Before leaving for another meeting, CM Pennington made two notable comments: He said that infrastructure was his number one priority and also said that our area was “in the middle of the pack” on the list of projects on the city’s list. [A visit to www.rebuildhouston.org will show that the area around Springrock south of Westview is a Category 5, the lowest need. Also, the north end of Hollow Lane is a Category 5. This almost guarantees no CIP projects to correct flooding in these two areas.]
CM Bradford stated that it was the city’s view that their job with regard to TIRZ was to approve the budget and to appoint the new board members. Three new board members have been on TIRZ 17 only long enough to attend two meetings. Bradford urged us time to allow the new board members to right the wrongs of the past.
Lois Myers asked repeatedly of the panel why the four contracted detention ponds have not been put into place and why hadn’t the city upheld the contract. Potok said he was unaware of the contract between TIRZ 17 and the COH dated 2003. Lois said she would get him a copy.
John Rickel and Bob Tucker are two of the new TIRZ board members. Both live in the affected areas and formerly were on the other side of this issue so they are well aware of the issues. Bob expressed “great hope” for the future and said the new board is “far more open” to community concerns. NewTIRZ board member Rickel asked LAN engineers for an updated drainage study yesterday (12/12) taking Strey Lane out of the drainage solution and identifying an alternative path for water to flow to Buffalo Bayou.
The TIRZ will focus on drainage and the best use of their monies so the community gets the most drainage in the most cost effective way possible; “more detention is what we want” said Rickel. He added that the Barryknoll east project has been approved and will include a 40 acre detention pond; 30 acre feet is dedicated to flooding, not new construction. This project will be $26 million. However, it is up to the city to provide the channeling to the detention from W140.
COH monies cannot be used in a TIRZ area; only TIRZ money can be used for projects within the boundaries. Rickel brought up the fact that TIRZ 17 is only 800 acres big and all of the outlying areas that are affected by TIRZ projects are under the city and county umbrella. Therefore, coordination and cooperation are needed between the entities to solve the issue.
Bradford said flooding is a regional issue and should be looked at holistically instead of piecemeal as has been done in the past.
It was agreed by many parties that the current Tallowood project, costing $900,000 is a waste of money and will dump more water into W153. Roberta Prazak and Hugh Rawl asked why the Tallowood project was being rebuilt without looking at the RDS. PW&E Menendez did not have good answers why Hugh’s email was not answered.
Keith Brown spoke for the City of Bunker Hill Village. They are opposed to any increase in water down W151. The Strey Lane project is unavailable to the TIRZ. Bunker Hill Village said that the W151 bridge at Memorial Drive will not change in cross sectional area.
John Rickel stated that TIRZ 17 is specifically focused on two things: Mobility and Drainage. He said that they have requested that LAN update the RDS to reflect that Strey Lane is off-the-table. He agrees that TIRZ 17 money is limited so they need to get the most bank for the buck and work in partnership with HCFCD, TxDOT and COH.
Wes Holmes was concerned that there have been a lot of studies, but too little action.
Virginia Gregory repeatedly offered the solution to detention on the north side of I-10 to be constructed under Cross Point Church or in Hayden Park. The current detention on the east side will be rendered useless when Witte is reconstructed. Virginia Gregory shared a letter from Mayor Parker with Daniel Menendez of the PWE that stated the Hayden Park idea was not being looked at because it was deemed unacceptable. Virginia asked for the name of the engineer who gave this information to Mayor Parker; Menendez did not know the answer and was unaware of the issue. At a meeting later, CM Brown said she would reach out to the church to speak with them about the idea.
Ed Browne said that the COH prioritizes projects for thoroughfares first and neighborhoods last, so channeling will not happen. COH doesn’t have money. Menendez refuted these statements and recommended we visit the rebuildhouston.org site for details about upcoming projects which were divided into thoroughfares and drainage lists. Later, CM Bradford corroborated Ed Browne’s assertion that major thoroughfares have priority over neighborhoods. He said that he feels this is wrong because people living in flooding neighborhoods need to be able to get to major thoroughfares to escape.
Ann Givens spoke about her neighborhood’s flooding and hasn’t been given any attention. She said that NSR465 has not been given any priority.
Christina Walsh asked if the TIRZ Board has any possibility to modify the Budget as passed at CC. John Rickel suggests that he will try to modify the budget in order to reflect needs better, specifically projects that do not properly address where to put the water. John also pitches the TIRZ Workshop.
Daniel Menendez says that he doesn’t know anything about the TIRZ contract between the COH, TIRZ 17 and the Memorial City Management District. He commented that the TIRZ never submitted additional CIP projects, necessary to make the drainage projects, work to the City.
TIRZ invited everyone to a “workshop agenda” meeting to be held January 8 in the HCC Theater Building (NE corner of I-10 and Beltway frontage roads) at 5:30 PM. This is an endeavor to have dialogue with the community. Urged we submit our detailed questions for the engineer ahead of time so the dialogue would be improved. The format will be to go waterway by waterway and focus for a length of time on each one.