Contractors Now Working Seven Days Per Week, Dawn to Dusk, on Woodridge Village Detention Ponds

Sunday morning at 8 a.m., Perry contractors we’re busy working on Woodridge Village detention ponds. This came after a Saturday when they stopped working after 6 p.m. Surprisingly, this came even as the threat from Tropical Storm Cristobal moved farther east.

Woodridge Village was implicated in flooding Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice last year. Lack of functional detention ponds was one of the key contributors.

Before/After Shots of N2 Channel

After months of relative inactivity, construction has kicked into high gear. Elm Grove resident Jeff Miller took the two shots below from near Mace Street in Porter.

N2 Channel as of 6/4/2020 in afternoon around 5 p.m.
Same channel on 6/6 around 10 a.m.

That’s a lot of dirt to move in a little more than a day! Below is how the same channel looked from the air on Sunday morning.

Looking north along western perimeter of Woodridge Village at channel that connects detention pond N1 with N2.

Below, you can see the general layout of Woodridge Village detention ponds.

Other Sunday Morning Photos

Since the last update, the focus of most construction activity seems to be on two detention ponds along the development’s western border – N1 and N2. As the photos below show, contractors have expanded both ponds as well as the ditches connecting them.

Expansion of the Woodridge Village N1 Pond
Workers are also deepening and widening N2 toward the left above.

Contractors use dirt from the ponds to raise the areas where homes may be built some day.

Dirt from N1 is moving east toward the new Ford Road entrance.

See new Ford Road Entrance through trees at upper right.
Dirt excavated from N2 in the background is also moving east toward the foreground, which is the base of N3. Note also how the grass planted last winter in the souther section (upper left) has all turned brown. This could present an erosion problem in the future.
Grass in the overflow spillway between the concrete-lined portion of Taylor Gully (left) and detention pond S2 has also died.
Looking NE from over S2. Taylor Gully cuts diagonally through the frame from upper left to lower right. Note the vast expanse of treeless, grassless development on the southwest half of the northern section.

End Game Still Not Settled

The fate of Woodridge Village, which is still mired in lawsuits, has not been settled. Practically speaking, Perry Homes has said it could/would:

  1. Sell the land to Harris County Flood Control District to create a regional floodwater detention facility
  2. Develop the property itself
  3. Sell the property to another developer
Regarding Option 1

At the last Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting, commissioners heaped new demands on the City of Houston. They want the City to actually implement a series of changes related to Atlas-14 in its building codes and ETJ (extra territorial jurisdiction. A mere promise to implement them via an inter-local agreement seems insufficient for the commissioners.

The City must also come up with cash (or land in lieu of cash) to cover half of the construction costs of developing the regional detention basin (not just half of the purchase price of the land). Russ Poppe, Director of Harris County Flood Control estimated the construction costs could total $20 to $30 million, although flood control has reportedly not yet started planning the project.

Regarding Option 2

A web search this morning turned up no new bidding documents for any construction beyond the detention ponds. Previously, Perry Homes and LJA have advertised bid opportunities.

Regarding Option 3

Perry still has a for-sale sign at the Woodland Hills entrance to the property. However, the chances of a third party purchase while lawsuits are pending is remote. Still, the completion of detention ponds makes the property more attractive to another developer with an appetite for risk.

The big problem with Options 2 and 3: Perry Homes rushed to get the plans permitted before Atlas-14. That means, even with detention ponds completed, the detention may not be adequate. Estimates of the shortfall range from 30% to 40%.

As a result, Option 1 provides, by far, the highest margin of safety for flood-weary residents.

Unfortunately, the wheels of government move slowly. Neither the County, nor the City has made a public comment about a possible purchase deal since the last commissioner’s court meeting on May 19. The purchase is not listed on the agenda for the June 9, 2020, meeting.

Posted by Bob Rehak with with thanks to Jeff Miller for photos

1013 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 262 since Imelda