By Nicole Jones
A strategic plan to take Pearland into the next decade is continuing to develop, though priorities outlined won’t be easy.
Challenges to be addressed include dealing with mobility issues that have been a constant among resident feedback.
“It’s going to be a challenge. I don’t see any low hanging fruit in there,” Mayor Tom Reid said when a draft version of the plan was unveiled before city council Nov. 25. “As we see this develop, we’re going to get more public participation.”
Transportation particularly has been a challenge for the growing city, he said.
“I think it’s something we’ve needed a long time. Pearland has always been a special community,” he said.
A project of the Pearland Economic Development Corp., the plan is being compiled by the firm Market Street, overseen by a volunteer steering committee made up of 24 members from public, private and nonprofit sectors.
The plan calls for advancing planning and construction of priority road projects, advocating for funding for them and finding near and long-term options for transit to major employment centers.
It’s a goal already being pursued in Pearland. After several delays, a park and ride pilot program began over the summer in Shadow Creek Ranch with service to the Texas Medical Center, an oft traveled route by commuters here.
“I don’t know well the bus service is doing; I think the HOV or toll lane that’s going to be put in on 288 may help, but all the feedback that I get is that it’s too costly and they are still sitting in traffic,” Councilman Gary Moore said. “I still think light rail is the way to go — a funding mechanism for that just does not exist.”
Another focus area in the draft plan is pursuing walkable, mixed use districts along with “anchor” projects that would support them, in addition to diversifying Pearland’s mix of housing.
Quality of life and place goals are the most important ingredients in creating a competitive community, Market Street representative Matt DeVeau told the council.
“I like the plan. It’s good for what it is, but was there any discussion in funding in terms of who’s doing all this?” Councilman Tony Carbone asked.
“Even though it’s an EDC led plan and the EDC will have lots of leadership responsibility, it really is a community strategy. We often say it is a team sport,” DeVeau responded. “The business community, organizations like the chamber of commerce, various nonprofits that might have a role. If you talk about infrastructure projects you’re going to be talking about government funds, typically from the state and federal level, trying to leverage those to the furthest extent possible.”
The next step in the plan will be the implementation piece, and Market Street will meet with the steering committee on Dec. 11.