Remarks of Bellaire residents at this meeting and at a previous Planning and Zoning meeting made it clear that lack of transparency surrounding the deals on this parking lot among Evelyn’s Park Conservancy, CenterPoint, and Southside Commons, aided by City of Bellaire staff, has led to stress and dissension among neighbors and to resident disgust, anger, and suspicion of the City and the Conservancy.Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on A Semi-Brief History of Evelyn’s Park: 1908 – 2020
This is from the Mayor’s blog, 11/10/2020. A modified design and 20 conditions: The shape of the outfield has been modified to save several more of the mature oak trees on the Avenue B side of the property, while also allowing for additional on-site parking.To offset the loss of those trees that will need to be removed, HISD will be planting at least 34 new ones. Should any of the trees to be preserved not survive construction, HISD will be required to replace them with trees of the same size and species if possible, and if not then with multiple smaller trees (each a minimum 8”) that collectively equal the same total caliper size.
Fencing around the entire perimeter of the property will further protect the neighbors by deterring on-street parking, an advantage over the 2017 approved plan. Unlike some of the alternative options that were presented, ingress and egress on Bissonnet only has been restored, to reduce traffic impacts on residential streets. Numerous other conditions attached to the permit are directly responsive to community concerns, including a net reduction in storm water runoff and more on-site detention than the status quo.
We recognize this new site plan may not be entirely perfect in all respects and to all people—no more than the 2017 approved plan was—but hopefully once it’s operational it’ll prove generally acceptable to most. Council carefully considered the thoughtful public comment we received, all of which contributed to a better outcome than would have been achieved otherwise. The conditions below are reflective of and effectuate that input, in attempting to strike the right balance between HISD’s use of the property and reasonable protections for the neighborhood:
(a) No field lights or public address system shall be installed on the property;
(b) The facilities shall be for the sole and exclusive use of Bellaire High School and not by other entities without prior consent from the City Council of the City of Bellaire, Texas (the “City Council”);
(c) The site shall be locked when not in use. However, the City of Bellaire Police Department shall have access to the site at all times. The access plan shall be approved by the Bellaire Police Department;
(d) The facilities shall be used for only the following uses and times listed below, and any other use or time shall require prior approval from the City Council:
Bellaire High School varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball practices – on weekdays until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays until 5:30 pm;
Bellaire High School junior varsity baseball and softball games, excluding tournaments – on weekdays until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays until 5:30 pm; or
Bellaire High School baseball and softball community events, not to exceed two events for baseball per year and two events for softball per year – until 7:30 p.m. For such events access/parking management plan shall be submitted to the City of Bellaire Development Services Director for review and approval prior to the event and specifically detail overflow parking and access management considerations to minimize impacts to adjacent residential streets and to prevent excess traffic congestion on Bissonnet Street;
(e) Construction ingress/egress shall be limited to Bissonnet Street, specifically restricting construction access through Avenue B and/or Feld Park, except as required to close the existing driveway to Avenue B and to plant trees along Avenue B;
(f) There shall be no net fill nor significant impediment to sheet flow on the site;
(g) The lowest visual impact netting material shall be utilized for all nets on the perimeter of the site. The netting on the third base line of the baseball field shall be extended to protect parked cars;
(h) HISD shall meet the lot coverage and setback requirements of the Code of Ordinances of the City (applying to schools in residential areas);
(i) As represented by HISD at the public hearing before City Council on September 21, 2020, the fields must be graded to avoid runoff and may only be compacted consistent with residential greenspace and solely for the purposes of creating a safe playing surface;
(j) All trees shall be preserved behind residences on the west side of the property, on the south side of the property adjacent to Feld Park, and along Avenue B, excepting one tree in right field, and HISD shall take all reasonable measures necessary for such tree preservation, including but not limited to following the direction of a professional arborist. However, if any of the above referenced trees on HISD property do not survive construction, HISD shall make all reasonable efforts to replace their lost tree(s) with tree(s) of the same size and species, in approximately the same location. In the event that similar caliper trees are not available, are prohibitively expensive, or cannot reasonably be placed in the same location, HISD may replace their lost tree(s) with multiple similar species trees of minimum 8” caliper to collectively equal the caliper dimension of the tree(s) that do not survive;
