League City leaders reflect on COVID-19 during State of the City

While city officials touched on drainage and flooding during the 2021 State of the City held Jan. 29, a lot of the discussion concentrated on League City surviving and even thriving as a result of the pandemic. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
While city officials touched on drainage and flooding during the 2021 State of the City held Jan. 29, a lot of the discussion concentrated on League City surviving and even thriving as a result of the pandemic. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

While city officials touched on drainage and flooding during the 2021 State of the City held Jan. 29, a lot of the discussion concentrated on League City surviving and even thriving as a result of the pandemic. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

During League City’s 2020 State of the City address, city leaders shared the troubles residents face, such as drainage and flooding, and focused on potential solutions.

Little did they know the city would face a global pandemic just over a month later.

While city officials touched on drainage and flooding during the 2021 State of the City held Jan. 29, a lot of the discussion concentrated on League City surviving and even thriving as a result of the pandemic.

City Manager John Baumgartner said one of the hardest challenges the city faced was when 11 of the 12 fire marshal’s office employees either contracted COVID-19 or was quarantined. Through that experience, the city adapted, Baumgartner said.

For instance, the city began doing fire inspections virtually, he said. To this day, residents can submit comments to be read during the public comment portion of League City City Council meetings—an option that did not exist before COVID-19. City employees work from home, but frontline workers still continue to do their jobs, creating some normalcy, Baumgartner said.


“I’m most proud that we’ve kept city services moving,” he said, noting capital improvement projects have not missed a step.

Mayor Pat Hallisey, who contracted COVID-19 himself in November and spent a month in the hospital, said he admires the resiliency of residents, who prefer personal responsibility to government mandates. During the pandemic, residents did not crumble or grow too frustrated but instead stayed patient, Hallisey said.

Baumgartner said the vaccine distribution, just like dealing with COVID-19 itself, has created challenges. It is the next step to regain the normalcy the city wants to return to, he said.

One difficulty has been determining how many vaccines the city will be getting. Walter Hall Park has become a vaccination hub, but how many the hub can administer seems to change, as does everything else related to the coronavirus, Baumgartner said.

“There’s no playbook for the pandemic,” he said.

When asked why League City is continuing to grow despite the pandemic, Hallisey said the easy answer is “location.” People want to move to a spot halfway between Houston and Galveston with plenty of attractions around, Hallisey said.

“The southwest side of town is opening up. We’re growing,” he said. “Our future continues to be bright.”

About 200-400 new businesses open in League City annually, and the increasing tax revenue allows the city to consistently lower the property tax rate for residents. It helps when residents shop locally, Hallisey added.

“As long as the people keep coming here, we’re in great shape,” he said.

Sarah Greer Osborne, director of communications and media relations, shared other 2020 League City successes in a video.

League City was named one of the most livable mid-sized cities in the United States. The city refinanced $42 million in debt, saving the city $7 million over 12 years, she said.

League Park and the surrounding historic area got a face-lift, which made up one of the many capital projects totaling $60 million done in the city in 2020. Other projects include a new fire station, animal shelter and public works operation center, Osborne said.

The city added 10,000 feet of hike and bike trails and improved existing sidewalks and streets, all on schedule. The League City Emergency Turnaround Task Force helped bring awareness to local businesses while keeping people safe during the pandemic, Osborne said.

Seven local drainage projects will begin in 2021, and an 18-month study on local watersheds is wrapping up soon, meaning regional drainage projects are not far behind, she said.

“By working together, we can remain League City strong,” Osborne said.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.