By KAROLYN GEPHART
Construction was a major part of 2018 in Friendswood.
New shopping centers, businesses and a new master planned community, Friendswood Trails, were all begun during the year.
New construction for retail spaces is noticeable throughout the city.
New faces in city places occurred. City Manager Roger Roecker retired and Assistant City Manager Morad Kabiri stepped into the position in April. Kabiri joined the City of Friendswood in 2007 and assisted Roecker since 2012.
A May general election was held to determine mayor, and three council positions. Elected officials included Mayor Mike Foreman, incumbent Steve Rockey in Position 1, Trish Hanks in Position 2, and Robert Griffon in Position 4. Griffon is completing a one year unexpired term due to Foreman leaving to run for mayor.
In the election for board members of the Galveston County Consolidated Drainage District, Marcus Rives was elected for Position 3 and incumbent Harold Whitaker was elected to Position 4.
Friendswood resident Greg Bonnen, MD was re-elected as State Representative in District 24. Interim FISD School Board member Denise Ruiz ran for board Position 2 to complete the term of Matt Robinson who resigned to run for State Board of Education. Ruiz was elected.
Safety in schools was an important part of planning the new school year for 2018-2019. Senator Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, was selected as chairman of a Senate select committee to look at measures for safer schools. In Friendswood ISD, additional staff were added to handle safety measures.
Much time and consideration were given to ideas for downtown improvements. To upgrade the downtown area, several blocks of utility poles were removed. The City of Friendswood hired Lauren Griffith and Associates to come up with ways to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly. Surveys and meetings gathered community input.
The consultants’ potential project results included branded banners, street signs, bike trails, new lighting and landscaping. Sales tax revenue through the Friendswood Downtown Economic Development Corporation and grants are being studied to fund the many areas of improvement.
City council approved the first fee structure for emergency medical services and ambulance services by the city. This will begin in 2019.
The City of Friendswood received $4.4 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and approximately $489,000 from the state for reimbursement for Hurricane Harvey debris removal.
It was an eventful year with Friendswood having many traditional activities for families. These successful events include Fall Haul and Spring Sparkle, the giving away of free trees at City Hall, youth fishing tournament at Centennial Park, the Labor Day Ice Cream Social, Homecoming, Christmas and Fourth of July parades downtown, the third annual Texas Music Fest, Concerts in the Park series, Santa in the Park, Trick or Treating event at Stevenson Park, the Classic Car and Bike Show, and new this year, “Fork and Vine, A Friendswood Harvest” farm to table outdoor event under the stars. Art in the Park, Chalk Walk, several holiday markets, spring garden tour, style shows and the 52nd Heritage Gardeners Christmas Home Tour and Bazaar were held.
A new Monarch Butterfly garden is being created in Stevenson Park. Several new murals were painted in the park this year and some sculptures were donated from a local art group.
As the year ended, Friendswood historian Joycina Baker was given the Key to the City by Mayor Mike Foreman and residents could see the next downtown mural being painted by muralist Adam Socie. The artwork is located on a building behind downtown Chase Bank facing Skyview.
2018 was a good year in Friendswood.