas Ranch, 11627 FM 1464, Richmond. 832-377-1717. www.slcfaaa.com

SEPTEMBER 04 THROUGH 12

WALK, RUN, STROLL OR ROLL FOR AUTISM Hope For Three Autism Advocates is inviting families, racers, seasoned strollers and wheelchair rollers to participate in its second annual Walk, Run, Stroll or Roll for Autism. Participants are invited to complete a 5K, 3K or 1K anytime and anywhere in the nine-day window while raising funds and awareness for children with

01 Steve Wariner, 9 p.m. 02 Roger Creager, 9 p.m. 03 Johnny Rodriguez, 5 p.m.

All concerts are included in the price of admission. $40 (season pass), $15 (adults at the gate), $14 (adults online), $5 (children ages 6-11), free (children age 5 and under).

Find more or submit Sugar Land and Missouri City events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Fort BendParkway to be extended to Sienna RanchRoad

COMPILED BY RYND MORGAN & CLAIRE SHOOP

EXTENSION BUDGETS

UPCOMING PROJECTS

The extension is set to be completed in multiple phases. The first part of the project will begin construction in mid-September, costing $43.3M.

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The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority will begin construction on an extension of the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road from Sienna Parkway to Sienna Ranch Road following the project’s approval at a Fort Bend County Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 24. The extension will be located in Missouri City, south of Sienna Springs Drive near Pecan Estates, according to FBCTRA officials. The new section of road will be located in land predesignated for it, as it was planned before any houses were built, said Gary Gehbauer, director of programmanagement for BGE Inc., an engineering firm working on the project. Design work for the project began in 2019, according to the FBCTRA. Construction is expected to begin in mid-September and is projected to be

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FM 1092 median installation The Texas Department of Transpor- tation has begun collecting bids for the project to install medians along 5.8 miles of FM 1092—also known as Murphy Road—from Hwy. 59 to Hwy. 6. Construction on the project is expected to begin in the winter. Schematics regarding where medians and their openings will be placed have been changed due to pushback from some Missouri City residents and business owners. Timeline: winter 2021-mid 2022 Cost: $4 million Funding source: TxDOT

$43.3M Current extension

$20.5M Future extension project budget for design only

project budget for both construction and design

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completed by late 2022 or early 2023. According to the FBCTRA, the extension will be four lanes and include a northbound exit ramp and a southbound entrance ramp at Sienna Parkway. It will also include a northbound entrance ramp, a southbound exit ramp and a traffic signal at Sienna Ranch Road. The budget for the extension’s construction and design is $43.3 million, the FBCTRA said. The funding for the project comes from toll

revenue, Gehbauer said. The segment is part of a larger project to extend the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road from where it begins, at US 90 and Chimney Rock Road, across the Brazos River to FM 2759 and up to the Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road. Currently, there is no specific timeline for the remaining phases of the project, however the design of extension to FM 2759 is expected to cost $20.5 million.

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF AUG. 30. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT [email protected]

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SUGAR LAND – MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY&SCHOOLS

News fromMissouri City, Sugar Land & Fort Bend ISD

Sugar Land City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at 2700 Town Center Blvd. N., Sugar Land. Meetings are livestreamed and in person. 281-275-2900. www.sugarlandtx.gov Missouri City City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at 1522 Texas Parkway, Missouri City. Meetings are livestreamed and in person. 281-403-8500. www.missouricitytx.gov Fort Bend County Commissioners Court will meet at 1 p.m. Sept. 14 at 401 Jackson St., Richmond. Meetings are livestreamed and in person. 281-342-3411. www.fortbendcountytx.gov MEETINGSWE COVER MEETING HIGHLIGHTS FORTBENDCOUNTY Commissioners in Fort Bend County approved spending $23 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for 22 new roles during its Aug. 10 meeting. These are temporary positions that will receive one year of funding beginning Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30, 2022. The new positions span the county clerk’s oce, the information technology department, the sheri’s oce and the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services Department. MISSOURI CITY In a 5-1 vote, Missouri City City Council set a maximum tax rate of $0.578035 for scal year 2021-22 during its Aug. 16 meeting. This would be a $0.02 decrease from this year’s tax rate, representing a 3.34% reduction. The proposed budget totals $153.85 million of revenue and transfers in and $157.55 million of expenditures and transfers out. City Council plans on voting to approve the tax rate at their Sept. 20 meeting. SUGAR LAND City Council recognized former Sugar Land City Manager Allen Bogard for receiving a lifetime achievement award for local government management during its Aug. 3 meeting.

