Apparently the sky’s not really falling, since the proposed budget FY2020 presented by the City Manager increases expenditures in every major area and includes a million dollars for him to use to plan the next bond issue. Including the proposed budget FY2020, City spending increased a million dollars a year for the past 5 years. Some takeaways:
Total outstanding bonded debt at September 30, 2019, will be approximately $123.8 million. The projected debt total (principal only) outstanding at September 30, 2020, will be $126.6 million, the highest in Bellaire’s history. (pgs 156-157)
An Open Letter to the Mayor and Members of City Council:
You may recall that I sent you an email on July 31st about the construction site on Fifth and Spruce Streets, part of $6.2 million dollars in contracts awarded to A Status Construction LLC. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire Council’s Careless Oversight of $6.2 Million Dollars of Bond Funds
At the first of several City Council meetings and workshops to discuss next year’s budget, Bellaire’s City Manager had a go at shaming Bellaire residents for petitioning to vote on 4 or 5-foot wide concrete sidewalks in their front yards. In a Proposed Budget FY2020 amounting to tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Hofmann made a point of pointing out the $80,000 cost for the Charter election scheduled for next May.
The reason for the petitions, the $4 million dollars Council diverted from street and drainage bond funds to build stand-alone sidewalks, wasn’t mentioned.
UPDATE:Another Public Hearing was held on August 8, 2019. The developer’s request for 85′ height in the CMU. Even though the property is not zoned for CMU. Meanwhile the original requests from 7/11/2019 have been put on hold, no explanation given. Video of P&Z meeting 8/8/2019
Planning and Zoning I want to preface this article with one piece of information. Many Bellaire residents point to the Rice Village as an example of shops in West University. It is not. The shops and the huge apartment complex … Continue reading →
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Have you received notification of the free Aquahawk Alerting system?
Dealt with a water leak not far from your new water meter?
Do you even know that you have a new water meter?
Or what an Aquahawk is?
Welcome to the $12.8 million dollar City of Bellaire contract with Siemens Industry Inc. Curious? Almost a quarter of the $54 million bond issue was devoted to it, but not for new water lines or drainage. Read on. Continue reading →
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“The plan takes care of “the basics” by repeatedly reinforcing the fundamental importance of neighborhood integrity in the City of Homes, as well as the priority residents place on parks and recreation opportunities, safe streets, and preservation of a small-town atmosphere amid a vast metropolitan region.” Excerpt from the updated City of Bellaire Comprehensive Plan in 2015.
For years one of Bellaire’s biggest draws has been that, unlike Houston, we have zoning.Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire – Back to Basics? Sounds Like A Plan!
August 6, 2019: There was good news for Bellaire residents as City Council voted 6 to 1 at the August 5, 2019, Council meeting to retain the existing residential zoning in the Bellaire Boulevard Estate Overlay District (BBEOD). Only outgoing council member Pat McLaughlan voted in favor. Let’s hope the same attitudes carry over to the rezoning requests for the property at 4800 Fournace Place.
I planned to write an article about the Planning & Zoning vote on April 11, 2019, on an application filed by a developer to amend the official zoning map.
It would rezone the property located at 4301 Bellaire Blvd from Bellaire Boulevard Estate Overlay District (BBEOD), a low density residential area, to CMU (Corridor Mixed-Used District) to allow for the possible construction of a 22,000 square foot, two-story office building with surface parking. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on 4301 Bellaire Blvd – Can We Trust Our Zoning?
Click the graphic at left to review the 8 page draft of the end product from the recent City Council Workshop. It is a 5-year priority plan distributed by the City Manager, and a lot for citizens to digest. For most intents and purposes, for now the future of Bellaire was basically decided in these 2 days. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire’s Future & the Status of the 2016 Bond Funds
Bellaire residents in the northwest area of the City just outside the Loop are concerned about proposed affordable housing units in Houston at the corner of Glenmont and South Rice Avenue. This would impact the Imperial and Mayfair area, which is already dealing with the development of the old Texaco/Chevron property to the south, the Walmart center development to the north, and the redesign of the 610/59 interchange. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Affordable Housing Proposed – Glenmont @ South Rice Avenue
This is from a City Council Meeting Overview issued on October 2, 2018: Presentation of the City of Bellaire World Trade Center Memorial Project, including updates on proposed concepts, stakeholder input, and private fundraising strategies. No action was requested of the City Council. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on What Is The Swift Tower Update? What’s Next For The World Trade Center Piece?
