Friendswood OKs downtown plan
Friendswood City Council has approved an expansive plan to turn downtown Friendswood into a business and activity hub.
The council on Oct. 1 unanimously approved the final draft of the Downtown District Improvement Plan, which covers cost projections and improvement projects that that would be implemented over several years.
“I think this is a step in the right direction,” City Councilman Carl Gustasfon said. “I understand there are some cost associated with it, but I think to get the continuity and get the demarcations set up and for Friendswood to invest its portion of this … I think this is the logical next step, and I’m very supportive of it.”
The plan includes developing better branding for downtown district business and attractions and addressing traffic issues through measures including intersection improvements. Other parts address steps to cultivate small business, attract more restaurants, improve sidewalks, add bike trails and preserve trees.
Preliminary cost estimates include from $35,000-$85,000 to develop bike routes and from $750,000 to $1 million for intersection improvements.
The city’s contribution to funding would be covered through revenue from 1/8 of a cent of the city’s sales tax rate per $1 spent. That portion was approved for economic development several years ago. The city gets a total of 2 percent of 8.25 percent of the total sales tax rate paid in Friendswood.
Last month, City Council approved the Friendswood Economic Development Corp.’s request to seek grant money from other sources to use on downtown projects.
While the plan is divided into sections and timelines with cost estimates attached, funding will determine which projects get pushed to the front of the list, and any expense issues will come back before council to be discussed, said Karen Capps, the city’s economic development coordinator.
The Friendswood Economic Development Corp. gave approval for the plan on Sept. 11.
Said City Councilman Steve Rockey: “I’m pleased to see (the EDC) start to implement it.”
The EDC’s board is scheduled to meet for further discussion at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Friendswood Public Library, 416 S. Friendswood Drive.
In February, the EDC enlisted the services of Lauren Griffith Associates, a Houston landscape architecture firm, to create a downtown improvement plan. A series of meetings and surveys followed, resulting in more than 1,000 responses.
The first draft of the plan was presented in sections over a course of five public meetings.