ChristieWhitbeck to become Fort Bend ISD’s next superintendent

“We had an exhaustive search,” FBISD trustee JimRice said. “Bryan [ISD] spoke very highly of her work ethic, her integrity and her ability to bring the community together. … I know Dr. Whitbeck from her previous time here. I know she’s going to do an outstanding job for us. So welcome home.” Whitbeck served as deputy superintendent for FBISD for more than three years before taking a superintendent role at BISD in April 2017.

BY LAURA AEBI

Christie Whitbeck

FORT BEND ISD Christie Whitbeck, the superintendent of Bryan ISD, will be Fort Bend ISD’s next superintendent. FBISD’s board of trustees announcedWhitbeck as their lone superintendent nalist during a special-called meeting Aug. 26. While the district could not conrm an exact start date for Whitbeck, she expects to assume the role in October. FBISD’s former Superintendent Charles Dupre announced his planned resignation in November 2020. His last day with FBISD was June 10. Six trustees voted to approve Whitbeck as the nalist with trustee Denetta Williams abstaining.

Board President Dave Rosenthal cited comments from BISD calling Whitbeck an “ally” and a “promise-keeper.” “I am fully committed to a smooth transition, to working with the team, to working with the board to make everything as great as it can be in this very dicult time,” Whitbeck said. “Never in my career… has it been as challenging as it is right now.”

City Council positions, $85.85Mbond on ballot

Fort Bend ISD issues district-widemask mandate reversal

BY CLAIRE SHOOP

MISSOURI CITY In November, Missouri City residents will vote on two contested City Council races and three bond propositions. District A Council Member Cheryl Sterling is the only incumbent member not running for re-election. Reginald Pearson, Monica Riley and Bruce Zaborowski led for her seat. District B Council Member Jerey Boney drew one challenger in Everett Land, while Council Members Anthony Maroulis and Floyd Emery are running unopposed on the November ballot. Voters will also weigh in on three bond propositions with $51.6 million for street, bridge and sidewalk improvements; $11.2 million for public facilities; and $23 million for parks and recreation projects.

BY LAURA AEBI & CLAIRE SHOOP

development. District ocials said FBISD’s legal teamwill continue to monitor the status of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38, which prohibits local governments frommandating masks. Trustees JimRice, Angie Hanan, Shirley Rose-Gilliam and Denetta Williams voted Aug. 23 in favor of requiring masks, while trustees Dave Rosenthal, Judy Dae and Kristen Davison Malone opposed the mask mandate. Maysum Syed, a senior at Travis High School, spoke before the board in favor of a mask mandate during the Aug. 23 meeting. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

FORT BEND ISD After new legal updates, Fort Bend ISD has reversed its mask mandate, ocials said on Aug. 28. FBISD’s board of trustees initially gave approval for Acting Superintendent Diana Sayavedra to issue a mask mandate for students, employees and visitors at FBISD campuses at an Aug. 23 meeting. The reversal comes after statewide temporary restraining orders against an executive order barring mask mandates were no longer in place and enforceable, district ocials said. FBISD said it removed the mandate to align with that legal

G

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13

SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PEOPLE Greg Smith Fast Growth School Coalition executive director The Fast Growth School Coalition in Austin advocates for investment in Texas’ fastest-growing school districts. A fast-growing school district, such as Fort Bend ISD, is defined as a district with enrollment of at least 2,500 students during the previous school year and enrollment growth over the last five years of at least 10%, or a net increase of 3,500 or more students, according to Fast Growth School Coalition. Greg Smith became executive director of the Fast Growth School Coalition in December. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