(k) No artificial or impermeable turf may be used for the fields. No tarps may be used. No solid (plastic or otherwise) horizontal ground weed barriers may be installed;
(l) No concrete on site except as may be necessary under the batting cages, bleachers, restrooms and storage, for the parking lot, and for sidewalks and pathways which are necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended;
(m) As represented by HISD at the public hearing before City Council on September 21, 2020, the result of the drainage study and drainage plan (including the use of on-site detention) must reflect a net benefit in reduction of runoff and on site detention in comparison to the current condition, taking into account all changes;
(n) Upon the request of City staff (at the direction of Council or on its own accord), HISD must provide an officer to assist with traffic during any games or events;
(o) The pre-existing sidewalk on Avenue B and Bissonnet must be preserved;
(p) No video monitors;
(q) The only on-site lights on the property shall be low impact safety lights directed away from residences;
(r) Except for on the parking lot driveway, HISD shall construct a fence around the entire property inside of the existing sidewalk;
(s) Ingress/egress to the property shall be only on Bissonnet Street; and
(t) On-site parking shall include a minimum of 48 parking spaces.
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on HISD Baseball Field Layout and Conditions – November 2, 2020
On November 2, 2020, City Council will consider the HISD application for the construction of two baseball fields on the grounds of the old Gordon Elementary School, located at 6300 Avenue B. Many of the area residents’ concerns have been addressed in the final document presented to Council, including preservation of as many on-site trees as possible. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on City Council in November: HISD Ball Fields, Bellaire Blvd Parking Lot, Debt Reduction, And A Search For A City Manager
UPDATE 10/21/2020: City Council voted 5-2 to approve a 1% match in the $65 million dollar CDBG-MIT grant application at the October 19, 2020, meeting. The application includes the demolition of our wastewater treatment plant to create a detention area. Here’s a link to the meeting. Start about 4.30 into the meeting. Very interesting. Bellaire is committed to pay over $650,000 if the grant is awarded and the City accepts it. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Is Bellaire Ready For The Cost, Uncertainty Of Turning Over Wastewater Treatment To Houston?
Why will the Board of Adjustment, rather than Planning and Zoning, hear a request on September 17th (7 PM) from a developer for an amendment to a zoning ordinance for a Planned Development? Apparently it’s semi-complicated.
This is part of an agenda item from a Planning and Zoning Public Hearing this past January regarding the AT&T Property at 6500 West Loop in Bellaire: Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Another Developer Wants A Variance – For 1.99 Acres on Bissonnet @ 610
On August 20, 2020, Bellaire’s Board of Adjustment votedNO, 4 to 2, on a request from O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for a variance in the zoning of the UV-D to construct a new one-story building at their current location at 5134 Spruce. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on What’s The Point Of Our Urban Village-Downtown?
UPDATE 9/4/2020: A Public Hearing was held on Thursday, August 13, 2020, before the Planning and Zoning Commission, for the parking lot at 4300 Bellaire Blvd. I counted twenty speakers opposed the zoning request, no one spoke in favor. The next P&Z meeting is scheduled for September 10, 2020. However the September 10th Agenda, just posted, contains no mention of the the parking lot other than in the minutes from the August meeting. Oversight? If not, what’s going on?
Bellaire’s Municipal budgets are dry and hard to digest. Lots of verbiage, numbers, graphs, etc. It’s understandable that most residents don’t spend time reviewing them, and so may have missed the $6 million dollar Dog Pound that was added to the wish list of Future Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Not Interested In Bellaire’s Proposed FY2021 Budget? How About A $6 Million Dollar Dog Pound?
UPDATE 11/17/2020: At a Public Hearing on Monday, November 16, 2020, the City Council rejected the applications. UPDATE 10/8/2020: The requests to rezone the parking lot were rejected by Planning and Zoning on October 8, 2020, by a vote of 0-6. UPDATE 8/16/2020: A Public Hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission for the parking lot at 4300 Bellaire Blvd was held on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 6 PM. Over twenty residents signed up to speak; all speakers opposed the zoning request. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on No Logo, No Welcome Sign – Just A Parking Lot At The Main Entrance To The City Of Bellaire?
