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Pearland to add 2 sports venues

By Mark A. Quick, Ultimate Pearland, Houston Chronicle | December 30, 2013

Two more sports venues will soon serve the needs of Pearland's growing population and rising demand for youth athletic facilities.

Shadow Creek Ranch Park

Pearland City Council on Nov. 25 approved an interlocal agreement with Brazoria County Municipal Utility District 26 which will bring new playing fields to the Shadow Creek Ranch area. The district will develop the yet unspecified number of fields on land the city owns on Kingsley Drive just north of Shadow Creek Parkway.

"We are a multicultural community. We need a venue that will serve a diverse population," said Fred Weary, a MUD board member. "We have demand for facilities to accommodate cricket, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball."

He said sports organizations and other community groups in the Shadow Creek Ranch area are at a loss for localized venues.

"We've got groups out there, but we are out of space. We have been using Alvin ISD facilities, such as Nolan Ryan Junior High," Weary said.

The school district has been very accommodating, he said, but the MUD board sees the opportunity to meet a genuine community need by developing fields on approximately 5 acres.

Any improvements made to the land will be of a temporary nature, he said, in response to a question from Mayor Tom Reid regarding plans to put in permanent structures.

"This will include basic leveling up of the play surface. The MUD board is working on the details of the work they will need to do to make the space usable," said City Manager Bill Eisen at one of his last meetings before he retired.

The fields will not include lighting and the area to be used is located on land designated as Phase 3 of the overall Shadow Creek Ranch Park project.

"It will probably be several years before the city is prepared to move forward with work there. There is a lot of demand in that area. This is a good arrangement. It will provide fields in the interim until the city is ready to move forward," Eisen said.

The city is leasing the land to the MUD during the interim period. Eisen said under the terms of the lease the MUD will not pay rent to the city but will be responsible for the costs of any improvements it makes and ongoing maintenance.

Weary said the MUD has about $200,000 to allow it to move forward on the project.

In response to council questions, he said specific cost estimates for the work had not been developed. He said the MUD board wanted to make sure that city council approved of the agreement before it went to that additional effort and expense.

Councilman Tony Carbone said the agreement "seems like a good deal." His only reservation was concerns that it could result in a tax increase. Councilman Scott Sherman shared that concern.

Weary indicated the MUD board had no plans to undertake work that would result in a tax-rate increase.

The council voted 3-1 in favor of the agreement. Sherman cast the dissenting vote.

The Shadow Creek Ranch Sports Complex should be out for bid this month. The overall project, said Assistant City Manager Jon Branson, includes four softball fields, four baseball fields, three sand volleyball courts and one soccer field and a pavilion and amphitheatre area.

Max Road complex

Council also voted to accept $700,000 in funds from the Pearland Economic Development Corp. to apply toward underwriting $2.5 million in costs for the first phase of Max Road Sports Complex.

The project would included four soccer fields, along with restrooms, a concession stand and parking.

The land is on Max Road immediately south of Hughes Ranch Road in the southwest corner of that intersection. Plans are for two phases, the second of which will include building out the remaining four fields.

A pre-construction meeting was held the week of Dec. 9 and a specific time frame for construction has yet to be formulated.

Eisen said the first phase is part of the 2007 bond packaged approved by voters. Since no funding is available for the second phase, Eisen said another bond package probably would have to be approved first.

He said city staff approached the EDC about helping make up a $700,000 shortfall which was the result of increases in construction costs since original estimates were formulated in 2007.

"Since then there has been some inflation. Also, during the economic downturn we were getting some favorable construction bids because there were not as many construction projects available. There is now more work, so the bids have increased," Eisen said.

He noted there were also some unanticipated engineering costs as well.

The council voted 3-2 in favor of awarding the construction contract to Construction Masters, general contractors.

Carbone and Sherman dissented. They were concerned about using economic development funds for such a project, though both conceded it was legal to do so.

"I usually think of EDC money as devoted to increasing the tax base," Carbone said.

Reid, who cast the tie-breaking vote, said, "When businesses look at a city, they also look at its amenities."

The council voted unanimously in favor of a second measure, spending $260,000 for lighting for the facility. The field lighting bid was awarded to Iowa-based Musco Sports Lighting. The city realized $39,000 in savings by separating this component from the general contracting bid.