BY ALLY BOLENDER

WHAT IS A FAST- GROWING DISTRICT? A fast-growing school district is defined by these characteristics: 2,500 students enrolled during the previous school year

plus

10%

enrollment growth over the last five years

or

DID FAST-GROWING DISTRICTS SEE A SLOWDOWN IN ENROLL- MENT OR GROWTH BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC? We do know that across the state there was a slowdown in growth, and we had some kids that did not return to school. The state as a whole saw a decline in enrollment. However, we are anticipating 266,000 students to come back to school. That includes new growth as well as former growth of students that took a gap year. Traditionally, the students that did not show up were in the pre-K or kindergarten area.

HOWDID FAST-GROWTH DISTRICTS EXPERIENCE LEARNING LOSS? There were obviously some

Students that were online did not perform as well as those students who performed in person. [Districts] that had more students attend in person are probably a step ahead of those who had predominantly kids at home and have fewer gaps to make up as a result. HAVE FAST-GROWING DISTRICTS SEEN CHALLENGES IN THE PAST YEARWITHACQUIRING AND MAINTAINING EMPLOYEES? Oh, you bet. I think COVID[-19] has added another variable to retention and so districts have to be creative on how they retain employees. Teachers and

3,500

net increase of students

SOURCE: FAST GROWTH SCHOOL COALITION/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

setbacks with virtual learning, and I do not think that virtual learning was set up for kindergarten through 12th graders to learn six, seven hours a day online. That’s a lot to ask for kids; that’s a lot to ask for parents and certainly a lot to ask for teachers that might be doing hybrid courses. I think there is a lot of unfinished learning to go, despite all the things that we’ve done and that all the districts have done.

staff who were close to retiring, rather than making a lot of changes with virtual learning, checked out. I think if you look across the state, you probably had an above-average [number] of retirees or people that left the profession because of what was expected.

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15

SUGAR LAND – MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

A LOCAL LOOK Six projects from Fort Bend County’s November 2019 flood bond are in the Sugar Land and Missouri City area. Five projects in the area are moving forward— addressing issues like erosion, water detention and sloughing—with bond funds, as well as funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

6

6

BRAZOS RIVER

S L N .

6

OILFIELD R

S. PIN OAK BLVD.

OYSTER CREEK

D

FLAT BANK CREEK

N

N

N

FLAT BANK CREEK

Scope: This project will work to control erosion and stabilize the bank. Timeline: 2019-January 2022 Cost: $10.3 million (projected) Funding sources: 2019 bond and NRCS OYSTER CREEK

LONG POINT CREEK

Scope: This project will repair erosion. Timeline: summer 2020-TBD Cost: Repairs by FEMA between Sienna LID and LID 19 will cost about $1.2M. County repairs will use the remainder of the $2.5M in bonds not used by FEMA. Funding sources: 2019 bond and FEMA

Scope: The project will improve the channel. Timeline: spring 2021-early 2022

Cost: $2 million (projected) Funding source: 2019 bond

SOURCE: FORT BEND COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Many Fort Bend County floodbondprojects left unfunded Officials: ‘It’s not going to be any better’ if the area sees another Hurricane Harvey BY LAURA AEBI

Sugar Land has a $6 million project under construction in the Settlers Way area. It should reduce street ponding and home flooding by adding an additional storm sewer outfall and replacing the existing storm sewer inlets and pipes. Officials said they expect the project to reach completion in September. Additionally, Li said the city has a project in the Chimneystone area under design, which is estimated to cost $16.5 million. It will be funded from the city’s general obligation bond passed in 2020. Shashi Kumar, Missouri City’s director of public works and city engineer, said the city implemented a new flood alert system in July, which was funded in part through a grant from the GLO. The $300,000 system consists of devices that measure rainfall and provide real-time stream- level information. “​[Missouri City City Council] takes drainage seriously,” Kumar said. “This area is flood prone. We’re flat. We have a number of rain challenges.” Kumar said the city is working on designing drainage improvements for the Cangelosi Ditch widening project. It will cost $2 million with nearly half of the funds coming fromGLO funding. Construction is projected to begin next year, Missouri City officials said. Missouri City is also moving forward independently with Willow Waterhole detention improvements. That project is under design with construction estimated to begin in 2022. It aims to expand detention capacity to accommodate watershed growth. It will cost $2.1 million—funded by the city’s capital improvement program. Additionally, the city is working with the Fort Bend County Drainage District to execute the drainage improvements

