BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 10 FEB. 4MARCH 1, 2021
In pursuit of equity A study in Harris County released in October shows a disparity in how the county selects rms to contract with on its projects.
Non-minority or non-women business enterprises*
White women- owned
*INCLUDES PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES, EMPLOYEEOWNED COMPANIES
Weighted availability for county contracts
Ownership of the companies to receive county contracts (by dollar)
Between scal year 2015-16 and rst quarter 2019, Harris County approved: 478 prime contracts worth $980.2 million 1,433 subcontracts worth $280.5 million
The utilization of minority- and women-owned business enterprises divided by availability
10.7% 8.4% 5.9% 3%
A ratio of 80% or lower suggests discriminatory barriers.
SOURCES: HARRIS COUNTY, COLLETTE HOLT & ASSOCIATESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
West U street drainage plans in theworks
Neweort to track economic equity inHarris County A new department in Harris County set to launch in March will seek to bring a sense of equity to economic development across the county. The initiative comes at a time when county ocials are making equity a primary focus in a variety of conversations over spending, including mobility, ood control and public health. The Department of Equity and Eco- nomic Opportunity is the culmination of two years of research, community input and stakeholder meetings, said Sasha Legette, a member of the Har- ris County Precinct 1 policy team that played an instrumental role in getting the project o the ground. In the long term, ocials said they hope to develop policies and programs CONTINUED ON 16 BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
The city of Bellaire is one of many in Texas that has taken onmore debt in recent years to deliver infrastructure improvements, but at least one city leader would like to see its borrowing curtailed. “My attitude is very simple,” Council Member Nathan Wesely said. “Look, we’ve done all these big projects. Why don’t we just take a step back and pay down our debt?” This comes as the city of Bellaire reported over $127 mil- lion in total debt as of Sept. 30—almost double the level CONTINUED ON 18 Bellaire council members want newapproach to debt BY HUNTER MARROW
Bellaire taxpayers are contributing twice as much in debt service since 2010 as the city invested in infrastructure. Doubling down on debt
BLACK HISTORY GUIDE
Increase in annual debt service tax per median household: Bellaire’s total debt increased by: $643.37 $60.8M
From 2010 to 2019:
a 91% increase
a 107% increase
SOURCES: CITY OF BELLAIRE, HARRIS COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding
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COURTESY HERMANN PARK CONSERVANCY
6 Michelin-star chefs are expanding their New York City restaurants to new locations in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston. Chef Jonathan Benno’s Cafe Leonelli will offer traditional Italian cuisine showcas- ing local and seasonal ingredients. The cafe will also feature Italian pastries from Salvatore Martone—also a Michelin star honoree—as well as Martone’s ice cream shop, Frohzen. Chef Alain Verzeroli’s Le Jardinier will bring French culinary tech- niques with a focus on using ingredients in their peak seasonal form and working closely with local partners. Cafe Leonelli is slated for opening in March followed by Le Jardinier in April. Both will take up res- idence in the new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. www.mfah.org 7 Texans Fit , a state-of-the-art gym developed by partners Mark Mastrov and the Houston Texans, will open a new location this spring in Meyerland Plaza, 8650 Endicott Lane, Houston. The gym will mark the third Texans Fit location, following openings in fall 2020 in Katy and Rosenberg. Each Texans Fit loca- tion is newly renovated with more than 36,000 square feet of fitness equipment and trainers to accommodate mem- bers’ individual fitness goals. Texans Fit Meyerland will include a large indoor training turf, boutique-style fitness, and high-intensity interval training classes, and a recovery lounge offering amenities such as NormaTec and HydroMassage. www.texansfit.com 8 Leaf & Grain, a Houston-based salad and grain bowl restaurant, will expand for the first time outside of downtown, opening up a location at 5525 Weslayan St., Houston. The restaurant has not yet