Many Bellaire residents point to the Rice Village as an example of small shops and boutiques in West University. It is not. The shops and the huge apartment complex are in Houston. West University would not allow that huge mixed-use multi-family structure in their city. In fact West U allows no multi-family, and nothing over 2-1/2 stories. Bellaire? Not so much. Please, read on. This article was updated on July 24, 2020.
The Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission will be making decisions and recommendations on a number of important zoning matters in the new few months. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on A Primer on Bellaire P&Z: Updates, A 30 ft Minimum Height And A Zero Setback!
Public Comments at the July 6, 2020, Council meeting included a call from Raquel Boujourne, the owner and president of A Status Construction LLC, the contractor responsible for the Spruce/Fifth project. Ms. Boujourne stated that her company has been blamed for the delays on the project and that the accusation was false and unacceptable. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on A Status Construction Owner Spoke At City Council
UPDATE 6/24/2020: Mayor Friedberg announced that City Manager Paul Hofmann has been hired as the City Manager of Bastrop, TX, and will be leaving Bellaire on August 2, 2020.
The June 15, 2020, Council meeting was an in-person action packed forum that lasted over four hours. Unfinished business set the tone for the night with the first agenda item, a second appearance by James Andrews with ARKK Engineers to request additional payment of $116,303.00 for construction management of the long overdue projects of Spruce/Fifth and Bolivar/Maple. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on City Council Is Back In City Hall, And Back In Action!
Sorry, this is a long article. The health crisis and lack of in-person Council, commission, and board meetings have not slowed down the staff meetings and planning sessions at City Hall. Click on items of interest below to read the various updates at your leisure. As always, stay safe.
Remember this? South Rice Avenue before the new City Hall/Civic Center was built? Carefree driving with 2 wide lanes in each direction? UPDATE: At the June 15, 2020, City Council meeting the Mayor and members of Council voted unanimously to return this segment of South Rice Avenue to the original arrangement of four lanes with parallel parking along the west side.
Have you driven southbound lately as it narrows to one lane, especially during rush hour and before the health crisis? Were you cut off by merging drivers? Did you try to make a right turn from the ‘legal’ lane, only to be cut off by someone cutting around the one lane of traffic via the angled ‘parking’ space lane?
City of Bellaire Economics in 2020 – A New Paradigm
The economic damage from the current health crisis is alarming, and the City of Bellaire anticipates a decrease in revenues FY2020. At the April 6, 2020, City Council meeting Council member Wesely requested discussion and possible action on measures to reduce expenditures, including a hiring freeze. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire After The Virus Shutdown – In Transit and On Hold
The recent Bellaire City Council meeting on March 2, 2020, which included a Workshop regarding Revised Street and Drainage Reconstruction Selection Criteria, once again revealed a marked change in attitude by Council members. Continue reading →
Members of the Bellaire Planning & Zoning Commission have been tasked with drafting proposed amendments to the Technical Research Park District (TRPD), for the purpose of creating a new zoning district, North Bellaire Special Development (NBSD) District. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire’s Trend For Commercial Development – Residents Had Better Pay Attention
The City Manager’s weekly memo of 2/14/20 contains another memo, from project manager Joseph McMillen to Paul Hofmann. Mr. McMillen addresses the Bolivar Street and Innsbruck Street projects, trumpeting the quality of the work while disparaging the protests of the residents who apparently didn’t realize their streets had so many problems. The City’s main complaints about Bolivar seemed to be that it was too high and too flat.Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Open Letter – Bolivar, A Double Standard. Is It Time For A Change?
What’s the value of a City of Bellaire construction contract? Apparently if you’re the owner of the company awarded contracts for the City Manager’s pet projects it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on City of Bellaire – Beautification or Boondoggle?