I watched the recent Flood Mitigation Task Force meeting held on March 26, 2019, available on Facebook. The focus was streets and drainage. How to prioritize what streets get fixed first. Suggested ranking criteria was first discussed – how many houses flooded in a block. How old the houses were. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Flood Mitigation Task Force Meeting March 26, 2019
The Council meeting on March 4th was a quiet affair with one highlight – local resident Dan Sebesta registered his objections to having his engineering qualifications questioned by the the City Manager. The highlight of his talk was his sign: VOTE NO BONDS. He opined that giving this City Council more bond money in November was like handing booze to an alcoholic.
Speaking about the upcoming election, four council seats will be in play. Hold that thought.
After the meeting the Council retired to a closed session and returned to the dais to vote in favor of a $6,000 raise for the City Manager. Six votes in favor, Council member Pat McLaughlan abstained. Video of the meeting can be found here.
Bellaire’s Debt will be $129.8 million at the end of FY2019 Not including the interest
Email your thoughts or opinions to the Mayor and members of City Council in care of our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at email@example.com
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Council Meeting March 4, 2019 – “Vote No Bonds” and A Raise For City Manager
Back in 2017 City Council approved $50,000 for a branding study, with a no-bid contract to a company owned by a Bellaire resident. The results of that study, a B/leaf logo, a verbal identity, and a green font, were met with derision by many Bellaire residents. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Welcome To A Lush Grove? Now It’s Migrated To The City’s Website!
Over half of the $23.38 million in bonds approved in 2016 for Water and Wastewater Improvements did not go toward new water or sewer lines. It was devoted to a contract with Siemens for new water meters and improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
According to our longtime Public Works director, who retired prior to this bond issue, the wastewater plant was in working order and in compliance with the TCEQ. However Council approved $8 million in renovations for the plant. Complete water meter replacement was based on tests on 70 water meters that showed ‘low flow’ was under-reported. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on How Much Debt Is Too Much?
Don’t be fooled by recent City Council votes on sidewalks. Five foot wide sidewalks are still the standard with street reconstruction. The stand-alone sidewalks have been shelved but the funds have not been redirected by City Council to other projects like new streets or drainage, even as Council is considering another $47 million dollar bond issue in 2019 and another $36 million in 2022. Take a look at the page below. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on How Is Our City Money Being Managed?
NOTE: The State of the City Powerpoint presentation from February 4, 2019, can be found at the end of this article.
Despite the large number of speakers at recent City Council meetings who opposed the Spruce/Fifth St project as planned, plus an overwhelming number of emails to members of City Council and the Nextdoor posts in opposition, the mayor and council approved the plan by a 6 to 1 vote at the February 18, 2019 City Council meeting. Only Pat McLaughlan opposed the project.
H-E-B employee vehicles parked in public spaces in the 5200 block of Cedar
Although the 2016 bonds were promoted for the design and construction of streets and drainage systems with sidewalks on at least one side of the street, the $2.5 million dollar award to Astatus for the Spruce/Fifth project includes $360,449 just for landscape and irrigation costs.
Further costs cannot be determined for the 7-foot wide sidewalks on both sides of the streets, curbs, angled public parking, decorative street lights, tree wells, etc. that are included in what is described as a street and drainage project. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Council Votes 6 to 1 To Proceed With The Spruce/Fifth St Project at 2/18/2019 Meeting
Welcome to Bellaire in the first decade of the twenty first century. From 9/11/2001 to Bellaire’s Centennial year of 2008. A new city manager, new parks, more bonds for streets, drainage and sidewalks, aquatics centers and municipal facilities. Zoning changes, and more park projects.