S. POST OAK RD.
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NOWOPEN 1 The Bagel Shop Bakery began accept- ing customers at its long-awaited loca- tion at 5422 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, on Dec. 30. The 45-year-old bakery, which is Houston Kashruth- and Mehadrin Kashrus of Texas-certified, marks a milestone in its yearlong expansion process alongside the New York Deli & Coffee Shop, which is also slated to open in an expanded dining room next door in 2021. The new bakery location will allow for counter service and patio seating. Along with its staple bakery offerings, the menu includes new items, such as a falafel burger, the Elvis Schmelvish bagel sandwich and deep- fried blintzes. Food Network veteran Roshni Gurnani is serving as executive chef, and chef Adriana Soto is serving as kitchen supervisor. The bagel bakery and the deli will also continue to operate in its original Meyerland location at 9720 Hillcroft St., Houston. www.nybagelsandcoffee.com
2 TIRR Memorial Hermann opened a new pediatric inpatient rehabilitation unit in December at its Texas Medical Center campus, 1333 Moursund St., Houston. The new unit consists of eight patient beds customized to meet the rehabilitation needs of patients as young as 6 months. Patient rooms have been remodeled to accommodate pediatric patients’ needs, including new furnishings, a redesigned gym with pediatric equipment, and a refreshed look with child-friendly murals and designs. Patients receive customized rehabilitation provided by pediatric-certi- fied therapists, physicians and nurses, as well as access to other services. 800-447-3422. www.memorialhermann.org 3 A new cafe called Ginger Kale opened in Hermann Park at 6104 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, in October. The cafe offers burgers, sandwiches, salads, chia puddings, acai bowls, cold-pressed juices and more either in a sit-down setting or
4 Bellaire Shoe Repair , at 5204 Bellaire Blvd., has opened a consignment store next to its shoe repair shop, offering secondhand items to customers. The consignment store acts as an extension of the shoe repair shop, which offers shoe repair, boot repair, custom boots, hand- bags, purses, belts, buckles and more. 713-665-9071 COMING SOON 5 Once a New York City food truck, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will come to Rice Village in spring 2021 as part of a national brick-and-mortar expansion. Located at 2565 Amherst St., Houston, the ice cream shop will offer over 30 dairy-based as well as vegan-friendly ice creams, with flavors like chocolate fudge brownie and cookie crumble strawberry jam. The Rice Village location will also have a new flavor inspired by Texas. Van Leeuwen ice creams are also available for order online and at H-E-B and Sprouts grocery stores. https://vanleeuwenicecream.com
to go. 713-429-5238. www.gingerkale.com
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Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Cafe Leonelli & Le Jardinier
COURTESY VAN LEEUWEN
COURTESY SHANNON O’HARA/BASTION RESTAURANTS
announced an opening date. www.eatlg.com RELOCATIONS
features, including a toddler sand area that incorporates a sail boat, a playhouse, sand diggers and buried fossils. Recom- mendations for the improvements came from a combination of the parks and rec- reation board, Friends of West University Parks Board, parks and recreation staff, and a citizen user group before being giv- en official approval by the West Universi- ty Place City Council on June 22. www.westutx.gov IN THE NEWS 12 An affiliate of TerraMar Capital LLC and Tiger Capital LLC was selected as the winning bidder during a sales process of Francesca’s Boutique clothing store Jan. 21. For $18 million, TerraMar bought the clothing chain’s core retail locations, its digital expansion and new brand launches. The buyout follows the boutique clothing store’s announcement Dec. 3 that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and implementing a sale process. TerraMar will continue operations for at least 275 Fran- cesca’s boutiques. Francesca’s Rice Village location remains open at 2515 University Blvd. www.francescas.com 13 The board of directors for Evelyn’s Park Conservancy , 4400 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, named Terry Leavitt-Chavez the park’s new director. Leavitt-Chavez had served as interim park administrator since July 1 and has been an active member of the board since June 2015. Her duties will include partnering with the board to establish goals, implement programs to meet community interest and manage the park’s finances. She will work closely with the parks and recreation department to maintain the facilities and grounds.
The Evelyn Rubenstein Community Center broke ground on its $50million project Jan. 31.
