Dear Bellaire Resident,
Please contact Bellaire council members regarding the Spruce/Fifth streetscape project. Council needs to hear from others – not just the business/property owners. Here are a few points you can pass on:
The Spruce/Fifth St. construction project was put out to bid in mid-December 2018, before the final design of the project was approved by to council.
The project was presented to council on Jan. 7, 2019, but not as an action item. COUNCIL HAS NEVER VOTED TO APPROVE THIS PROJECT! But Council is scheduled to approve the bid on Feb. 18, 2019.
During the Jan. 7 presentation, Spruce/Fifth businesses were not allowed to comment on the project. Those businesses had not been allowed to even see the final plans before they were brought to council. Each time businesses asked to see them, they were told the plans were not complete, even though the city was asking for bids.
On Jan. 21, businesses made a presentation to council as part of public comments. Under council rules, no councilmember may ask a question or otherwise interact with those presenting public comments – so once again the business owners were shut out.
Although the Comprehensive Plan calls for a traffic study regarding such a project, none has been done. Businesses started calling for a traffic study a year ago but their request has been ignored.
Council told city staff to involve businesses in plan development in March last year, but to date that has not happened. Businesses have simply been told what is going to happen – whether they like it or not.
At a meeting in May, 2018, businesses made it clear that they 100% opposed narrowing Spruce and Fifth Streets and they opposed the angled parking that was proposed. City engineer James Andrews told them that if they didn’t want that angled parking, it could be taken out. It was not taken out. It is of note that Mr. Andrews seems to no longer be involved in the planning.
Businesses endorse repairing/repaving the streets, which were damaged during construction of the Bellaire HEB. They endorse new street lighting; street lights were taken down during construction of the new HEB. They endorse improved drainage, although they point out that measures taken during the HEB construction seem to have alleviated flooding in that area. None of the businesses flooded during Harvey.
100% of the property and business owners oppose narrowing the street, angled parking, curbs which limit access to their private parking.
HEB is being penalized by the city for building their new store. HEB brings fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood to the store on a daily basis; their smaller purveyors also deliver daily. All of these deliveries are made on Spruce St., which the city wants to narrow to the size of a residential street. But HEB will be penalized for trucks blocking the street if the street is narrowed. It is a huge problem for HEB.
HEB was originally slated to put in sidewalks and landscaping on Spruce and Fifth Streets. But the city was not ready to repair/repave the street when the store opened in June, 2018, so a new agreement was made. Under the new agreement, HEB would pave the street where its 18-wheelers must “stage” to unload; the city would do the sidewalks, curbs and landscaping. To date, the city has not made good on its agreement, causing a muddy, sandy area on the north side of the HEB building. Trucks get stuck in this area; heavy duty wreckers have to pull them out. It looks terrible. No one can walk on the north side of the HEB building. And so HEB is now paying for metal plates to cover the problem area.
Bids for the project were opened last week. They ranged from $2.351 million to $3.939 million. The lowest bid includes $360,448 for the landscaping/beautification that businesses don’t want. Council will vote on the bids on Feb. 18.
The bottom line : the city needs to pull back from its hurry to do this project. They need to do the traffic study. They need to honor the wishes of the businesses who are there.
This situation is akin to other issues which have come before council this year, i.e. logos, pathways and stand-alone sidewalks. People were outraged at those projects being crammed down their throats. Council ultimately relented. We need people to contact council members and tell them to stop this project too. UPDATE: On February 18, 2019, the Bellaire City Council approved this project by a 6 to 1 vote. No traffic impact study was requested.
Thank you for your consideration and support,
Spruce and Fifth Street Business Owners
Please Email the Mayor and members of City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that your email be forwarded to the Mayor and Council
Find more information on this proposed project here. https://www.bellairecivicclub.com/not-in-my-backyard-but-the-city-manager-just-wont-give-up-why/