Construction on the new Bellaire High began in 2018. The main building in the rendering above will back to homes along Valerie St while a new parking garage and parking lot will eventually replace the original building along Maple and South Rice Avenue.
The new school was financed by the 2012 bond election and completion is expected in 2022.
The main building will back up to Valerie St. The parking garage and surface lot will be located at South Rice Ave and Maple St.
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Groundbreaking Ceremony For New Bellaire High School
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.
Please review their information below and if you feel there are good reasons to oppose this plan – additional traffic, already too many area apartments, overcrowding the local schools, a greater need in other locations – please send an email to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, also to our local, state, and federal representatives.
New Affordable Housing at Rice & Glenmont – 200 ft from Bellaire 5612 S. Rice Ave., Houston, TX 77081 Project No. 19070
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.
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.
Click to View Site
The new logo was not adopted, but in a petty act of revenge the City Council and the city manager did away with our longtime city seal. It is no longer used on City buildings or publications and is being replaced on City vehicles – by that green font. A sad, even embarrassing action that says a lot about this current city manager, the mayor, and city council.
However the worst was yet to come. We now have a new City website – focused on that verbal identity. In what has to be one of the worst designs, almost a parody, of a website. Presented in black, gray, and dull greens, interspersed with green blocks. Welcome to the new Bellaire.
We no longer have a ‘Welcome to Bellaire’ sign at the east entrance on Bellaire Boulevard, nor will you find that sentiment on the home page of the new website.
Don’t you wonder what what it says about Bellaire? And what that new website cost? One more thing – remember that $50,000 leaf logo from Mr. Hofmann’s chosen design team? Check out Google images: b logo with a leaf
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on Welcome To A Lush Grove?
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 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 State of the City presentation on February 4th, then Council Votes 6 to 1 To Proceed With Spruce/Fifth St Project on the 18th
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 →
Posted inGovernment, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 2019 Budget is Adopted – Future Bond Program Planning Session – A Possible $47 million Bond Issue in 2019
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
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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.
Also about the possibility of a decline in the assessed Bellaire property values for 2018 due to the Harvey flood, which would lead to a decline in tax revenues. The City Manager seems to think the total value on the tax rolls will remain the same. We’ll know more in late August when the final numbers are distributed by Harris County.
Council member David Montague had some questions during the Council meeting, and he’s certainly paying attention. He noticed that the cost for a proposed $1.3 million dollar sidewalk project had ballooned to a $1.8 million contract for 15 blocks, which he then pointed out was almost half the $4 million from the bond issue that was supposed to cover 50 blocks. Someone actually questioning costs!
Public Works director Michael Leech could provide no explanation for the increased cost. Later in the meeting Council member Pollard mentioned that projects always seemed to end up costing more than the original proposals.
The $4 million is supposed to be for 4′ wide stand-alone sidewalks like the one proposed for my street, not ones tied to street reconstruction. Mr. Montague said what he heard at the earlier meeting was that a lot of people opposed plain sidewalks as well as Pathways. That’s when the Mayor suggested that considering how many people have objected to these sidewalks, coupled with the need for more pressing street and drainage projects, the $4 million might be better spent on those.
The vote was 4-3 to postpone a vote on the $1.8 million dollar sidewalk contract until more input is gathered from the community about sidewalks in general. Mayor Friedberg, Neil Verma, Pat McLaughlan, and David Montague voted to postpone it.
Gus Pappas, Patricia Pollard, and Michael Fife voted to proceed. Council member Fife opined that a “number of the comments they had heard last week were from people knocking on doors getting people riled up with information that was not strictly correct. Some well informed and some less than well informed” However the plans and the costs speak for themselves. She also stated that Council didn’t hear from people with small children who couldn’t make the meeting. Guess she forgot about all the emails.
You can always submit comments to the Mayor and Council by sending them to City Clerk Tracy Dutton at email@example.com and request that they be forwarded to Council. Let them know what you think!
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 →
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Do We Need A Revolving Door At The New City Hall?
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
Ever wonder if the $50,000 Branding Study has gone away? Despite the tepid to downright comical response to the meaningless logo presented to City Council in January 2018, there’s been no word from the City that the contract with the firm engaged to provide the study, Principle, has been terminated. Continue reading →
This excerpt is from the most recent City newsletter, The Boulevard:
Group C Phase II: Streets, Drainage and Sidewalks project – There are five street blocks identified in this project. Three of the street blocks are adjacent to the HEB area and will have wide sidewalks, landscaping, trees, irrigation, streetlights, and on‐street parking.A waterline was added to this project after identification in the condition assessment for Proposition Three. Construction is estimated to begin this fall.