HUNTER MARROW/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center has ocially broken ground on its $50 million expansion and renovation project. The community center held a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 31, which included in-person and virtual programming, preceded by morning family activities including spray painting and chalking designated areas that will be part of the expansion’s tear down. “This is a very special moment,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner during the ceremony. “I simply couldn’t imagine Houston without the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.” Renovations include a new 126,000 square-foot, three-story facility, with 27,000 square feet of renovations to the existing center, along with demolition Leavitt-Chavez is the owner and consul- tant of Gallery 3, a contemporary event art gallery. From 1996-2010 she served as director of planning and allocations for Stage Stores Inc., where her focus was on executing strategic initiatives to grow sales. The former director, Patrica King-Ritter, stepped down June 30, 2020. www.evelynspark.org
9 Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Neal R. Reisman moved his practice from the Texas Medical Center campus to 6565 West Loop S., Ste. 101, Bellaire, in January. In practice for over 35 years, Reisman has written and delivered more than 450 journal articles and medical meeting presentations worldwide on a range of topics, from facial rejuvenation to business management and ethics. 713-795-5353. www.drnealreisman.com RENOVATIONS 10 The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston , 5216 Montrose Blvd., has pushed back its planned reopening to Feb. 18, citing rising local cases of COVID-19. The museum has been closed since March 16, though it used the down- time to complete interior renovations. The CAMH originally planned to reopen Jan. 21, unveiling a new exhibit, “Wild Life,” featuring the playful, disjointed works of both painter Elizabeth Murray and sculptor Jessi Reaves. The museum also plans to resume its “Slowed and Throwed” exhibit, featuring photography and new media stemming from the legacy of Houston’s DJ Screw. When it opens, museum hours will be noon-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is free. www.camh.org 11 West University Place’s Colonial Park , 4130 Byron St., Houston, opened in December after undergoing several key renovations. The park now offers new
of the Velva G. and H. Fred Levine Jewish Federation Building to make way for a new building that will go on the north end of the property on the old building’s existing footprint. The community center will remain open through the 20-month construction period and will utilize the Joe Levit Campus on South Braeswood Boulevard and the Mersh Teen Center on South Rice Avenue for ongoing programming and activities. www.erjcchouston.org
S. BRAESWOOD BLVD.
CLOSINGS 14 The Randalls grocery store at 5130 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, will close Feb. 20. The store began liquidating its invento- ry Jan. 13 in anticipation of the closing. Meanwhile, the company said it is working to place as many employees as possible in other locations. 713-667-1167. www.randalls.com
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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
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FEBRUARY THROUGHMAY 31
Jessica Verdi. Brazos Bookstore oers links to buy the young adult books on its website. 4 p.m. Free. 713-523-0701. www.brazosbookstore.com 11 THROUGH 21 ‘THE BOOKOFMAGDALENE’ Main Street Theater’s Rice Village location is hosting a virtual production of Caridad Svich’s “The Book of Magdalene,” a contemporary drama about sharp encounters, winding faith, tough love, and tenderness suused with grace and magic. Tickets are available online Feb. 11-21 and must be purchased by 4 p.m. to receive the access code by 5 p.m. the same day. $20-$54 per ticket. 713-524-3622. www.mainstreettheater.com 13 THROUGH 23 LIVE FROMWORTHAM CENTER: BACH&VIVALDI Those looking for a taste of some Baroque music can do so from the comfort of their own home when the Mercury Chamber Orchestra brings a virtual program featuring concertos by Vivaldi and Bach, all performed by concertmaster Jonathan Godfrey, principal cellist Beiliang Zhu, and principal bassoonist Nate Helgeson. The show will premiere at 8 p.m. Feb. 13 and can be streamed through Feb. 21. $20. 713-533-0080. www.mercuryhouston.org
BODYWORLDS &THE CYCLE OF LIFE The Houston Museum of Natural Science brings an exhibit that oers a look at the inner workings of the human body and the eects of health habits and lifestyle choices with more than 100 preserved human specimens. $30 (nonmember adults), $21 (nonmember children), $15 (members). 713-639-4629. www.hmns.org 06 TREE IDWALK The Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center is hosting nature walks for the entire family on the rst Saturdays of every month. Jim McKee, master naturalist, tree lover and bird watcher, will lead walks to teach visitors how to identify the trees that live in Russ Pitman Park. 10 a.m. Free. 713-667-6550. www.naturediscoverycenter.org 08 I READ YA LOVE STORIES PANEL Brazos Bookstore is showcasing a live panel hosted by Scholastic Books’ I Read YA featuring ve young adult authors on its YouTube channel. Aurora Dominguez of Frolic will moderate a discussion on love stories and the romance genre among authors Stephan Lee, Alice Oseman, Debbie Rigaud, Lucas Rocha and
TAPAS ON THE TRAILS HOUSTON ARBORETUM & NATURE CENTER
SPRING EXHIBITIONS MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON
The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center oers an outdoor experience featuring small gourmet dishes paired with wines from around the world, all enjoyed on a romantic walk. 5-7 p.m. $95 (members). $105 (nonmembers). Ages 21 and older. 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston. 713-681-8433. www.houstonarboretum.org ULTIMATE FRISBEE AT ERJCC Children of all ages can get outdoors for some team fun at Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center’s Mersh Teen Center with ultimate frisbee. By registering through the community 14 AND 28
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston opens two new exhibits: “Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature,” featuring David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh, and “Electrifying Design: A Century of Lighting,” tracing the use of light. Prices vary. 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston. 713-639-7300. www.mfah.org center’s website, children and teenagers can participate in the fast-paced, noncontact team sport. 2 p.m. (eighth to 12th grades), 3:15 p.m. (fourth to seventh grades). Free. 713-729-3200. www.erjcchouston.org
Find more or submit local events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
COMPILED BY HUNTER MARROW
Engineers are developing proposals to improve streets and drainage in two sections of West University Place. Study areas Replacements: Street Storm sewer Street and storm sewer
