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‘Divisive’ proposal for carousel is dead

October 8, 2018

An announcement posted Oct. 4 to Facebook signaled an abrupt halt to a long-debated proposal for a multimillion-dollar carousel project in Stevenson Park.

Notice of the cancellation of efforts for the project were posted to the Facebook page of Brett Banfield, board president for Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association, a civic group dedicated to the beautification and revitalization of the city’s downtown.

“After more than two years of tireless effort from our dedicated volunteers, it is with regret that I announce on behalf of the (association) … that FDFA is canceling the Friendswood Carousel Park project and halting all planning and efforts regarding the Carousel,” read Banfield’s post.

“Unfortunately, the Carousel Park Project has become a far too divisive issue, which has undermined our mission and vision and placed undue burden on those who serve, work and volunteer in this great city.”

City officials on Sept. 10 had discussed a possible memorandum of understanding with the association related to the carousel idea. At that meeting, Mayor Mike Foreman closed discussion on the agenda item by saying more discussion is needed.

Dozens of people responded to Banfield’s Facebook post, some happy, others disappointed.

“In the final analysis, those of us on the board for FDFA decided that the opposition to this idea was just too great and that maybe this project should be set aside,” association board member Lonnie Moffit said in a post. “FDFA is a great organization and will continue to look for ways to improve Friendswood. It was amazing to watch a group of volunteers work on this project with such enthusiasm and dedication. I highly recommend that those who opposed this project get involved in FDFA and help provide a positive vision to Friendswood.”

Resident Philip Ratisseau wrote that he was happy that the association listened to those in the community who did not support the proposal.

“I know that this was a tough decision after all off the work, time and effort the FDFA and supporters put into it,” wrote Ratisseau, who ran an unsuccessful campaign as a City Council candidate for last May election. “We have been saying for a long time that the Citizens opposed to the carousel was way more than just a `small vocal group on social media!’”

He said he looks forward to other efforts by the association.

“I believe we all want our City, Citizens and businesses to thrive, to be a community we all love and are proud to call our hometown!” Ratisseau said.

Plans for the facility had included a large, prominent carousel with hand-crafted horses, a performance stage, possibly a concession stand

Proponents of the carousel had said that the project would not incur any cost to the city and that the construction would be funded solely through donations. But critics countered that there was no clear plan to pay for repairs, upkeep or costs associated with accidents or injuries on the equipment.

“We know that not all ideas will take flight and be given the chance to succeed,” Banfield continued in his Oct. 4 post. “We are truly grateful to those who joined us at the drawing board to foster and implement revitalization ideas and have helped us craft what would have been a stunning piece of artistry, a larger than life addition to Stevenson Park that would have reminded all, that Friendswood is a place focused on family.”

“We will continue to focus our passion and efforts on projects such as the Texas Music Fest, the Downtown Murals, the Scarecrow Contest, the Ice Cream Social and other initiatives yet to be announced,” Banfield wrote.

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