By Mary Alys Cherry
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
That was Nassau Bay City Manager Chris Reed quoting Margaret Mead and referring to the leadership of the former mayor, Don Matter, as the city prepared to name its new city hall for the man who has led the transformation of the city from one with dusty old buildings lining NASA Parkway to one with a vibrant and beautiful town square. Centered around a new hotel.
Hundreds gathered outside the shiny new Don Matter Municipal Building, which houses the 12,573-square-foot city hall on the second floor and the 10,463-square-foot offices of Barrios Technology on the first floor.
The building – next door to the new Courtyard by Marriott — replaces the city hall that developer Fred Griffin built to replace the one that was torn down to make way for Nassau Bay Town Square. City Council voted to add to the building, at a cost to the city of $1.6 million, in case extra space was needed in the future. Meanwhile, it will be home to Barrios for the next few years.
“If you talked to the people who played a role in bringing this building to life, you would hear thousands of different stories…but I believe here is a building that firmly stands for the capacity of its own people – the people of Nassau Bay who by their support for this project, by their patience for its completion and their steadfast determination to have a new building, have produced perhaps one of the finest city halls in the State of Texas,” Reed said.
“Don believes in the power of volunteers,” he continued, pointing out that Matter was a volunteer fireman, served as a councilman for two years and as mayor for 15 years – “a selfless leader who always put the city and residents’ needs before his own” and “guided the city through Hurricane Ike and the aftermath, even though he was faced with his own damaged home.”
When it was Matter’s time to speak, he said he was not only grateful to be honored but humbled, going on to thank his wife, Sherry, and children Chad, Kimberly and Ashleigh, who were there with their families to share the occasion with him.
He also thanked former Mayor Don Johnson for getting him involved in city government back in 1994, along with George Dempsey and John Haugan; City Secretary Pat Jones and City Managers John Kennedy and Reed for their work; and Will Dean, “who was instrumental in getting the Saudi Arabian owners of this property to sell the land and open our first real chance at redevelopment.
“Next is Fred Griffin, the person with the vision of this development” and “once the land deal was completed, the work really began for John Kennedy, Roscoe Lee, the planning commission, Dick Gregg Jr., Sue Darcy and Trey Larry.” They made it the reality it is today, he said, adding that “BAHEP President Bob Mitchell was instrumental in helping us land the Marriott hotel, as key anchor, as you see today.
“I have received some significant awards and recognitions in my professional career, but nothing can top this,” he said in concluding his remarks.
Others on the program were Mayor Mark Denman, who also welcomed the crowd, former City Manager John Kennedy, the Clear Creek ROTC and members of the Clear Creek Chamber Singers.
The ceremonies ended with the Masonry Cornerstone Leveling Ceremony by the Grand Lodge of Texas, after which guests were invited to tour the new city hall and enjoy refreshments provided by Amoco Federal Credit Union.