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Sugar Land State of the City addresses things to come

Sugar Land, 2010’s safest city in Texas, 12th safest city in America, gears up for 2011 and moves towards becoming a destination of entertainment and culture. That was the prevalent message of the city’s state of the city address this month at the Sugar Land Marriott featuring Mayor James Thompson, who was assisted by Allen Bogard, the city manager. They capped off the 2010 accomplishments with the implosion of the Imperial Sugar factory buildings making way for the city’s new future at what will be another destination center in what was called a destination city.

“A new chapter in the city’s history has begun,” said Mayor Thompson, “another year with great promise.” Bogard said that although the city has been dealing with the economic downtown, “2011 will be an adjustment to a new normal.” The city budget shows a three percent reduction in operations and maintenance services and “we believe that will enable us to maintain the balance” between recurring expenses and recurring revenues, said Bogard.

The current fiscal year’s capital improvement program is reported to be the largest in city’s history at $145 million dollars. The city’s total budget is $282.6 million and Bogard predicts 2011 will be a financially successful year that will benefit from lower construction costs.

“We are about to begin construction on our first class triple a caliber baseball stadium, which is our family oriented amenity,” said Mayor Thompson noting that construction is planned to start this March.

The new baseball stadium will be located next to the imperial redevelopment project by Johnson Development.

Mayor Thompson said that Johnson’s latest plan includes a variety of mixed use areas such as single family residential and commercial components, the minor league ballpark, and green space. “We are all working together to ensure the future uses of this land will not only be our expectation, but the community’s expectation. “ The mayor also said that public meetings will be hosted by the Imperial project’s developer and the city will hold public hearings as well for the project’s kick-off projected for mid-May.

This spring Sugar Land is planning to select a partner for an indoor concert venue. The city is hoping to finalize the acquisition of land for this purpose at the intersection of University Boulevard U.S. 59 and expects to execute a development agreement by Spring 2012 with construction to begin early 2012.

The first step of Sugar Land’s arts program was also announced. It will be at Oyster Creek, home to a year long international exhibit by renowned French artist Bernar Venet. Oyster Creek will be transformed into an interactive walking tour with audio guides to accompany a large scale sculpture garden that will be installed. The scheduled unveiling for this month has been postponed and will be announced at a later time.

For public safety and mobility, in 2011 Sugar Land intends to focus on the use of expanding technology and improving the clearance rate and it will initiate a license plate recognition and surveillance in its neighborhoods; also fire station #7 will be opened in the Telfair subdivision without expanding staff. This will be the city’s first LEED certified municipal building and it will better impact operating costs. Long term alternatives for a comprehensive mobility plan are also underway.

Efforts in 2011 will see the beginning of construction of new surface water treatment plant at the intersection of Burney and Voss this year. More than 60 percent of the city’s $145 million capital improvement budget this year is devoted to the plant and its associated infrastructure to reduce reliance on groundwater mandated by the Fort Bend Subsidence District. The treatment plant is projected for completion and functionality in 2013.

The extension of University Boulevard through Riverstone to relieve congestion at the SH 6 and U.S. 59 intersection scheduled to start in Feb. 2011; approximate completion of the $16 million project is two years.

Reconstruction of Dulles Avenue with upgrades budgeted at nearly $16 million are scheduled to begin in the spring and are anticipated to be completed by Winter 2012 resulting in an improved four lane road, curb and gutters with raised medians added between U.S. 90A and Avenue E.

Both University Boulevard and Dulles projects are being accomplished with a significant partnership with Fort Bend County and city officials said they probably would not be possible without the county’s part and support from the county’s mobility improvement program.

Intersection improvements will take place at SH 6, Cartwright and Lexington as a multi city partnership with Stafford and Missouri City.

Access to the city’s first recreational facility; the Imperial Rec Center is scheduled to open in early Spring 2011.

Renovations and improvements will continue for relocation of the adult senior center; construction expected to take nine to 12 months is estimated to be complete by early 2013.

Continuing the park land efforts along the Brazos River corridor will focus along the river at the intersection of U. S. 59 and University Boulevard for designing a large festival site.

Green space has been designated at the Sugar Land Regional Airport in accordance with a 90-day contract for open space for the general public to view aircraft taking off and landing; to be completed in the Spring 2011 and will feature a walking trail and picnic tables located to the south of the hanger complex on SH 6.

New partnerships include the Mayor’s Fitness Council, Sugar Land Heritage Foundation and the Legacy Foundation.

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