The Municipal Facilities cost has reached $21 million.
Council sang the praises of city staff at the January 7, 2019 council meeting for some cost savings – the cost for change orders for the Municipal Facilities was reduced to $302,516.
So far the amount for the new structures, estimated in 2017 to run about $19 million, is now close to $21 million, paid almost entirely from bond funds. Still to be completed is the demolition of the old city hall, the construction of a new Civic Center, parking lots, landscaping, and miscellaneous costs. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Cost Savings Won’t Lower The City’s Debt – See A Debt Comparison Courtesy Of The Texas Comptroller
Can’t the appearance of downtown Bellaire be improved without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to drive out our longtime businesses?
We already have everything we need to remain a successful and attractive community. A great location, terrific schools and parks. Friendly residents living on tree-lined streets in quiet neighborhoods. A city government that includes our own library, police and fire departments, and a public works department. Continue reading →
UPDATE 2/18/2019: Find the breakdown for the final proposed cost of $5,200,890.50 for the Spruce/Fifth ($2.5 million) and Maple/Bolivar ($1.76 million) projects – plus $1 million to the engineering companies. About 10% of the 2016 bond issue. The project was approved on at the City Council meeting. The full agenda can be found here. Agenda for February 18, 2019
The six (6) estimates are available at the end of this post.
It is important that you understand not only the financial damage that the proposed Spruce/Fifth St project as designed will inflict on our local businesses, but also the added cost to Bellaire taxpayers. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on About Those Bids for Spruce and Fifth + Maple and Bolivar
The January 28, 2019, City Council meeting went off like a rocket and just kept climbing. A link to the video of the meeting is available at the end of this article. Please watch the video, you’ll find it interesting. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on A Sidewalk Petition and Some Fireworks at the January 28th Council Meeting!
The highlight of the December 17, 2018, Council meeting was the presentation a Bellaire Master Drainage Concept Plan, beginning with a proposed interlocal agreement among Bellaire, TX-DOT, and the Harris County Flood Control District. Bellaire is located at the east/southeast terminus of various watersheds that flow into Brays Bayou. Continue reading →
At this point the proposed date for Council’s approval of the project is February 18, 2019. A pdf of the presentation can be found here: 1_7_19_Spruce&Fifth
The City of Bellaire seems determined to narrow 60 foot wide commercial streets to 26 feet wide (about the width of a residential street) – for 2 lanes of traffic. Traveled every day by 18-wheelers! With 2016 Bond money as part of a project to reconstruct streets, drainage, and sidewalks. Continue reading →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on A Master Plan For Wasteful Spending – While Harming Local Businesses
At the November 19th City Council meeting, Denton Ragland, CEO of the Bellaire Business Association, made a presentation promoting a campaign to encourage residents to ‘Stay Local to Bellaire Resources’ and stay loyal to their local businesses, then City Manager Paul Hofmann presented his report. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on City Council Update on Spruce/Fifth St Leads To An Unpleasant Exchange; The 4th Quarter Financial Report Is Available
Find information on Bellaire’s recycling program. The wrong items in our recycle bins cost us money! Find tips on other forms of recycling via the Our Environment tab on the menu. A Holiday Note: Did you know that MOST wrapping paper is NOT recyclable?
what can and cannot be recycled (no pizza boxes!)
how to dispose of hazardous waste
recycling those autumn leaves
grasscycling – no matter who does the mowing
water conservation and water pollution
mosquito misting concerns
and terrific information on plants from Aggie Horticulture
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on A New Addition To The Menu: Our Environment
At the November 5, 2018, City Council meeting a specific use permit for a car wash business at the corner of Bellaire Blvd and Ferris St. was not approved. The vote was 5 to 2, with Council members Pappas and Montague voting for the permit. Council had voted unanimously to approve a specific use permit for SLS Properties’ plans for the Chevron Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Yes to Chevron Property, No to Car Wash, Pause in the Sidewalk Saga
The Bellaire City Council, City Manager, and City staff discussed the possibility of another bond issue in 2019. The amount proposed by City staff is $47 million. A second bond issue in 2022 was also mentioned, at this point it would be an additional $36 million. Continue reading →
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Are you aware of Bellaire’s History Walk? Lynn’s latest chapter of Bellaire history, History In Tangible Form, explains the background of Bellaire’s History Walk and the various monuments around town. Part of the City’s centennial celebration. Find it here!
