Harris County commissioners approved two interlocal agreements for special event safety and flood control mitigation with the city of Houston during their Nov. 29 meeting.

Members voted 5-0 on a five-page agreement laying out the roles and responsibilities of the city and county at NRG Park events attended by over 6,000 people. According to the agreement, the city and county will meet regularly with the fire marshals and law enforcement of both parties about upcoming events, and there are other stipulations for medical plans, site plans and security plans for those events.

The county had previously launched an investigation in November 2021 of NRG Park’s safety after the Nov. 5 Astroworld Festival, which left 10 people dead. The city and county came together to create a special events task force in February.

Discussion on the agreement was limited during the meeting, but Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia joined Mayor Sylvester Turner at a news conference Nov. 28 and said the agreement will help ensure “nothing will fall through the cracks.”

“While NRG Park is a necessary first step, I expect this agreement to set an example for how the city and the county can collaborate on major events moving forward,” Garcia said.

Garcia said at the Nov. 29 meeting the City Council would be voting on an ordinance to complement the interlocal agreement on Nov. 30.

Flood control partnership

In a split 3-2 vote, commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Houston for 24 flood mitigation projects as part of the county’s $2.5 billion 2018 flood bond. The projects are on city-owned property and have an estimated cost of $39.45 million, with the city and the Harris County Flood Control District splitting the bill 50-50.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle opposed the agreement, with Ramsey expressing concerns that his precinct lost a project through the discussion process with the city, while Garcia gained a project in his precinct. Both Ramsey and Garcia acknowledged they played no part in that decision.

“There are now residents in Precinct 3 that won’t be served, that the plan was to serve them ... and as you look at this from a county perspective, there are more people that would have benefitted [from the Precinct 3 project],” Ramsey said. “There needs to be a better process going forward. I hope this is not a glimpse of what the future holds.”

Tina Petersen, executive director of the flood control district, joined the meeting virtually and told commissioners the city had been developing a list of projects for the last year and a half through a “fairly rigorous process.”

“They know their system. They know the projects that work. And these were really city projects, not flood control projects,” Petersen said.

In response to questioning from County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Petersen said the district could incorporate its own prioritization framework in future partnership projects. Commissioners will have the opportunity to add an item to the agenda on that topic during subsequent meetings.

Commissioners will convene for their final regular meeting of the calendar year in two weeks on Dec. 13; Precinct 4 Commissioner-Elect Lesley Briones will then replace Cagle, and the first court meeting with a 4-1 Democratic majority will occur Jan. 10.