RAF has a fiduciary duty to support all of our membership. That includes informing residents that the CIP project for detention under the Spring Branch Memorial Sports Association ball fields on Attingham is still in flux. With this letter found in the Board packet from the February  2017, TIRZ 17 Board meeting,  TIRZ 17 has reopened their attempts to install detention along Buffalo Bayou, targeting two areas specifically: “Lakeside Country and Old Farm.”  Since large open detention is almost always less costly than chambered underground detention, the TIRZ 17 CIP project (T-1735) is still in play.

We sent this message to our iContact list on March 8, 2017.  It’s included herein with additional links and typo corrections.

RAF Supports Frostwood in its Plea for Detention

The President of Frostwood’s Community Improvement Association, Mitchell Winkler, recently wrote a letter urging support of the Mayor, City Council and TIRZ 17 Board for TIRZ Capital Improvement Project (CIP) T-1735, known as Detention Basin A (“A” for Addingham).  Promised for years, RAF agrees that this pond needs to be built post haste.

Any detention, anywhere, is desperately needed. However, there are concerns and a backstory you should know. For example, Detention Basin A is next door to brand new, mega-sized complexes, near Mac Haik Ford, that have no provision for their own stormwater run-off. Their water has no place to go. Is it realistic to believe that this basin is being built for residents of Frostwood and nearby?

Or is it more realistic that the added water detention is planned to service the new developments, and the TIRZ – once again – is not providing a real solution for your flooding.  Detention Basin A will only put us back to square one, serving the storm water needs of the new development.  We’ll need more.

TIRZ 17 devotes all of fiscal year 2018 to the acquisition of the land for Basin A and fiscal years 2018 and 2019 are devoted to building it. Total costs of Basin A are listed as $28M.

Water may be piped from as far away as Barryknoll.  And estimated costs for conveyance under Kingsride and Frostwood to the basin will be about $9M, but won’t be finished until 2021.

How much of the estimated 240 acre-feet of needed detention will this basin hold?

Since Detention Basin A has insufficient capacity by itself, the same 2017-2021 CIP includes a second pond, Detention Basin B, where “B” stands for Bendwood.  This pond only has $750,000 assigned in fiscal year 2021 for Planning.  That’s four years away.  How many times will you flood unnecessarily before it is actually constructed?

Given the number of times TIRZ projects have been reordered or rescinded, can you afford to rely upon their promise to keep this placeholder?  Do you have any recourse if they don’t?  If words don’t turn into action, RAF’s lawsuit will be the only leverage that we have.

In the meantime, TIRZ drawings have surfaced that seem to indicate the Memorial Drive project will receive water from the commercial properties in the southwestern corner of the TIRZ.  Where will this water go?  The Army Corps of Engineers says Buffalo Bayou cannot hold any more run-off.  If so, the why is LAN studying detention on the Bayou?

Included in the TIRZ 17 Board packet, but not discussed during the meeting was a letter to Chair Ann Givens from LAN, the firm designing the detention basin. The letter was a proposal for modeling three or four detention basins along Buffalo Bayou, then comparing them to the Detention Basin A to determine which alternative is the most cost-effective.

RAF believes the most effective solution is the one that saves the most homes from flooding and has the highest probability of actually getting built.

In the same letter, to Chair Givens, LAN disclosed that they had included a “north-south hydraulic connection beneath IH-10 located west of Gessner Road” in their 2014 Regional Drainage Study (RDS) Update. “This connection was evaluated as part of the RDS Update to provide relief for the area north of IH-10 in the proximity of Gessner.”

This is where the new Metro National development is located. (The MN development is adding its water to the existing, over-taxed Conrad-Sauer Basin. And your taxpayer money is paying to beautify it for their tenants.)

In the letter, LAN says that since new detention was added under Mathewson Road, the new pipe wasn’t necessary and therefore will reduce “the required mitigation detention required on Buffalo Bayou.”

Mathewson Road drains the Metro Nation property, then dumps its water into the Conrad-Sauer Basin where it’s pumped into an overflowing IH-10 system. Where will the water discharge when the three Conrad-Sauer pumps turn on?

RAF is concerned that there may have been other “hidden” pipes modeled in the RDS that skewed Study results or protected specific developer’s properties. We wonder if the water levels at the corner of Gessner and IH-10 would have been significantly higher without the pipe.  Now more water is captured in the Conrad-Sauer basin – more water on the IH-10 feeder roads with nowhere to go.

While RAF supports Frostwood’s pleas for detention, we also warn that this TIRZ continues to operate in a less than transparent manner.

In closing:

Please remember that both the north side and south side of IH-10 are connected by underground pipes.  A holistic solution to prevent flooding down to Buffalo Bayou must also include detention ponds in north side locations like the Spring Branch ISD bus barn or Haden Park.  Land acquisition costs are high, so parks and public facilities make ideal locations for detention ponds.

The TIRZ timeline of years on end for a single detention pond is unacceptable.  Why so long, so they can yank it away at the last minute as they have done before with other projects?  One city contract – 13 years ago – promised to build several basins, north and south of I-10.  Nothing was ever built.  This is one reason to continue to support our lawsuit – so they can’t continue to break contracts – promises.

Moving more water into a flood-prone region is unacceptable.  Spending any part of the anti-flooding budget to help CityCentre tear down a parking garage or beautifying a detention pond is unacceptable.

While supporting Frostwood’s request for a basin, RAF argues that a single detention pond is unacceptable.  And it’s certainly unacceptable if it is used to detain storm water run-off for buildings that should have legally paid for their own.

The TIRZ has the resources to do so much more.  Let’s stop thinking so small.

This is what we must advocate for:

A holistic solution with multiple detention ponds both north and south of IH-10 with no subsidies to developers until the flooding problem is solved!

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