City considers permits on large park events

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By Nicole Jones

An event permit could eventually be required for groups holding large events at Friendswood’s city parks, according to a recent City Council workshop.

The discussion was a result of an increasing number of events creating “excessive use of parks” and damages that affect beautification efforts and funding.

“For the last several years we haven’t received an increase in our operations and maintenance budget,” James Toney, director of Parks and Recreation told City Council on Nov. 4. “We make due with what council gives us, but when you start to have these large events and they start to have destruction in the park, things are breaking, it comes out of our normal maintenance budget, which is not large enough to handle unexpected damages to the park.”

Suggested fees range from $150 to $500 for residents and non-profit groups depending on the size of the event.

The city currently charges family rentals, charging residents a refundable $200 deposit, with non-residents paying $75.

The large event permit process would require a parking plan, event layout, emergency and inclement weather plan, as well as information on how the event will be promoted.

“We don’t want to run every event out of Friendswood,” Councilman John Scott said. “But we have to find a balance where the event holder is covering costs of damages incurred by the event.”

During public comment period, two residents told the council that the fees would make it difficult for nonprofit groups to hold festivals and fundraisers that benefit the city such as the Art in the Park event, a two-day event at Stevenson Park.

“We generate income for the city. All the sales that happen are taxed. We are bringing a lot of people into the city from Houston,” Sarah Peters said.

The park fees work session was held for discussion only and no action was taken. Should the council decide to implement fees, “These would apply to events in the future that are not already scheduled,” City Manager Morad Kabiri said.

Most of the large events that currently take place are at Stevenson Park, Toney said.

“It’s centrally located. It allows for market and for people to have an event and traffic driving by helps that person’s event. It also is one of the largest parks in the area that can accommodate large crowds.”

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