N. BRAESWOOD BLVD.
West University Place city limits
S. BRAESWOOD BLVD.
South Rice/Chimney Rock bridges Construction of bridges over Brays Bayou at South Rice Avenue and Chimney Rock is set to begin in early February. The existing bridges will be demolished after two higher, longer, wider bridges are constructed. Seg- ments of the bridges will remain open during construction with temporary lane closures in eect. The project is part of the $480 million Project Brays. Timeline: February-December Cost: $11 million (each) Funding sources: Harris County Flood Control District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Bualo Speedway improvements The Texas Department of Transpor- tation selected SER Construction Partners LLC for the Bualo Speedway street and drainage improvements. The project, in partnership with the city of West University Place, remains on schedule. Timeline: October 2018-2023 Cost: $32.56 million Funding sources: city of West Univer- sity Place, TxDOT, federal grants Panel replacement on Chimney Rock The cities of Houston and Bellaire are replacing failing concrete panels along Chimney Rock Road to extend the life of the roadway and delay the need for a street overhaul. Failing is dened as cracking, potholes, settlement and other issues. Each city has hired its own contractor to work within the cit- ies’ respective city limits. The project area extends from Bissonnet Street to Beechnut Street. Timeline: November 2020- March 2021 Cost: $1.56 million (combined) Funding sources: city of Houston, city of Bellaire Hillcroft Avenue safety project A project to improve the safety of Hillcroft Avenue is set to begin early February. Contractors will tackle the project on behalf of Houston Public Works Department focusing on three areas. First, a section of Hillcroft from Bellaire Boulevard to High Star Drive will be redesigned, with widened side- walks and new bike lanes. The second area will redesign the intersection of Hillcroft Avenue at High Star Drive and Westward Street, along with a new pedestrian plaza. Pedestrian trac signals will be added, along with crosswalks and bicycle accommo- dations. The third area will focus on Westward Street with 10-foot shared- use paths and 6-foot sidewalks.
W. HOLCOMBE BLVD.
MAP NOT TO SCALE N
SOURCE: CITY OF WEST UNIVERSITY PLACECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
West Umoves forward on street drainage plan
In December, West University Place City Council approved two contractors to address how the city can meet the minimum standard for a two-year storm design across its roads and drainage infrastructure. The vote comes after the city com- pleted a hydraulic model study with recommendations for improvements presented to and approved by City Council in July 2020. The report will further investigate the assessments made in that study, identify a scope of work, evaluate alternatives and develop cost estimates. The project’s scope was divided into two sections covering both ends of the city. The city awarded a $365,000 contract to HDR Engineering to per- formwork on the city’s east side, and
a $1.05 million contract was awarded to Cobb, Fendley & Associates, Inc. for a larger swath of streets on the city’s west side. The preliminary report will be the second of four phases in a yearslong endeavor by the city to improve its infrastructure. Work on the engineer- ing report on the west side began Feb. 3. The east side, meanwhile, is expected to be nalized by July. Design work will follow completion of the report, with construction following that. Should the project remain on schedule, the city may not see construction begin until the end of 2022. “This is a major step towards a reinvestment in the infrastructure,” City Manager Dave Beach told the City Council in December.
Roadwork to replace failing sections of Chimney Rock is underway.
HIGH STAR DR.
Bellaire looks to bring engineering in-house
ARKK Engineers has served as Bel- laire’s engineer on record since 2012, but on Jan. 6, the city council put the rm on notice that it may be winding down its services. The council renewed its contract for $62,500 for 10 months through November 2021, but in a 4-3 vote the council also added a provision that the contract could be canceled by either party with 30 days’ notice. Bellaire sta will present plans to
City Council later in the year on how to bring engineering services in house, according to the agenda report. ARKK is in the midst of developing plans for the Bellaire Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force. “That plan is about halfway done,” said James Andrews, ARKK’s engineer on record, during the meeting. “There have been some concepts put out there, but there is nothing that has been nalized.”
