Bellaire City Council faced a large crowd of Bellaire residents who turned out for the August 6, 2018, City Council meeting. The Council chambers and the City Hall atrium were full, and resident after resident spoke their mind on the Pathways Plan. Mayor Friedberg explained that no vote could be held that night, but that didn’t matter. The meeting ended around 12:30 AM.
By my count all but two speakers spoke against the plan. Running through the commentary were some common themes – no reason to try to retrofit 6 or 8 foot pathways in residential yards; more concrete leads to more flooding; preserve our trees and landscape; we’re a small town, not meant to be a planned community.
The cost of the project and the spending habits of the City Council and the City manager were mentioned, especially while many residents are still out of their flooded homes. Flood mitigation was high on the list for folks, as was the lack of communication by the City.
The City Manager gave a brief presentation of the Plan and everyone with the City explained it was just a concept, not a plan, and that there was no funding in place – despite the plans that were previously presented to several City boards and commissions for approval, none of whom supported it.
Rather than bow to public pressure, towards the end his presentation the City Manager expressed the possibility that perhaps the Plan could be modified to allow it to be included in next year’s bond election, and was met with audience comments of “Respectfully, sir, we don’t want it!”
This is a disingenuous way to present a Plan with a $12.5 million dollar base cost, one that would affect a large number of homes and home owners. No public meetings prior to presentation to Council, no notice to property owners who might be affected. Council could just approve a ‘concept’ and move on. Which explains the complaints about problems with communication.
A few residents actively informed other residents about this plan and the word spread via email, local publications, and social media, otherwise this Plan could have been presented to City Council for a vote and quite possibly it could have passed. Hopefully citizens will see a much more transparent process in the future and hopefully they will remain engaged in the political process. There are other projects out there that could stand a closer look.
After patiently listening to over 50 speakers, and well after midnight, Council decided to pack up the Pathways Plan and put it on a shelf, hopefully to gather dust forever.
View a video of the August 6, 2018, meeting here:
You can email your thoughts on this or any other City issue to the Mayor and City Council via an email to our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that it be forwarded to members of Council.