Fort Bend County Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales made a case for improving infrastructure, including passage of the mobility and parks bond election recently called by Commissioners Court, during a presentation at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce last week.
Morales, a former Rosenberg mayor now in his second term on the court, made a passionate argument for the $713 million mobility and bond referendum which voters will decide on November 7. The combined bond is the largest in the county’s history.
Given the topic of the talk, it was perhaps not surprising that the audience was largely comprised of representatives of civil engineering firms.
Morales said with the expected population growth in Fort Bend (with an estimated 2 million residents by 2040), it’s vital that officials plan to provide the necessary infrastructure and the amenities desired by
“It will improve mobility and safety throughout the county,” especially with projects in his precinct, Morales said of the proposed bond. “We’ve been working on this for almost a year now, and there was a lot of thought put into the projects.”
Morales actually did a bit of horse-trading with his fellow Republican on the court, Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers, in a public meeting in August leading up to the calling of the bond in order to persuade Meyers, well-known for his staunch fiscal conservatism, to support it. Meyers had expressed reluctance because of what he said were disparities in how the bond money would be distributed throughout the county.
“This is meant to address the growing transportation and recreation needs of the county,” he said.
Morales touted the recent opening of the Epicenter, a large multipurpose facility in Rosenberg adjacent to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds. Morales and Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage made up the committee which devised the way the Epicenter would be financed. The facility is a private-public partnership in which the county leases the land to developer, Stonehenge Holdings, which leases the facility back to the county. The county will take ownership of the building in 30 years.
In the upcoming referendum, $153 million is earmarked for parks, both new parks and improvements to existing ones, Morales noted.
Morales told the audience that Fort Bend County held five mobility bond elections between 2000 and 2020.
“I feel like, and I feel like the court has the same sentiment, that we probably need to be looking at this about every three to four years,” he said. It takes about that much time to design projects, acquire the necessary right-of-ways, and relocate utilities, he said.
“By the time we get those ready to go to construction and put shovels in the ground, we’re ready to put more projects in the pipeline,” Morales said.
“Hopefully, the voters will see that the mobility bond is very important for the growth. Because if we don’t (pass the bond), especially in Precinct 1, we will be behind the eight ball,” he said.
A complete list of the 2023 mobility and parks projects in the November election can be found at fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departments/county-services/engineering/mobility-road-projects.