By Sharon Toth
Jason Perez gave his last State of the Community speech as Angleton mayor at the Greater Angleton Chamber of Commerce network luncheon recently.
His voice broke occasionally as the impact of leaving the city after almost six years of service as mayor and 13 years as a councilman hit home.
Perez is leaving due to term limits as the small-town county seat begins to see the effect of progress moving southward on Highway 288.
“A lot is going on this year,” he said.
He addressed residential development first with a chart showing the number of Certificates of Occupancy during the past five years, which means how many homes were built, sold/bought, and residents moved into them. In 2017, the number was 30-plus; then in 2020, there were 40 to 50; and in 2022, “we see a spike,” he noted, as the number jumped to 180 homes.
There are eight subdivisions under construction, and their sizes range from 25 to 700 lots.
Angleton Village Apartments, a new complex built off of Henderson Road, was built with 105 units. The apartments got a federal grant to provide affordable housing, he said. “Affordable housing, not Section 8,” he added, saying they were not built for low-income residents since rent ranges from $1,000 to $1,600 monthly.
Assessed property values have increased in just two years from $1.13 billion in 2020 to $1.43 billion this year.
He gave examples of some of the benefits of growth and extra revenue the city is receiving to include building new streets, sidewalks and parks. Henderson Road is a vital street on the north side that needs improvement, but he said it would take $50 million to make the two-lane road four lanes with ditches and bike lanes running from Highway 35 to Highway 288.
A dozen new businesses opened their doors in town this year, and there are four businesses looking at property now. As businesses see more rooftops going up in Angleton, they see it as an opportunity, he noted.
“We’re seeing the vision of what’s coming, and we’ve got to prepare for the growth,” Perez said. The city is talking with two developers interested in building master-planned communities in town, which is another concept new to Angleton.
Interested national retailers also are calling city hall; its staff is fielding one or two calls weekly.
He acknowledged there has been some resistance to change and spending as the city grows.
“We’re good about that in Angleton - we’ll use something until it doesn’t work any more.”
That includes erecting a new water tower with a new logo on it. He mentioned that the largest crowd the City Council has seen at one of its meetings during his service was controversy over changing the city’s logo.
But change in the form of expansion is likely to continue. Perez pointed to the police department, city hall and the animal shelter, which now houses animals from Clute and Richwood also, as among the structures needing more space.
Perez, a Phillips 66 employee, wrapped up his remarks emotionally, thanking his wife for her sacrifices during his service to the city and calling out a few city hall staffers by name for their help.
The chamber crowd stood up and applauded as Perez left the podium at the event, sponsored by Neal Insurance, for the last time.