The Howard Hughes Corp. requested a $9.1 million reimbursement for costs associated with the construction of Rob Fleming Park from Municipal Utility District No. 386, which represents the Village of Creekside Park in The Woodlands.

According to MUD 386 officials, the district has the funding set aside because it has been included in every voter-approved bond since Howard Hughes and MUD 386 entered a reimbursement agreement for the park’s design and construction in 2006.

While the payout for the reimbursement is not expected to raise taxes, residents expressed concerns it could result in a standstill tax rate.

Located at 6055 Creekside Forest Drive, the park was built by Howard Hughes for the Village of Creekside Park in 2007 and deeded to MUD 386, which owns the recreation facility. Howard Hughes donated the parkland, valued at $300,000.

Daniel Kolkhorst, vice president of land development for Howard Hughes, presented the item to the MUD 386 board of directors during a Nov. 4 MUD 386 regular meeting.

Kolkhorst said MUD 386 was created later than other utility districts in The Woodlands, so MUD 386 was granted recreation powers that were signed into conception.

“Most of the village parks in The Woodlands did receive some grant funding,” Kolkhorst said. “By the time 2006 rolled around, the grants from those agencies were no longer viable, ... and that’s why we got together with the MUD.”

Creekside Park residents formed the Coalition for Responsible Development in 2014. Kira Becker, a coalition member and Creekside Park resident, created a petition requesting MUD 386 conduct an independent legal review of the reimbursement, which has 394 signatures as of Dec. 8.

“I don’t think it would be fair to demand that the MUD not do this request,” Becker said. “There might be other paths forward that are better aligned with what’s legally necessary.”

Kolkhorst said during the meeting the bond sale would not affect the MUD’s tax rate because the reimbursement funding has been set aside. “We want [the district] to be able to lower your tax rate as quickly as possible,” Kolkhorst said.

However, Creekside Park residents said they worry about a stagnant tax rate if the reimbursement is granted.

“I believe Kolkhorst was correct saying that technically the residents’ taxes wouldn’t change,” Becker said. “I do think that’s a bit misleading because they would stay that way when they should be dropping.”

The attorney for MUD 386, Howard Cohen, was unable to confirm the reimbursement would not affect the MUD’s property tax rate.

Cohen said no decision has been reached by the MUD 386 board, and further consideration is not expected until sometime in 2022.

Editor's note: A graphic appearing with the print version of the story incorrectly listed the fiscal year 2021-22 tax rate for MUD 385 as $1 per $100 valuation. The tax rate is $0.49 per $100 valuation. This information was updated in the online graphic.