Funding limbo If the county had been able to secure the external funding to match its $83 million in bond funding, it would have translated to more than $250 million in drainage projects. At this point, however, less than half of the bond funds are being used, Vogler said. One stalled project affecting the Sugar Land and Missouri City area is a $6.25 million flooding mitigation structure at Flat Bank Creek, which was delayed due to lack of funding. That structure would have aimed to prevent flood waters from backing up. While Flat Bank Creek’s flood structure project is stalled, its $2.5 million erosion repair project secured the funding it needed and is moving forward with the bid process. Fort Bend County Drainage District officials said they are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair erosion damage and sloughing. “The banks are starting to slough, which means they’re starting to slide off and just fall in,” Vogler said. “If the bank falls in, the levee at the top is going to have a tendency to fall in or lose stability.” Additionally, Vogler said the county applied for $96 million in funding from the Texas General Land Office in 2020 but learned in May it did not receive any. Moreover, while the bond funds are available now, the funds have an expiration date in 2044. “The bond funds are only good for 25 years,” Vogler said. “If 26 years from now something happens to Oyster Creek, am I still going to be able to get the $1.5 million? I don’t know.” Moreover, the channel repair,

erosion repair and desilting projects weremeant to restore the damage done by Hurricane Harvey—not mitigate future damage, Vogler said. “It’s not going to be any better, and it’s not gonna be any worse,” Vogler said. “It’s going to be the same. So, the bondmoneywas to put things—inmost cases except for evacuation routes—to put things back like they were [before Hurricane Harvey].” While many projects were not able to secure the funding needed to move forward, others were fully funded by thebondor secured fundingelsewhere, such as FEMA or the Natural Resources Conservation Service. TheDitchHproject in the Sugar Land area, as well as the Mustang Bayou and Long Point Creek projects near Missouri City, were funded entirely by the bond—and the county secured external funding to move the Oyster Creek project forward. “We’re always going to continue to monitor,” Vogler said. “Any time there’s grant money out there that’s available, we’d be interested in it.” City efforts While the county continues to work toward securing funding for additional projects, both Missouri City and Sugar Land are working independently to improve their preparation for another major flooding event. Sugar Land’s City Engineer Jessie Li said the city has a long history of investing in drainage improvements. “We have done a lot,” she said. “The city actually spent more than $50 million in drainage improvements in the past eight to 10 years.”

Four years after Hurricane Harvey, 10 of 25 drainage efforts from Fort Bend County’s 2019 flood bond are unfunded or on pause. However, five of the six projects affecting the Sugar Land and Missouri City areas aremoving forward. Flooding was still front of mind for many Fort Bend County residents when voters approved the county’s $83 million flood bond in November 2019— two years after Harvey devastated the area in August 2017. Mark Vogler, the Fort Bend County Drainage District general manager and chief engineer, said most of the paused projects are due to a lack of supplemental funding. He described the county’s bids for grants to use with bond money as “wishful thinking.” “These projects were just so, so massive in cost that the county was saying, ‘We don’t have the funds right now to do this bigger project—but let’s see if we can get a grant, and if we can get a grant, maybe we can move the project forward by percentage of it,’” Vogler said. Despite the delays, some of the bond work is being done in Missouri City through cooperation with city officials. Meanwhile, both Missouri City and Sugar Land officials said they are working on their own drainage mitigation projects.

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

INSURANCE INCREASES

59

MUSTANG BAYOU

90

On Oct. 1, Risk Rating 2.0 will go into effect, increasing flood insurance rates for 77% of National Flood Insurance Program policyholders.