The January 27, 2020, council meeting, the second of the year, was eventful – and long. After discussing and approving various ordinances, some passing after minor tweaks, the meeting moved on to Items for Consideration. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire City Council – A 5 Hour Marathon
In a recent weekly memo on 1/10/2020 Bellaire City Manager Paul Hofmann explained that last Fall it was discovered that the surety bonds provided by A Status Construction, LLC for three (3) City bond projects, totaling over $6.5 million dollars, were fraudulent. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire City Manager Addresses A Problem With Fraudulent Surety Bonds
On January 30, 2019, Bellaire’s City engineer James Andrews of ARKK Engineers recommended a company new to Bellaire, A Status Construction, LLC, as qualified to run several construction projects funded by the 2016 bond issue, including the $2.5 million Spruce/Fifth St project. The question is why, based on what information? Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on ARKK References For A Status Construction – We Have A Problem!
It’s time for some thoughtful reflection on our recent City Council elections. I believe the election results revealed that our Mayor and recent Council members had lost the trust of both residents and local businesses while following the lead of the City Manager. That a majority of Bellaire citizens feel it’s time for fiscal discipline and time for their concerns to be addressed. We don’t need more divisive and contentious issues or flashy projects, we need calm, thoughtful leadership. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Hopes For A New Year And A New Bellaire City Council
UPDATE 12/31/2019: Notice of public hearings on January 9, 2020, for applications from HISD for revisions to the proposed sports fields at the old Gordon Elementary site on Bissonnet and from Cushman & Wakefield, on behalf of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (AT&T), regarding the property at 6500 West Loop South. Find more information in the Agenda for 1/9/2020 P&Z Session.Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on P&Z – HISD Sport Fields and AT&T Bissonnet @ 6400 Loop 610 – UPDATE
After submitting grant applications to various agencies Bellaire is the recipient of two grants to date. A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $252,033.84, for flooding from 2015, will be applied towards the Group C Phase 3 bond project. specifically the 4300 block of Cynthia. Council member McLaughlan continued to question the need for reconstruction of this particular block in Southdale. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire Receives Grants For Bond Projects and an Urgent Care Center Is Approved
UPDATE 12/14/2019: The results of the Bellaire Runoff Election are in. The new City Council members are Nathan Wesely for Position 4 and Jim Hotze for Position 6, joining Catherine Lewis on City Council in January, 2020. Here’s the Agenda.
Scan the most recent posts on this site. You’ll find articles on developer requests to rezone numerous Bellaire properties. Not requests to construct developments that comply with current zoning, but to change it. These developers want more, in essence to revise Bellaire’s zoning to suit their desires. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Why Has Bellaire, Our City of Homes, Become A Target For Commercial Developers?
Remember the curb and sidewalk along the right turn lane on Fifth at Bissonnet?
Now it’s a wall high enough to require a railing to prevent someone falling into the street. The right turn lane is gone.
Construction is underway on Spruce and Fifth St. alongside and behind H-E-B. Promoted by the City Manager and approved by 6 members of City Council, the City of Bellaire decided to narrow 60 foot wide commercial streets to 26 feet wide (about the width of your residential street). The affected areas are lined with local businesses. Traveled every day by 18-wheelers and delivery trucks! Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on An Ornate ‘Streetscape’ Behind a Multi-Story Grocery Store? Why?
UPDATE: March, 2020 – Still no actual list of responses to reference checks from the City of Bellaire. A logical deduction: perhaps none were made, no one was contacted, or perhaps the responses were not positive.
An Open Letter to the Mayor and Members of City Council:
You may recall that I sent you an email on July 31, 2019, about the construction site on Fifth and Spruce Streets, part of $6.57 million dollars in contracts awarded to A Status Construction LLC. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire Council’s Careless Oversight – $6.5 Million Dollars of Bond Funds
Is anyone else curious about the disparity between the proposal to purchase a new EMS ambulance for $280,000, and the fact that Bellaire leases other City vehicles instead of purchasing them? Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on If Bellaire Can Afford A $280,000 EMS Ambulance, Why Not A Ford Pickup Truck?