Timeline: early Feburary 2020-late summer 2021 Cost: $4 million Funding sources: city of Houston, Southwest Houston Redevelopment Authority
ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UP TO DATE AS OF FEB. 1. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT BMWNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.
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News from Houston ISD
COMPILED BY MATT DULIN
The Houston ISD board of education next meets at 5 p.m. Feb. 4 for agenda review followed by a regular meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 11. Meetings are streamed live at www.houstonisd.org MEETINGSWE COVER Total active COVID-19 cases among HISD students and staff as of Jan. 31 624 NUMBER TOKNOW HIGHLIGHTS JAN. 25 The district resumed all athletic and UIL events after being on hiatus for about two weeks amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. JAN. 21 District 4 trustee Patricia Allen, a former principal and educator who worked for HISD for 35 years, was elected president of the board of trustees after an initial vote did not result in a clear winner. The president oversees the trustees’ meetings. JAN. 14 State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw and 34 fellow state representatives signed a letter asking Gov. Greg Abbott to prioritize public school employees in the next vaccine distribution group.
Survey tracks students’ basic needs for health care, supplies HOUSTON ISD A new report from Rice University’s Houston
reported having trouble paying their rent or mortgage, and 1 in 6 reported difficulty covering their utility bills. A similar proportion of parents reported they struggled with provid- ing clothing and supplies. Nearly 13% of parents reported they could not take their child to the doctor when they are sick. Almost 20%were unable to provide annual dental checkups, and about 40% did
not get annual vision checkups for their children. One in 5 students said they missed class regularly for mental health reasons. The researchers conducted the study to help inform the district’s wraparound program, which strives to help serve students’ social and emotional needs. A total of 51,769 students, 5,305 parents and 4,698 teachers completed the survey.
Education Research Consortium has documented some of the challenges Houston ISD students face outside the classroom. Based on surveys conducted in 2019, researchers found significant gaps in access to adequate food, health care and school supplies. More than a quarter of families
NECESSITIES LAID BARE Surveys of parents and students in Houston ISD conducted before COVID-19 found significant challenges in covering everyday necessities in some households.
Average school supply needs
Average housing and food insecurities
Trouble buying school supplies
Sometimes not able to pay rent/mortgage
Trouble buying school clothes
Utilities have been turned off this year
Sometimes hungry because limited food at home Lack access to computer/internet at home
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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
News from Bellaire, West University Place, Houston & Harris County
Commission to vote on creation of northBellaire zoning district
BY HUNTER MARROW
on the site. If recommended by the commission during its Feb. 11 meeting and formally adopted by City Council, the new North Bellaire Special Development District would allow for a range of uses, frommovie theaters to restaurants to doctor’s oces. Eight members of the public spoke at the hearing, with a mix of support and opposition. “I’m really looking forward to some new things happening in Bellaire on one hand, but on the other hand, I’m very concerned about what’s going on with a few issues,” resident Shelly Webb said. Flooding, trac, building setbacks and deed restrictions were some of Webb’s concerns, which the commis- sion listed as items to consider. Others had a positive outlook. “I think the redevelopment will enhance the city, and I’m glad to see there is sound and thoughtful planning for current and future development plans,” Bellaire resident Neal Kaminsky said. “It will make us a
BELLAIRE The Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission will soon vote on a recommendation to City Council for a new zoning district at the former Chevron campus at 4800 Fournace Place. Key to that recommendation is the feedback the commission received from the public during its Jan. 14 public hearing as it continues working on zoning amendments that will transition the property into a more viable commercial opportunity. “We are not actually considering a specic application,” commission Chair Ross Gordon said during the meeting, referencing a request by SLS West Loop LP to develop a 33-acre plot on that stretch of land. “This is just establishing the framework by which an application could be submitted and the minimum requirements to be included in that application.” The district’s previous zoning was a technical research park, which limits the potential permitted uses
The proposed North Bellaire Special Development District located at the former Chevron campus at 4800 Fournace Place is in the review process by Bellaire’s Planning and Zoning Commission. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
more modern community.” When the commission revisits the item Feb. 11, it will consider the following changes to the ordinance: resolving preferences on including assisted living and nursing home in the zoning, incorporating language to limit uses to what is allowed by deed restrictions, considering a larger minimum setback and highlighting the importance of mitigation of stormwater runo. The commission has been working
with urban planning rm Kendig Keast Collaborative over the past year to formulate the special development district’s guidelines. SLS West Loop has owned the property since 2018.
