Plenty of nature

Texas Master Naturalist Carol Hawkins shows some of the plants that will be available at Nature Fest.

Every year, the Rosenberg Development Corp. grants the Texas Master Naturalists $50,000 for improvements to Seabourne Creek Nature Park.

But Mayor Bill Benton, who also serves on the RDC board, was hesitant about giving the all-volunteer group that much money.

At the January RDC meeting, board members took action to provide funding for the Texas Master Naturalist Coastal Prairie Chapter performance agreement for the 2021 fiscal year.

“If every year you’re giving the Naturalists $50,000, is it fair to give them money for the (Seabourne Creek) Nature Center and this?” Benton asked.

“That’s a lot of money for one group. Not trying to justify or vilify. But if you’re going to give one group millions, you’re going to have a lot of groups asking for millions. You’re not obligated to give that $50,000. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying to keep that in mind.

“Now since the RDC is getting more and more on the hook for this nature center, I think giving them an additional $50,000 in a way looks like double dipping for the same group.”

Assistant City Manager Joyce Vasut said the RDC isn’t paying for the Seabourne Creek Nature Center.

Benton said the RDC is on the hook for many obligations, including paying for the Dollar Tree center, a new RDC building and other improvement projects that bring sales tax to the city.

Economic Development Director Jeremy Heath explained that in addition to paying for their annual obligations, the RDC also is paying down debt.

“Our revenue from last year actually did not decrease. It actually increased slightly,” he told the board.

“All of those projects are not over budget.”

Benton asked if there were any membership and service agreements that the RDC could get out of.

RDC president Ted Garcia said no.

“(The Master Naturalists) have always done a pretty good job of helping the RDC,” RDC board member John Herne said.

“If we didn’t have that, (Seabourne Creek) would go back to a rough piece of property that no one took care of. It’s being utilized a lot out there. They’ve done some pretty good improvements with it.”

Master Naturalists restock the lake annually.

Additionally, Master Naturalists landscape, plant and handle irrigation at the park.

The RDC also budgeted a certain amount for each membership and service, which includes $75,000 for Fort Bend County transportation, $20,000 for the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Corp.; $10,000 for the Central Fort Bend Chamber, $8,000 for the Texas Economic Development Council, a statewide economic development marketing association; and $1,500 for the Highway 36A Coalition.

According to city staff, these entities have done a considerable amount of work for Rosenberg.

RDC board member Herb Phelan made a motion to authorize the agreements with the six entities.

The motion was seconded by Herne and passed 5-0. 

Board members Teresa Bailey and Jacob Balderas, who also serves on council, were not present for the meeting.

The Fort Bend Herald incorrectly reported the way the Rosenberg Development Corporation’s board of directors voted to provide funding for the Texas Master Naturalist Coastal Prairie Chapter performance agreement for the 2021 fiscal year. The item passed unanimously 5-0.

Board member Kevin Raines, who serves on the Rosenberg City Council, voted in favor of the item.

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