By KAROLYN GEPHART
Hurricane Harvey will be the dominant memory for many in Pearland when they look back on 2017.
Pearland experienced up to 40 inches of rain in areas of the city over the four day period of hurricane damage. The rainfall turned in to a 500-year flood following Clear Creek at Highway 288 in the City and all through Friendswood. Approximately 1,000 homes and 30 businesses were flooded in Pearland.
Volunteers worked long hours alongside home and business owners who experienced damage to return Pearland to normal and the words Pearland Proud and Pearland Strong were visible throughout the city.
Community spirit remained high and patience, kindness, determination and hard work were evident wherever rebuilding was happening.
Communication from the City continuously provided information residents and business owners needed to get them through the recovery period. Yet, many homes have not had all their rebuilding completed at this time.
The year 2017 had begun on a great note with Keep Pearland Beautiful hosting an Arbor Day Tree Giveaway. Native Pecan, Live Oak, Vitex, Desert Willow and Sumac tree seedlings were the 2017 varieties passed out that day.
Snow appeared in Pearland at the 20th annual Winterfest sponsored by the City at Pearland at the Recreation Center and Natatorium. The 14th annual Red Hat Literacy Luncheon was a huge success, as was the 23rd annual Paws in the Park pet and owner fun run.
Renovation began at Tom Reid Library in February right after the improvements at Westside Library which added approximately 4,000 square feet. The Reid expansion totals about 8,000 square feet and includes a children’s area and teen zone along with a computer lab, bookstore and study rooms.
It was in this month that The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality handed down an enforcement order and penalty on the Blue Ridge Landfill after months of investigations of the West Pearland mysterious, noxious odor that residents had reported. Since 2015, Pearland residents had filed more than 2,200 complaints and the TCEQ had conducted 82 investigations.
Keep Pearland Beautiful partnered with a vendor in March to begin providing free curbside textile recycling once a week on the regular recycling collection day.
May city elections resulted in a win for incumbent Gary Moore, a win for David Little and two June run-off elections. Incumbent Mayor Tom Reid won the run-off against his opponent Quentin Wiltz and Woody Owens won the Council seat over Dalia Kasseb.
Dawson High School senior, Mike Floyd make Pearland history becoming the first student elected to the Pearland School District’s Board of Trustees and the youngest serving trustee in its history.
Along with Floyd, incumbent Pam Boegler was re-elected along with incumbent Charles Gooden Jr. who ran unopposed.
Pearland said farewell to Chief of Police JC Doyle and welcomed new Police Chief Johnny Spires who assumed command June 1.
Ground was broken in June on Hwy. 288 toll lanes project that has been projected to generate $2.7 million in its first year. The project is slated for a July 2019 completion date and is expected to alleviate increasing congestion on the main highway.
In July, after two years of the landfill emitting gases that had been the source of the putrid order, the Pearland City Council decided to settle the issue in court. Shadow Creek Ranch homes with backyards facing FM 521 are directing across the street from the landfill area. In July, the number of complaints to the state was over 3,000 and investigations totaled 100.
House Bill 938 appeared in September. Through it, a portion of FM 518 in Pearland was designated as Officer Endy Ekpanya Memorial Highway, honoring a fallen officer who was killed while on duty in 2016. Representative Ed Thompson participated in the ceremonial signing of the bill.
In October, Pearland City Council raised its property tax rate to 68.5 cents per $100 valuation. Council reported this would raise eight percent more revenue than the previous year.
While November brought with it fun, successful activities such as the Veterans Day Walk and Wobble Before You Gobble, it also included annexation ordinances for five areas in the city. Council meetings were attended by many who opposed the annexations which had to be decided before Dec. 1. Not all were annexed but the majority of the properties were.
December brought real snow for a few hours Dec. 8 along with the many holiday events that Pearland enjoys each year. This includes Tour de Lites and the lighting of the Christmas Tree for the City.
While many were affected by Hurricane Harvey and continue to work during recovery, the year 2017 offered many new projects and programs for the city as well as continuing to offer community activities and plans that all are invited to enjoy.