City announces plans for Fussell House as headquarters for city’s Parks and Recreation Department

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 12/14/21

The City of Katy will turn a historic Katy home into the headquarters for its Parks and Recreation Department.

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City announces plans for Fussell House as headquarters for city’s Parks and Recreation Department

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City Administrator Byron Hebert celebrated his birthday Monday by giving a presentation about what will become the city’s new parks and recreation department headquarters.

The Old Fussell House, 5402 Franz Road, will also serve as a parks learning center. Hebert unveiled a logo for the city’s learning center during his presentation.

The house sits on a 1.24-acre plot just east of the Katy Library. The house sits near the Katy City Park, Mary Jo Peckham Park, and the Katy Off-Leash Dog Park.

Last month, the Katy City Council authorized the purchase of the house, and a tractor and trailer that came with it. The city paid $350,000 for the house, and $22,750 for the tractor and trailer. Money for these purchases came from the city’s reserve fund.

Hebert said both the parks director and the parks and recreation coordinator will have their offices in the house. Bedrooms will be converted into offices for those individuals.

Katy resident Sandy Fussell Schmidt, who grew up in the house with her older brother Dwayne, older sister Martha, and younger sister Belva, said the family believed that the house was built in 1918 or 1919 but the family did not build it. The house was on a 15-acre plot in the early 1920s, she said.

Schmidt is among the third of four generations of Fussells who lived in the house. When her parents, Gordon and Blanche, decided to move, Belva bought the property and raised her own family there. Belva oversaw extensive renovations to the house, Schmidt said.

The photo of the house in Hebert’s presentation showed a white picket fence in front of the house. Schmitt said when she was growing up there, there was no such fence. Franz Road in those days was a gravel road in the country. It was a far cry from the paved thoroughfare of today.

“Belva’s idea was that the city could use the property,” Schmitt said.

Schmidt said Belva oversaw the selling of most of the acreage to the city a few years ago, but the city wasn’t in a position to buy the house itself then. Now it has and plans are going forward.

The Fussell family will donate photos and selected memorabilia for display in the largest room of the house. Schmitt said they were looking for a deer mount that once belonged to their father.

Mayor Bill Hastings said Hebert and city staff have been working on this project for the past couple of years. Schmidt praised Hebert for his efforts.

“He loved the idea, obviously,” Schmidt said. “It was something he really wanted to pursue, and were grateful for that.”

The developments come as the department itself has undergone some changes in 2021.

In May, Katy voters approved a $4.2 million bond for city park improvements. These improvements include a hike and bike trail system.

In July, Kevin Browne became the city’s parks and recreation department director. He served as Missouri City recreation superintendent before coming to Katy. In an interview shortly after taking over, Browne said the city would develop a parks and recreation master plan. He said the plan would be an assessment of the city’s programs, parks and facilities. He said it would also serve as a guideline for the future.

In recent weeks, the parks department has held a series of public engagement sessions at the Katy Civic Center to solicit input.

Monday’s meeting was the council’s last of 2021.

City to purchase new pumper

The council authorized a financing agreement with Government Capital Corporation for the purchase of a fire truck, a pumper, for $723,379. Funding for this purchase will be part of the 2022-23 city budget.

The truck will be built by Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis.

Assistant Chief Chad Dismukes said the city would take delivery of the truck in 12-15 months. The current pumper has served for 18 years, he said, and would be decommissioned and used for training exercises.

Other actions taken

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Approved the minutes from the October 11, October 25, November 1, and November 8 council meetings.
  • Approved a $10,000 membership dues payment to the Katy area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Approved a $3,000 membership dues payment to the greater Houston partnership.
  • Approved a $300 membership dues payment to the Texas Downtown Association.
  • Approved street closures for the monthly market days, which run on the third Saturday of each month from March through November.
  • Approved street closures for the 2022 Katy Old Fashioned Christmas Festival, set for December 3, 2022.
  • Approved the Annabelle’s 5K Run/1 Mile Walk Benefit, set for April 2, 2022.
  • Approved the seventh annual Typhoon Texas Kids Triathlon, set for April 23-24, 2022.
  • Approved a $29,300 Convention and Tourism Bureau hotel occupancy tax grant for the Katy Heritage Society.
  • Accepted paving, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water improvements for Cane Island.
  • Authorized a $7,634.60 change order with PRV services for the igloo Road emergency repair project.
  • Authorized three proposals with Costello Engineering and Surveying for engineering services for a regional detention pond expansion in Waller County, improvements for the 10th Street bridge and the Pitts Road storm water pump station.
  • Authorized an amendment to the master development agreement between the Katy Development Authority, the city, and the Katy Boardwalk hotel.
  • Authorized an application for eligibility to the Texas Federal Surplus Property Program.
  • Authorized an interlocal cooperation agreement with the Fort Bend County tax office for collection of taxes in Fort Bend and Waller counties.
  • Authorized two service agreements with Motorola Solutions to provide on-site service and support and to provide software updates and support for fire station alerting systems.
  • Authorized an alarm systems agreement with American Fire Protection Group for the Harris County Public Library at 5414 Franz Road.
  • Passed an ordinance to prohibit parking on the 1800 block of Woodcreek Bend Lane from the intersection at Katy Flewellen Road to Poplar Creek Lane.

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