521

99 TOLL

6

“THE NEWMETHODOLOGY WILL FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE THEWAY INSURANCE PREMIUMS ARE CALCULATED ANDMAY INCLUDEMAKING FLOOD INSURANCE MANDATORYFORPROPERTIES PROTECTEDBY LEVEES—EVEN IF THEYARE ACCREDITED.” JESSIE LI, SUGAR LAND CITY ENGINEER

M

59

64,584 Total NFIP policyholders in Fort Bend County

BRAZOS RIVER

6

N

N

at Long Point Creek—which are funded through the 2019 bond. That project aims to improve the channel and create additional easements, officials said. “[We are] not just sitting, but we’re trying to do proactivelymore projects,” Kumar said. Risk Rating 2.0 While city and county officials are working to make improvements to mitigate flooding, Texas residents who Scope: The project will improve erosion control and will include channel repairs. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding sources: 2019 bond and neighboring LIDs DITCH H

insure their properties through the National Flood Insurance Program will soon be subject to a cost increase. FEMA said in April it will be implementing a new methodology to determine a property’s flood risk. Dubbed Risk Rating 2.0, the change will go into effect Oct. 1, increasing flood insurance rates for 77% of NFIP policyholders, FEMA estimated. In Fort Bend County, more than 95% of the 64,584 NFIP policyholders will see a price increase, Sugar Land Scope: This project proposes the construction of a regional detention pond, as well as channel improvements to reduce flooding. Timeline: TBD Total cost: Initial funding will be $5M Funding source: 2019 bond MUSTANG BAYOU

More than 61,000 policyholders (95%) will see an increase.

SOURCES: CITY OF SUGAR LAND, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, CITY OF SUGAR LAND/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

officials said in a news release. Risk Rating 2.0will go into effect Oct. 1 for newflood insurance policyholders and April 1, 2022, for renewed policies. While prices are expected to increase, it is federally mandated that a flood insurance premium cannot go up by more than 18% per year, FEMA said. Additionally, flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect, so any policy bought after Sept. 1 will not qualify for being grandfathered in. Both Sugar Land and Missouri City

have publicly voiced their opposition to the change. “The new methodology will fundamentally change the way insurance premiums are calculated and may include making flood insurance mandatory for properties protected by levees—even if they are accredited,” Li said in an email.

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

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SUGAR LAND – MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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18

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Art across thearea Over the past ve years, the city of Sugar Land has grown its public art program. Now, Missouri City leaders hope to do the same.

commission help us with prioritization of what we’re going to do rst and how we’re going to tackle it.” For one project in Sugar Land, Gray said the city partnered with two national mental health nonprots whose message, “It’s OK to not be OK,” will be displayed on four murals in the city. One mural at Brazos River Park is set to be dedicated on Sept. 8, after press time. Another mural at Memorial Park will be installed sometime in September. The murals will have QR codes that take visitors to free mental health services on the city’s website. “Public art can do so much for a community,” Gray said. Benets of public art Gray said the benets of a city having a public art program are numerous. “Art’s like a ngerprint, and it really makes a place unique,” she said. “It demonstrates that a city values innovation and creativity, and also the quality of life for the people that live in the city.” Sugar Land artist Charles Beyl said he was inspired by the city’s diversity and scenery for his mural “Sugar Land Fun,” located at the Imperial Park Recreation Center. As a children’s book illustrator, he said he hopes his cartoonish mural featuring local landmarks brings happiness to those who see it. “[Public art] really helps to unite the community,” Beyl said. “It gives people a sense of belonging, especially when they can use public art as a sense of, ‘Oh, this is my home. I love seeing this mural; I love seeing this sculpture.’” Both cities said their public art funding comes from hotel occupancy tax revenue, and in Sugar Land, additional funding is from the Sugar Land 4B Corp.—which is sales tax revenue. In scal year 2021-22, Missouri City’s public art budget is set at $50,000, while the city of Sugar Land’s is set at $250,000. “A public art program can be as cost eective or as expensive as you want it to be,” Mangum said. One place Missouri City hopes to add art that celebrates the history of the community is at Freedom Tree Park. A concept plan to develop land near the park includes a place for public art, Mangum said. “We have no idea what it will look like … but we do have a spot for something that will help tell the story of Missouri City,” he said. The value of public art has the potential to have economic eects on a city by bringing in tourists or residents