Studymeasures neighborhood climates
Developer sues city over parking lot snafu
BY EMMA WHALEN
BY HUNTER MARROW
a suit Dec. 7 seeking to block the city’s order to demolish the lot. Judge Donna Roth agreed to issue a temporary restraining order to give all the parties involved time to resolve the dispute or proceed with the case. Under the restraining order, the city cannot demolish the parking lot, nor can it ne MM Bellaire One for failing to do so. According to its lawsuit, MM Bellaire One spent $300,000 constructing the parking lot.
temperatures. “Science shows that there is real potential to reshape our built environment and cool our cities down where it’s needed most,” said Suzanne Scott, the state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, in a news release. To address these discrepancies, city leaders will consider adding coordinated tree planting, cooling centers and shade structures in high-heat areas. The study was conducted as a component of a larger eort called Heat Watch, led by climate research rm CAPA Strategies with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Oce. The Houston- and Harris County-area study was also funded by Shell Oil Co. and Lowe’s Companies Inc.
HOUSTON At the same time of day in the Houston area, temperatures can vary by nearly 20 degrees among neighborhoods, according to a new study. The Houston Advanced Research Center, the city of Houston, Harris County Public Health and The Nature Conservancy of Texas pub- lished a map Jan. 5 displaying the range in temperatures collected by 84 volunteers throughout Houston and parts of Harris County on Aug. 7. The Galleria area recorded the hottest temperature at 103 degrees Fahrenheit, diering signicantly from the 86-degree temperature recorded in Channelview at the same time. The study indicated environmen- tal factors such as tree cover and the amount of paved surface area have the greatest eects on recorded
BELLAIRE A Harris County district court held its rst hearing Jan. 27 over a lawsuit brought by MM Bellaire One LLC, the developers for Southside Commons, over the potential demolition of a parking lot the city approved in error. MM Bellaire One is seeking an injunction blocking the order to demolish the parking lot as well as at least $1 million in relief. Evelyn’s Park and city ocials are also named in the lawsuit. “The city is condent in its legal position and has every intention of defending its zoning regula- tions,” Bellaire City Attorney Alan Petrov said. The order to demolish the parking lot came after a zoning amendment request to allow it was voted down 7-0 by City Council on Nov. 16. MM Bellaire One initially led
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
NUMBER TOKNOW Number of vaccine doses the city of Houston was receiving weekly as of Jan. 15 9,000 The ling deadline for applications for a place on the ballot for the West University Place City Council general election on May 1 FEB. 12 DATE TOKNOW CITY HIGHLIGHTS JAN. 25 Bellaire City Council voted to refer to the Planning and Zoning Commission a review of specications for its corridor mixed- use and urban village zones. Part of the impetus was an announcement from Randalls that it will close its Bellaire location Feb. 20. JAN. 25 Bellaire City Council set Feb. 8 as its date to interview Lyle Sumek Associates and Ron Cox Consulting, two rms the council is considering to help with developing consensus in its process to hire a new city manager. JAN. 23 West University Place ended an eight-week pilot program for diverting food waste toward composting eorts. At the midpoint, the city had collected almost 12 tons of food waste from about 350 residents. The city said it will evaluate the feasibility of future programs. JAN. 4 Houston appointed Veronica O. Davis to be its new transportation and drainage director. Davis’ consulting rm helped develop the Vision Zero plans for Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia. JAN. 23 District C City Council Member Abbie Kamin received the COVID-19 vaccine to serve as an example of the vaccine’s safety for pregnant women. Bellaire City Council meets the rst and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at 7008 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire. Meetings are streamed at www.bellairetx.gov. West University Place City Council meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at 3800 University Blvd., Houston. Meetings are available via teleconference. Find details at www.westutx.gov. Houston City Council meets weekly at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday for public comment and 9 a.m. Wednesday for regular business at 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. MEETINGSWE COVER
Houston, Harris County launch separate vaccinewaitlists HARRIS COUNTY Local ocials announced two dierent vaccine waitlist systems Jan. 25, reecting the varying ways Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo are managing distribution while the demand exceeds supply. The Houston Health Department appointments from the 65+ waitlist as well as prioritizing appointments through medical providers in vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, Harris County Public Health continues to oer a waitlist for any resident, including those who are not included in phases 1A and 1B, however only these priority BY EMMA WHALEN VACCINATION NOTIFICATION Sign up to get notied when appointments open at CITYOF HOUSTON
www.houstonemergency.org • A waitlist is available only for those with disabilities or in 1A/1B groups. • Residents over age 65: 832-393-4301 • Residents with disabilities: 832-393-5500
groups are being included in the county’s lottery-style selection process until state guidelines change. Hidalgo said the waitlist encourages equitable distribution. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be like the ‘Hunger Games,’” she said. “It shouldn’t be about who can hit refresh on a browser the fastest.” Turner said, however, the city’s process helps manage expectations. “When you have a very limited supply, I don’t think there is any system that is going to alleviate the frustration,” he said.
