There are a number of areas around Houston that chronically flood. One of these is south of the Katy Freeway near Memorial City. The City for years allowed intensive development along the freeway without requiring sufficient detention. As a result, neighborhoods to the south began flooding as storm runoff makes its way to Buffalo Bayou. Everyone has agreed that we need to build more detention in the area to compensate for the failure to do so in the past.
On numerous occasions, Turner has mentioned a “West Houston” detention project to address the problems in that area. The project to which he was referring is a proposal to place detention under the athletic fields at Memorial Middle School, which is one of the few large open tracts in the area.
As late as his press conference after the Council meeting yesterday, Turner referred to the project, implying that the City was just waiting on federal funding to complete it. He said the same thing in his “State of the City” address. Flood czar Steve Costello repeated the same refrain at a meeting of the Bayou City Initiative and Chief Economic Development Officer Andy Icken brought it up at a meeting of real estate executives I recently attended.
From the presentations I saw (and I am sure there have been many others) the audiences were left with the impression that the City had done all the work to complete this project and the only delay was because of a lack of federal funding.
As it turns out, not so much.
Late last week, the Spring Branch school district sent a letter to the City inquiring about the status of the project. The letter read, in part:
“The District has not been presented with a proposal that details the nature of any proposed project. . . The District has reached out, particularly to the City, every few months for the last couple of years to determine the likelihood of receiving such a proposal. To date, our understanding from the City is that the use of the District’s property is just one of many possibilities under consideration . . .”
And get this:
“District officials have received comments and input that suggest that at least some of the members of our community are under the impression that plans to utilize the District property for detention are more concrete and have developed to a significantly greater degree than the District believes is the case.” [Click here to read the entire letter.]
I wonder where some members of the community could have gotten that impression?
The letter goes on to outline several significant practical and financial obstacles to using the District’s property for detention. While SBISD expresses its willingness to work with the City, their letter leaves the distinct impression such a project is highly unlikely.
This is standard operating procedure for the Turner administration. Unable to manage any of the real work that needs to be done, it makes up accomplishments and exaggerates the paltry work it has actually done.
The next time a flood comes we will need real, not imaginary detention. It would be nice if we had a mayor that worked on real solutions to our flooding instead of flooding us with hype and imaginary projects.
I have laid out a seven-point plan to reduce flooding in Houston. [Click here to read my flood plan.] If we adopt and follow this plan consistently in the future it will be dramatically reduce the number of homes and businesses that are flooded in future storms.
Join our campaign and help me bring real solutions to Houston’s problems.