CONTINUED FROM 1

that will guide the future of art in the city, Parks & Recreation Director Jason Mangum said. “We’re really excited to nd out what they come up with… to see where they decide to focus,” he said. “Is it going to be on public sculptures? Is it going to be on murals? Is it going to be a combination of all of this?” While Missouri City’s public art program is just ramping up, the city of Sugar Land is on year ve of its public art plan that was drafted in 2016, said Suzanne Fernandez Gray, Sugar Land’s cultural arts manager. In the last year, no new art projects were installed in Sugar Land due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cultural arts manager position being vacant for two years, Gray said. However, new arts projects are coming in the next 18 months, said Gray, who has been with the city since January. “The vision for the [public art] plan is to have public art that will beautify Sugar Land, strengthen community gathering places and build the city’s reputation as an arts and culture Missouri City’s public art collection includes three sculptures, a painting and a temporary art exhibit in the Visitors Center. Taft McWhorter was one of two artists behind Missouri City’s “Pursue your Passion” sculpture—a 20-foot-tall piece on Independence Boulevard between FM 1092 and 5th Street. “Art draws people together and creates community and conversations that lead to healthiness,” McWhorter said. “I thinkof art almost likemedicine for the soul.” Mangum said because art is personal, it is something a lot of people have opinions on, which is why it was important to create an arts and culture commission to lead the Art in Public Places Program. Thecommission,whichwas sworn in during the Aug. 2 City Council meeting, is composed of four community representatives, two art professionals and a curator with two open positions for design professionals. In addition to forming the public art plan, Magnum said the committee will decide when new art will be brought to the city. The commission met for the rst time Sept. 1. “We recognize that we can’t do it all at once,” Mangum said. “So, we’re really going to let this newly formed destination,” she said. Growing the program

Sculptures

Murals

Installations

Trac box wraps

5

1092

4

90

6

59

MISSOURI CITY

3

90

1

2

6

99 TOLL

SWEETWATER BLVD.

6

59

SUGAR LAND

N

SOURCES: CITY OF SUGAR LAND, CITY OF MISSOURI CITYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

THE CITY OF SUGAR LAND IS IN THE PROCESS OF EVALUATING ITS ART COLLECTION AND THE PLACEMENT OF SOME PIECES. THIS MAP REFLECTS THE MOST RECENT INFORMATION AVAILABLE.

THE SEEKERS

PURSUE YOUR PASSION

2

1

Twelve artists, including Taft McWhorter, have work in this art exhibition at the Missouri City Community Center.

McWhorter’s 2019 sculpture stands 20-foot-tall and contains positive messaging.

3 SUGAR LAND FUN

ANNETTE WILLIAMSONWISE BRIDGE

4

Located in the Imperial Park Recreation Center, this mural by Charles Beyl is full of Sugar Land landmarks.

Located on Main Street near Hwy. 6, each panel of the bridge shows a dierent part of Sugar Land history.

5 SWEET TRANSFORMATION

CULTIVATE

6

A trac box by Joy Chandler features monarch butteries, which are native to Sugar Land.

Installed in recognition of Sugar Land’s 60th anniversary, Cultivate’s colors represent the city’s agricultural roots.

for events, Mangum said. But he said tourism revenue is not the goal of the program right now. “While that would be a fantastic result of this, that’s not really the intent,” Mangum said. “The intent is making Missouri City a beautiful place to live, a great place to live, and to highlight the unique history and culture of Missouri City through art.”

When it comes to Missouri City’s public art program, Mangum said the possibilities are endless. “We’re at the infancy stages, and we’re excited to see where it’s going,” Mangum said.

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

19

SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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