After a quiet Labor Day things are picking up at City Hall.
UPDATE 9/15/2020: City Council voted not to pursue this application this time. But it may be back on the agenda in the future.
Tonight’s City Council meeting (9/14/2020) includes an agenda item posted by Development Services to submit an application for a Community Development Block Grant to finance the abandonment of our wastewater treatment plant. See my letter about this item at the end of this article. Here’s a link to the full agenda.
Find an in-depth article on the Siemens Contract here.
Moving on, this Thursday, 9/17/2020, the Board of Adjustment will hear a request from Bissonnet Street Ventures LLC, for a change in zoning for the 1.99 acre property at the southwest corner of Bissonnet and Loop 610. Find the agenda for that meeting here. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may want to request that your correspondence be included in the meeting minutes.
Then on Monday, 9/21/2020, City Council is scheduled to hold a Public Hearing on the HISD request to add a second baseball field to the old Gordon Elementary property, located at the corner of Bissonnet and Avenue B. Find an earlier article here.
Regarding the illegal parking lot at 4300 Bellaire Blvd, Evelyn’s Park Conservancy chose not to submit their zoning requests to Planning and Zoning for the September 10, 2020, meeting. No explanation was provided, but apparently they are examining their options for the parking lot. Find the latest article here.
Dear Mayor and Members of the Bellaire City Council,
Regarding the proposal by the interim City Manager to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to abandon our City wastewater treatment plant and provide alternate options, I believe it would be a waste of City staff’s time and effort to prepare such an application, and another waste of money for something we don’t need. I fervently request that you not approve this request.
The Siemens contract was promoted just 4 years ago, in 2016, by then City Manager Paul Hofmann and Public Works Director Brant Gary, and approved by six members of Council. Of the $12.8 million dollars Bellaire taxpayers owe for the bonds to finance the Siemens project, $7.5 million is for upgrades and replacement equipment at the wastewater plant. Demolition of the wastewater plant doesn’t erase that debt.
Unless an alternate site exists inside the city limits of Bellaire, the logical relocation of our wastewater plant would be to connect to the City of Houston wastewater plant at 4211 Beechnut. This move was suggested by residents in hearings in 2016 and was not considered feasible by the City staff.
Why would the City of Bellaire now choose to become dependent on an outside vendor and location for our wastewater treatment? What sort of control would Bellaire have over future fees and charges from the City of Houston? What about long term? What happens if Houston were to relocate the Beechnut plant? And that’s just for starters.
Then there are the terms of the Siemens contract that require the City to oversee and maintain the water meters and the wastewater equipment. “In order to maintain the Siemens guarantee for this project the City must adhere exactly to the terms of the contract and pay the annual fee to Siemens for project management and performance assurance for the next 20 years.” Will the cost remain the same?
Finally, the project was scheduled for close out by City Council in June of 2019. We’re in September of 2020, Siemens has already received over $12 million, and and the project has still not closed out. Why? What’s going on? We’re talking about $12.8 million dollars! And who recommended another $3 million dollars worth of upgrades and improvements to the plant? Siemens?
I suggest that it’s time to call in an independent company, one well qualified and with whom the City has no past connection, to inspect the wastewater plant improvements, the condition of the equipment, and the quality of the work that has been performed to date.
Emails to the Mayor and Bellaire City Council can be sent via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at email@example.com. Request that they be forwarded to the Mayor and members of City Council.