is following a rst-come, rst- served approach to scheduling appointments while still adhering to state-mandated priority groups. Appointments for vaccines distributed through the Houston Health Department open when the city receives vaccine shipments. The city set up two waitlist hotlines but shut down its waitlist for those over age 65 on Jan. 29 after it received over 70,000 calls. A city-run waitlist for people with disabilities remains open, however. For the rst two weeks of February, the city is scheduling
Anyone can sign up for the vaccine waitlist at
www.vacstrac.hctx.net. • Only Phase 1A/1B populations are eligible for appointments under state guidelines.
SOURCES: CITY OF HOUSTON, HARRIS COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
With open beds dwindling, ocials look for ways to reduceHarris County jail population
J A I L S N A P S H O T
The Harris County Sheri’s Oce is concerned that overcrowding in the jail will worsen the spread of the coronavirus.
BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
capacity with more than 9,000 inmates and fewer than 70 open beds. Since then, Fogler said the jail population has gone down by several hundred. As of midnight Jan. 26, about 8,800 inmates were being held in the jail, he said. Since Jan. 15, a list of 1,543 inmates was turned over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Oce to be considered for reduced bond. After the oce vetted the list, objections were made for all but 60. Only seven of those 60 had been released as of Jan. 26, Fogler said. Fogler attributed the slow progress to delays in getting hearings set. An executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in March limits the release of inmates during the pandemic by barring inmates accused or previously convicted of violent crimes from being released without bail. However, the order does not block the release of inmates on reduced bail.
HARRIS COUNTY Eleven days after ocials across Harris County’s criminal justice system met to discuss how to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail during the coronavirus pandemic, progress has been “excruciatingly slow,” according to the Harris County Sheri’s Oce. Murray Fogler, an attorney representing the sheri’s oce, provided a status update on eorts to safely release jail inmates at a Jan. 26 hearing with U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who is presiding over an ongoing lawsuit dealing with the county’s felony bail practices. Those eorts are largely focused on vetting roughly 1,900 inmates for release and quickly scheduling reduced bail hearings for inmates that were agreed upon by the sheri’s oce and district attorney. When reduced bail hearings were rst discussed in mid-January, the jail was on the brink of hitting its
As of Jan. 14:
9,087 inmates in jail
87% of inmates are awaiting trial
caused by COVID-19
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS 1,151 inmates • Have no holds and bonds of $10,000 or less • Could see bonds reduced 364 inmates • In jail pretrial for nonviolent oenses • Could be released on personal recognizance bonds 420 inmates • Should be in treatment centers but are being held in jail because centers were closed by pandemic • Could be released until centers reopen SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
A guide to historic sites in the Houston area
Black history Mapping Houston’s heritage From emancipation and Jim Crow to civil rights and renewed calls for social justice, Black history is woven into Houston’s story. Here are some of the places, people and events that serve as testimonies to that story. &
SAULNIER ST. W. DALLAS ST.