Call for Referendum To Require a Vote on Sidewalks!
SidewalkChoice was founded by a group of Bellaire residents who feel the $55 million dollar 2016 Bonds for Better Bellaire bond issue left out important facts about how the funds would be applied, and changes were made that obscured the true use of a portion of the funds. For more information on the petition calling for a vote on sidewalks go to www.sidewalkchoice.com
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Answer The Call For A Referendum on Sidewalks
From boomtown to slowdown, in 1980 population in Bellaire dropped from a high of almost 20,000 to less than 15,000. President Ronald Reagan defeated Michael Dukakis and reigned for the decade until George H.W. Bush took over in 1989. There was Black Monday in 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6% on October 19th, largest one-day decline in history. The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 closed the decade. Read the next chapter of Lynn’s Bellaire history!
Preface: In order to maintain our current revenue stream City Council has agreed on an increase to our property tax rate from $ .4159 to $ .4313 for tax year 2018 to compensate for the lower property values on the tax roll. Those residents whose assessed value increased or remained the same as the prior year will see an increase in their property tax for 2018. Those whose assessed value declined will see their tax bills remain the same or may see a decrease. Here’s a random example of the current situation, a beautiful 3200 square foot home in Southdale built in 1996 that suffered flood damage and was completely rebuilt. It sold this past July:
HCAD Value as of January 1, 2017 $811,160
HCAD Value as of January 1, 2018 $737,291 (a decline of $73,869)
Sold Price as of July 30, 2018 $670,000 (an additional decline of $67,291
Assuming the new owners protest the 2018 appraisal, this property’s value on the tax roll will be lowered a total of $141,160, or about 17%, from the 2017 value. And this is just one of approximately 2000 homes that flooded in Bellaire, many with lowered HCAD appraisals FY2018.Continue reading →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Property Values, Tax Increase, and Our Burgeoning Debt – Good Evening, Mayor and City Council,
Click to see how Bellaire’s debt compared to other similar sized cities in 2016- the current debt stands at $124 million
Many city governments find themselves up against a wall when they need money for day-to-day operating expenses, building new structures, improving existing structures or making repairs. Ongoing expenses, including employee wages, maintenance andinsurance, plus periodic projects including building schools, improving roadways and ensuring the safety of bridges, represent significant costs for city governments. To pay for these costs, a city’s resources include licensing fees and tax payments. But there are times when city budgets simply cannot sustain the city’s operating costs and city coffers come up shorthanded (or empty-handed) to cover expenses or fund needed projects. During times like these, government officials often turn to city bonds as a resource for raising the money. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, out of the blue, 4 members of Council chose to ignore the Bellaire residents who spoke out against the Pathways Plan and others who spoke against sidewalks in their front yards. By their vote to add 5 foot wide stand-alone sidewalks and even more concrete to our City those 4 members also turned their backs on the many residents who fear another flood. How much more concrete will cover Bellaire with 5-foot wide sidewalks? Or with more sidewalks, period? Continue reading →
It was 31 years ago, in 1977, that 4,619 Bellaire voters at a Special Recall Election called by a citizens’ initiative referendum succeeded in recalling from elected office the Mayor and three of the five City Council members.
HEB dumpster service – note how far the truck extends into the current 60′ R.O.W. – over half the width. And the delivery truck at another business. (Click for larger image)
You’ve heard the phrase ‘Not in my backyard’, right? This Spruce St/Fifth St project is everyone’s back yard. We tend to spend most of our home time in our neighborhood, but just about everyone in the City spends some time in our downtown area.