This is a link to an article in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle (April 1, 2018) that issues a warning about our flood plain maps and our future under the new normal of climate change. You can find information on Bellaire’s flood permit process and flood mitigation task force under Floods in the main menu.
In Harvey’s deluge, most damaged homes were outside the flood plain, new data show
When Bellaire voters approved a bond issue for $24 million dollars for Streets, Drainage, and Sidewalks with the explanation that ‘Projects will address replacement of streets and drainage systems in order to reduce the occurrence of flooding and improve street conditions’ they probably thought the City would install new storm sewers, replace corroded water lines, repave tired streets, rebuild damaged curbs, and complete a contiguous sidewalk along at least one side of every street in Bellaire. Continue reading →
As of 2016 the City of Bellaire had over $104 million dollars in outstanding debt, $5600 per person, which is much higher than any of the surrounding municipalities. Almost a quarter of the of the City budget, about $9 million, will go out on debt service this year, and there’s mention of another bond issue in 2019. Continue reading →
Posted inGovernment|Comments Off on How Does the City of Bellaire Spend Taxpayer Money?
Mentioning bonds in a prior post, I wondered where the City or Council planned to find the $8 million plus for Pathways or the $4.1 million for the Spruce Street upgrade. In 2016 Bellaire voters approved the sale of $54 million in bonds. Continue reading →
Posted inPublic Works|Comments Off on What was included in the 2016 Bellaire Bond Election?
Are you aware of the Branding Study? Over $50,000 has been spent as of March 15th but the cost could climb! The result was a new logo to replace our longtime and much loved one. It’s a B with a leaf and it was very unpopular with most residents who spoke to Council. Resident responses ranged from “a child could have done a better job” to anatomical references and a giant tongue. For now Council has agreed to shelve this idea, but another iteration will probably be presented. Recently Council did adopt a font and verbal identity from the study. More information and documents on this study, including the contract that contains possible charges, can be found under the Studies link
What do you think? Email email@example.com and request that your message be forwarded to the Mayor and members of City Council.
What about the Pathways Plan? If you thought this was just for sidewalks you’re in for a surprise. The price tag on this study could be $8 million or more and add 8 ft wide walk/bike paths throughout the City, along Baldwin Avenue, for instance. Plus the cost for sidewalks. Council has postponed discussion on this plan until May. The downloads and maps can be found under the Studies link.
What do you think? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request that your message be forwarded to the Mayor and members of City Council.
And coming up for Council’s consideration on Monday, March 19th, is a presentation for the Spruce and Fifth Street Design Considerations. Spruce_St&Fifth_Considerations . This presentation contends there will be no financial impact because the cost, I guess, is contained in the bond monies from the 2016 bond election. Is this how you thought the bond money would be spent?
What’s not mentioned is the impact on the long-time business owners along the north side of the 5100 and 5200 blocks of Spruce and the small bakery on Fifth St. How will the large delivery trucks to HEB navigate in this narrow space?
Also not mentioned is the estimated cost, which was revealed to be about $4.1 million. Mention was made that part of this amount was something about the 4500 block of Maple and Bolivar. Nothing about these streets was shown in the presentation. This presentation is a curious mix of several recent studies. On the map in the presentation the 5100 block of Laurel is still shown, old swimming pool and all, and somehow a second Locust Street shows up running along the alley behind the Shipley’s and Sherwin Williams stores.
I’m concerned there may be some hidden agenda behind this, what do you think? More on this later, along with the zoning changes that Council passed in 2013 for this area.
What do you think? Email email@example.com and request that your message be forwarded to the Mayor and members of City Council.
Posted inHome, Posts|Comments Off on Branding, Pathways, Spruce St – What’s Up at Bellaire City Council?
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Leaks at or near water meters have been reported around town. City crews make repairs for some residents, but others are advised to call a plumber. Check with the City, ask if Siemens is responsible for the repair. Find more information on the Siemens contract under City Studies on the main menu. If you know of any leaks please let me know via Contact.
100 Years of Bellaire History!
Click on the Trolley to view the Table of Contents for Lynn McBee’s history of Bellaire.
According to the City manager and staff our longtime City logo, representing Bellaire as a City of Homes, will soon be gone, thanks to City Council and the $50,000 branding study. Read more here.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
3-20-2019: They are finally working on the mess at the corner. A lot of heavy equipment, looks expensive! The scene (above left) is the southeast corner of South Rice and Fournace. It has been in this condition since summer of 2018, boards covering an excavation and mudhole. The day after I sent the photo to members of city council on 12/3/18 the orange netting was installed (upper right). No further action as of 1/26/19, just the netting.
An Aid to Understanding Our Flooding Problems
HOUSTON A YEAR AFTER HARVEY: WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE NEED TO BE