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COMPILED BY MATT DULIN DESIGNED BY ANYA GALLANT
EmancipationPark In 1872, the Revs. Jack Yates
Freedmen’s Town This neighborhood just outside
and Elias Dibble partnered with Richard Allen—then one of the few Black repre- sentatives in the Texas Legislature—and Richard Brock—Houston’s first Black city alderman—to raise $1,000 and purchase 10 acres of parkland in the Third Ward to host Juneteenth celebrations. Now a city of Houston park with a dedicated con- servancy overseeing it, the park received a nearly $34 million renovation in 2017. 3018 Emancipation Ave., Houston www.epconservancy.org
downtown in Houston’s Fourth Ward was the first and the largest post-Civil War Black urban community in Texas, taking off as freed slaves fled rural plantations. The residents established schools, built churches, fostered a business community and laid brick roads. While it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, it is not considered a historic district under the city of Houston’s regulations, and only a few dozen remain out of hundreds of original buildings there. Gregory School The building that now houses the Af- rican-American Library at the Gregory School was considered one of the first schools for freed slaves in the area. The land itself was donated by the residents there who had begun to acquire property as they settled the area, according to historical records. It operated as a school in some form from the 1870s until 1980, when Houston ISD closed it and merged its student population with a nearby school to create the Gregory-Lincoln campus. Renovated into a library in 2008-09, it is the city’s first library to focus on African American history, with special collections, galleries, an oral history recording room and reading rooms. 2
MAP NOT TO SCALE N
Schoolboycott Led by the Rev. William Lawson of
Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, students at the city’s five Black high schools skipped class in May 1965 to protest Houston ISD’s slow progress on integration. Hundreds of students also marched from the South Central YMCA in Third Ward to HISD’s downtown headquar- ters. “We will be calling for an end to school segregation at both faculty and student levels, and for the establishment of one good school system—the end of two mediocre ones,” Law- son wrote in a letter to principals.
The first official Black city in Texas, Indepen- dence Heights was incorporated in 1915. The Wright Land Co. led the effort, offering its own financing and allowing people with low incomes to become homeowners. By 1930 it had been annexed by the city of Houston. A historic marker can be found at Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. 7818 N. Main St., Houston The Ensemble Theatre is considered the largest African American theater company in the U.S. It was first founded as The Black Ensemble Co. and was located at 1010 Tuam St. before moving to its present-day location in 1985. The theater continues to serve multi- cultural audiences and train new generations of artists with workshops, in-residence experi- The EnsembleTheatre Founded by George Hawkins in 1976, Infantry Division were assigned to guard the construction of this World War I training camp, located in what is nowMemorial Park. A riot broke out Aug. 23, 1917, sparked by rumors that a Black soldier had been killed by Houston police. When the dust settled, four soldiers, five police officers and 11 others had died. The event resulted in the largest murder trial and court-martial in U.S. history, with 13 Black soldiers sentenced to death and more than 60 others sentenced to life imprisonment. Two subsequent trials resulted in 15 more death sentences for the soldiers, 10 of which were later commuted. The unfair treatment of the accused resulted in reforms of military law that remain in place today. ences and youth camps. 3535 Main St., Houston www.ensemblehouston.com Camp Logan Black soldiers from the 24th 9 10
6 Formally established in 1896 and having its last burial in 1972, this historic cemetery is thought to hold the remains of 5,000 people, most of them former slaves or their descen- dants. Many markers have been lost over the years through vandalism and neglect, but a volunteer association nowmaintains the cemetery, performing regular maintenance and raising funds to restore the remaining headstones, of which about 350 remain. 3525 W. Dallas St., Houston www.collegeparkcemetery.org Frenchtown In the 1920s, a small enclave of Houston’s Fifth Ward became a magnet for hundreds of “Creoles of color”—people of French, Spanish, and African descent from Louisiana. The name Frenchtown stems from the fact that most were also French-speaking Catholics. While much of its heritage has been lost over the years through assimilation, the community is still widely credited as the birth- place of zydeco, a blend of Creole traditional music with Houston blues and R&B. Houston’sfirstsit-in While the site is now a post office, this was formerly the location of a Weingarten’s grocery store, whose lunch counter was the stage for Houston’s first sit-in March 4, 1960. Led by Eldrewey Stearnes, 13 Texas Southern University students participated, spurring a local movement as part of a growing national effort to call for deseg- regation. 4110 Almeda Road, Houston 7
This historic church is the only remaining piece of the east side of the Freedmen’s Town community after it was split up during the construction of I-45. The congregation formed in 1866 and initially held services along the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The building that stands today was built in 1875. The Rev. Jack Yates was the church’s first pastor and a prominent community leader who also
1300 Victor St., Houston www.houstonlibrary.org
TheRutherford B.H. YatesHouse
founded Bethel Baptist Church, Houston Acade- my and College Park Cemetery. 313 Robin St., Houston
Built in 1912 and saved from demolition in 1995, this historic house serves as a small museum for the area and to Ruth- erford Yates, a son of Jack Yates who founded the Yates Printing Co.
in 1922, publishing several newspapers for the Black community. The museum is also working to help restore other structures in the neighborhood. 1314 Andrews St., Houston www.rbhy.org
COURTESY VISIT HOUSTON
COURTESY AFRICAN AMERICAN LIBRARY AT THE GREGORY SCHOOL
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