Initial Plan for 5100 block of Spruce. Purple parking areas block existing parking lots.
The plans are about 90% complete and the City is still determined to narrow the streets and build public parking – for who?
These folks are our neighbors. Some of them have been in business for 20 or 30 years or more. A bite to eat at Jax, windshield wipers or a plug for the lawn mower at O’Reilly’s, drop off your car at Bellaire Auto or your youngster at Treehouse Learning Center. How will you replace this kind of service if these trusted longtime businesses go away? Accessing the new H-E-B won’t be easy, either, with all the traffic forced into a constricted area if this street is narrowed. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Spruce Street – Not In My Backyard! But The City Manager Just Won’t Give Up. Why?
2. Item for Individual Consideration:Council discussion on sidewalk program implementation and possible action to provide direction to the city manager as appropriate – Submitted by Paul A. Hofmann, City Manager.
Was this item, posted at the end of the August 20th City Council agenda, sufficient to warn residents that a big change in sidewalk width might occur? Does this description provide any reason to think we will end up with 5-foot sidewalks?
Protests and Petitions
Group D Phase 2 Layouts – Orange Trees to be Removed
One week earlier, at the August 13th meeting, the stand-alone 4-foot sidewalk program (sidewalks installed only, not part of street reconstruction) was put on hold by Council. Numerous objections and petitions had been submitted by Bellaire residents who objected to sidewalks planned for their streets.
It appears that at least some members of City Council were listening to Bellaire residents who attended last week’s Council meeting. Discussion during the Special Session on August 13th focused on financial concerns and about flood mitigation rather than adding more concrete to the City. Continue reading →
Bellaire City Council faced a large crowd of Bellaire residents who turned out for the August 6th City Council meeting. The Council chambers and the City Hall atrium were full, and resident after resident spoke their mind on the Pathways Plan. Continue reading →
Chapter 9 of Lynn McBee’s Bellaire history is available here. Houston growth brings Loops and Freeways and a town divided. A time of growth, with more discussion on zoning and desegregation in our schools.
Meanwhile, please review the articles on the nightmare proposal on Spruce and Fifth Street! Here’s the latest post.This is another project the City Manager has been involved in for over a year. The businesses and land owners are not objecting to the new street and drainage improvements, only the plans for the parking that would narrow the street and hinder or block parking at their businesses.
See Costello Plans
It will harm our longtime local businesses, interfere with deliveries to the new H-E-B, create dangerous traffic patterns, and the costs, of course, will be provided after approval!
Even as we enter another hurricane season many residents in Bellaire and the Houston area continue to suffer from the damage and the costs of Hurricane Harvey. Numerous homes have yet to be repaired with the owners living in them as best they can, some living on upper floors; others have moved out and are living with relatives or in rented quarters. After three devastating floods in our area in three years (May 2015, April 2016, August 2017), only one of which was hurricane related, let’s first focus on the need for flood insurance.
Streets shown on current maps: 8 feet wide path – South Rice, Evergreen, Fournace, Newcastle; 6 feet wide path – Maple, Alder, Chimney Rock, Ferris, Anderson/Second, Englewood, Avenue B, Mulberry, Sunburst. (This Plan is not part of the sidewalk project currently in progress.)
See all files and graphics at the bottom of this article.
After a fractious meeting last Thursday evening the Planning and Zoning Commission voted not to approve the Pathways Plan. Lack of communication, lack of transparency, Continue reading →
Posted inPathways Study|Comments Off on P&Z Does Not Approve the Pathways Plan – Due to Move On To City Council for Review
When a new City Manager takes the reins in Bellaire we might expect that he or she would bring a former executive assistant along, someone already in tune with their style of management. Continue reading →
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UPDATE: The Pathways Plan was presented to Planning and Zoning on Thursday, July 12th. The Meeting video is available to view online. P&Z voted unanimously not to recommend the Plan to City Council at this time.
