Friendswood City Manager Morad Kabiri presented the city’s plans for upcoming city events during the June 1 City Council meeting.
Because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, Kabiri said the city has canceled the Fourth of July carnival at Stevenson Park, the concert at Centennial Park and the fireworks display.
“There was no way to achieve that with the social distancing requirements that have been put in place,” Kabiri.
However, he said the city will still celebrate the holiday and is planning a parade with a modified route that will weave through Friendswood neighborhoods.
“Rather than our citizens congregating in one particular area where we don’t have the resources to ensure that they are properly spaced, we are going to bring the parade to them so they can enjoy it with their family and friends in their front lawns,” Kabiri said.
Council Member John Scott said he thinks individuals should be able to choose whether they want to participate in public gatherings, such as Fourth of July events.
“I find it just amazing that we’re not even celebrating independence from a tyrannical government where we were given liberties and freedoms to make our own choices for our own interests, because the government tells us we can’t,” Scott said.
Council Member Trish Hanks said she was sympathetic to the hard decision Kabiri made.
“It’s very hard to go against [the advice of the medical community] and use taxpayers’ money to possibly endanger [residents],” Hanks said. “People can still have their celebrations at their homes, and I think your solution of trying to find a way to continue the parade and to celebrate in the community, to be creative, I commend y’all for that.”
Kabiri also announced plans for other city events including:
- modifying the Concerts in the Park to drive-in style events;
- cancelling summer day camp; and
- and noting the successful, recent Memorial Day remembrance, which occurred virtually.
Coronavirus relief funding in the city of Friendswood
At the June 1 meeting, Kabiri updated council on how the city plans to use federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Kabiri said based on Friendswood’s population, the city has been allocated $2 million under the law. Of this $2 million, he said the city has received approximately $300,000.
While the funding cannot be used to make up for shortfalls in city revenue, Kabiri said the city can use the money to offset costs incurred on expenses directly related to the coronavirus, including disinfectants, personal protective equipment, and facility upgrades that promote safety and social distancing.
“We are currently putting our plan together,” Kabiri said. “The $300,000 that’s already in our bank, we can spend those funds provided that we comply with the restrictions that were established. The remainder of the funds will be done on a reimbursement basis if we have the costs to justify them.”
Kabiri said while there is a need to open the economy up, the city plans to do so in a safe way. A number of Friendswood city facilities, including the library and City Hall, reopened June 1, according to Kabiri.
As city facilities open, Kabiri said staff entering secured areas will have their temperature taken. He said the city has not had a single employee test positive for the coronavirus.
“We are seeing double-digit growth in the number of new cases in our area, so it is a concern,” Kabiri said. “Things need to open back up ... but we want to make sure we do it in a fashion that is not exacerbating the growth of the pandemic.”