ChristChurch Presbyterian, at the corner of Bellaire Blvd and South Rice Avenue, is for sale. Originally established as a Presbyterian church in 1919, Bellaire Presbyterian merged with Braeburn Presbyterian in 2006. According to Bellaire history the current red brick sanctuary was built in 1957, and is part of an attractive campus rimmed by beautiful live oak trees. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on ChristChurch Presbyterian in Bellaire Is For Sale
Two Bellaire residents spoke at the City Council meeting on Monday, October 21, 2019, expressing their concern about a new residential construction in their area that is elevated about 10 to 12 feet off the ground. See the photo at left. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on The Sky’s The Limit! At Least For Now…
My Comments at City Council on September 16, 2019:
Good Evening, Mayor and City Council,
I realize that you would prefer that we simply support you in your approval of this budget. That we hand you and the City Manager control of over $46 million in City funds with little or no examination of the expenditures. Some of you seem to resent any scrutiny about how that money is to be managed and spent. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Did Bellaire Voters Miss The Fine Print in the 2016 Bond Election?
Since 1980 Bellaire voters have approved $199,980,000 in bond issues. Most of that amount, $165,480,000, has been approved since 2000. We currently owe about $123 million. What do we have to show for all that debt?
Even though many homeowners are recovering from the 2017 flood, and we still have lovely areas of homes lining shady streets, why do so many other streets and especially our main thoroughfares reflect a lack of maintenance? Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on All That Debt – Where Has The Money Gone?
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?
“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!
UPDATE 9-27-2019: On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the City Council approved an increase the total tax levy for the 2019 tax year (fiscal year 2020) by 3.28% by proposing a tax rate of $0.4473 per $100 valuation. Less then the original 8% and the second reduction to 7.1% but most property taxes will still increase.
UPDATE 9-30-2019: After cutting some expenses and moving amounts from one account to another, the City Council essentially adopted the budget submitted in July. Less than $200K in spending cuts in a $46 million dollar budget. 2020 Bellaire Budget
We learned from the third budget session, held on August 26, 2019, that our appraised property values have appreciated and Bellaire’s property tax revenue for 2019 may increase by about $1.3 million. The City Manager announced that this allows a decrease to a 7.1% tax rate for 2019. It seems that no matter how much revenue this city takes in, it all gets spent – and then some. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Tax and Spend – Bellaire Council’s Budget Session #3 and Some Updates
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: Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire Budget FY2020 – And The City Manager’s Hit List!
UPDATE 9-27-2019: Some good news. On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the City Council meeting will include a presentation regarding a proposal to increase the total tax levy for the 2019 tax year (fiscal year 2020) by 3.28% by proposing a tax rate of $0.4473 per $100 valuation. Based on the earlier suggestions of an 8% increase this comes as a relief to taxpayers, though many residents felt no tax increase was needed due to the increase in revenues of a million dollars or more per years for the past 5 years, plus higher appraised values for many property owners are anticipated.
Could we see our Bellaire property taxes increase as much as 25% over the next 5 years? A proposal for an 8% increase for 2019, and increases of 3.5% per year though 2024 was discussed at at the first of several City Council meetings and workshops to discuss next year’s budget. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Bellaire Property Taxes Up 25% Over The Next 5 Years?
UPDATE: A second workshop is to be scheduled during the week of October 28, with a public hearing to follow during the week of November 18, tentatively. The Commission would then vote at their December 12, 2019, meeting.
“There are 82 monitoring wells on the property, and the last report that I found on the website said that 41 showed contamination,” said Bellaire resident Charles Platt at the July 11, 2019, P&Z meeting, referencing the TCEQ Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on 4800 Fournace & 5901 South Rice – Development & Apartments – Undermining Residents and Our City of Homes?
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
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 is estimated to be $124.8 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 →
Over the past five years our property tax rate has risen from $.3805 in 2015-2016 to $.4473 for 2019-2020, an 18% increase.
The City’s revenue from property taxes increased – from $15.42 million for 2015 to $20.53 million in 2019. A 33% increase. More than $5 million dollars in five years. Anticipated revenue in 2020 is $21.9 million.
But no Capital Improvement Cash funds are scheduled to be paid from the General Fund in year 2020. Nothing for Parks or the Library. Why?
Over those same 5 years our bonded debt increased almost $50 million dollars, to $127.5 million by 9/30/2019.
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