The Pathways Project will be ‘reviewed’ at the City Council meeting on August 6th. You can email Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that your email be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council.
Streets shown on current maps: 8 feet wide – South Rice, Evergreen, Fournace, Newcastle; 6 feet wide – Maple, Alder, Chimney Rock, Ferris, Anderson/Second, Englewood, Avenue B, Mulberry, Sunburst. (Let me know if I missed any.) See maps at the bottom of this post.
One of the items on the agenda for the June meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was “Discussion and possible action regarding the Community Pathways Project”. Updated project files can be found at the end of this post.
Ayo Bello, an engineer with HR Green, the contractor for this plan, explained that the Pathways plan was developed based on a City survey. The survey garnered 430 responses out of over 16,000 residents – about 2.7%.
City staff member Cristin Emshoff and Mr. Bello presented the details of the new plan in hopes of gaining the Board’s approval. After a PowerPoint presentation they explained that no pathway would be on private land, all would be built on public right-of-way (ROW).
Find it here: Council Priorities 2018-06-18. Take a look at the overview – the Chevron property; the costs to the city from Hurricane Harvey – $3.5 million, much of that will be reimbursed by FEMA and the Texas Municipal League, but a recent financial report estimated the City’s non-reimbursable loss at around $621,000. Continue reading →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Council Priorities and the Minutes of the Pre-Budget Planning Workshop
Here are the City Manager’s 7 easy steps to beautify downtown Bellaire:
1) Take the 60 foot wide commercial Spruce Street that runs behind a large grocery store, contains no small retail stores or boutiques, and is traversed daily in both directions by large delivery vehicles, narrow it to 30 feet or less and add sidewalks and angled public parking on the north side, which will…
2) Force large trucks turning from intersecting streets to swing wide to avoid jumping curbs while trying to avoid hitting other vehicles when making deliveries to businesses that line the narrow street while…
3) Being blocked from entering business parking lots along the north side of the street because of blocked or limited access to those businesses which…
4) Will damage those businesses economically due to the loss of private parking spaces and customer access and will also…
5) Endanger the lives of people parking in those angled parking spaces as they jaywalk to the other side of the street or try to back out into traffic on the narrow street and meanwhile the plan also…
6) Widens the intersecting Fifth Street that runs alongside the grocery store which would wipe out parking spaces for more businesses and then…
7) Narrows that street while constructing more sidewalks and angled parking spaces along the side of the new grocery store.Continue reading →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on The City Manager’s 7 Steps To Beautify Bellaire
5100 block of Spruce – business parking spaces have been blocked, loss of parking at Jax. Click for larger image.
Some background: In March of 2018 Public Works presented a plan to City Council to reconstruct the 5100 and 5200 blocks of Spruce St. and three blocks of North Fifth by the new H-E-B grocery. The plan would add public angled parking along the north side of Spruce and the east side of Fifth on City right of way. See Costello Overlays Updated May 2018 . Also fancy lamp posts and trees. Paid for by bond funds for streets and drainage, but no cost was provided for the additional parking, utility work, irrigation, and extra amenities. Continue reading →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Spruce and Fifth Street Neighborhood Meeting – What Will Happen To Local Businesses?
The City Council and the City Manager are fond of referring to various plans and studies to justify expenditures, sometimes on questionable projects and more studies. We hear about the Comprehensive Plan, the Branding Study, Terrain Studios and something called Visioning Bellaire, and the Pathways Plan. And now the Spruce and Fifth Streets project, which if approved as planned will harm businesses in the area around the new HEB. The project has not yet been approved but some of those businesses are already suffering from current street construction. Continue reading →
Thursday, May 3, 2018, the Mayor and City Council will hold an all day pre-budget planning session in the Centerpoint Energy Community Center, located over the entrance to the Aquatics Center. For those residents unable to attend the Session you can find information on updates, fiscal forecasts, and City Council priorities in the 2018-05-03 Mayor and Council – Full Agenda-1708. Discussion on:
Pushing out small businesses around HEB that don’t meet Bellaire’s ‘higher standards’ (see Spruce/Fifth Streets) and see page 10 of the Agenda pdf above. (The euphemism is “to encourage commercial redevelopment”)
Adding to Bellaire’s debt with a $48.5 million bond issue in 2019
Increasing Bellaire’s water and sewer rates over the next 5 years
Ensuring public safety; money for infrastructure, public works and library buildings, and parks.
Residents are speaking out in opposition to the proposed Pathways Plan. The cost may be paid by the 2016 Bonds for Better Bellaire funds for Streets, Drainage and Sidewalks. The estimated cost could exceed eight million dollars. You’ll find more information at Pathways Study under City Studies in the main Menu.
NOTES from the February 20th presentation: The proposed Loop System pathway width may be 8 feet and it runs throughout Bellaire neighborhoods.
PLEASE study the maps included in this presentation. The estimated total cost is approximately $12 million, not including the cost for rights of way, utility relocation, and other attendant costs. Another $1.5 million is shown for sidewalks.
According to the PowerPoint presentation a survey (Survey Monkey) of Bellaire residents garnered 440 responses, 7 of them non-residents. Let City Council know what you think. Were you aware of the presentation in January or February? I was not. Nothing in the water bill, nothing distributed door-to-door with the trash bags. What do you think? Is it time to organize? Please post your comments on the User Comments page.
UPDATE FROM A RESIDENT: I got a response from the City Manager as well as the Special Projects Manager. Looks like we don’t have to worry about Baldwin sidewalks!:
Thank you for reaching out. I can inform you the original recommendation to install a pathway along Baldwin for both bicyclists and pedestrians has been removed from the Community Pathways Plan.
During our open comment period, we have received comments similar to what you have indicated in your email. This caused a closer examination of this recommendation. The pathways identified in this plan are intended to be within the City’s right of way and are not intended to be on resident’s property. In Bellaire, most right of ways are 60’. This is not the case for Baldwin – it’s a 50’ right of way. In order to add a pathway on Baldwin, the entire roadway would have to be realigned, very similar to how the Newcastle Trail was constructed when Newcastle Street was completed. In addition, Baldwin was recently constructed in 2011 and is in good condition. There are also numerous conflicts (trees, utilities) in the right of way that would have to be relocated or removed. For this area, the Newcastle Trail can be used as an alternative pathway.
Substandard and abandoned houses were an early topic of last Monday’s regular Council meeting. After numerous complaints from residents on Nextdoor and articles in the Southwest News about abandoned houses the City Manager provided a PowerPoint presentation on the subject. Continue reading →
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Why would a City choose to harm its small businesses? Spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so?
In November of 2016 Bellaire voters gave the City Council and City Manager a big pot of money – right at $54 million dollars. About $34 million was available to be spent on streets, water, drainage, and sidewalks. In 2017 City Council approved about $3 million dollars of contracts to 6 engineering firms. As one Council member noted – before one drop of concrete was poured. Continue reading →
Have you tried to find information on the City of Bellaire website? One example: search for City Council agenda packets. You’ll find the calendar for the current month where you can click on the Council meetings. The next best possibility is City archives, except the most recent agenda shown is for March 24, 2014. If you really want to find the most recent agendas you literally have to go back month by month.
Search for transparency or transparency in government. First up is annual local debt report – informative (and scary), but not really about transparency in government. Then some type of City report, and so on. Nothing close to West University’s site, which lists Transparency in Government as a main menu item.
What’s your experience with Bellaire’s website? Comments are welcome
Construction on the new Bellaire High school began in 2018.
The new school was financed by the 2012 HISD bond election and completion is expected in 2022.
Little FREE Libraries
You’ll find Little Free Libraries popping up throughout Bellaire. Loftin Park, Evelyn’s Park, Ware Family Park, plus private LFLs. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
100 Years of Bellaire History!
Click on the Trolley to view the Table of Contents for Lynn McBee’s history of Bellaire.