In March, the City of Houston publicly refused to participate financially in any purchase of Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village property. Perry Homes then gave other parties still negotiating (i.e., Harris County) an end-of-month deadline. Perry extended that a week when it appeared that Harris County Commissioners might come up with the cash. However, when the Commissioners failed to reach agreement late last night, Perry resumed construction Wednesday morning.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and HCFCD had hoped to create a large scale detention basin to reduce Elm Grove and East Fork flooding. The resumption of construction makes that less likely now.
Reports Start Flowing In of Massive Construction Activity
All morning, I received reports of construction activity on the site. Near Woodland Hills. Near the N2 detention pond. Near the Webb Street entrance in Porter.
It’s hard to imagine how Perry could react so fast. Then it occurred to me. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe this was in response to promises they made to Mayor Turner last October.
Perry’s Promise to the City
In February, I reported that LJA Engineering was soliciting bids to build the additional detention ponds for Perry mentioned in the letter above. Here is the invitation to bidders.
I also found this record of a City of Houston inspection dated 3/9/2020. It stated that work on the additional detention ponds was supposed to start on 3/16. It didn’t.
But Elm Grove resident Jeff Miller informed me today that Perry had started mobilizing construction equipment last week (see below) near the N1 pond. Thus, all the evidence started to support the theory that Perry was just executing the next phase of its promise to the Mayor when Commissioners failed to reach agreement last night.
Promises and Construction Activity Not Adding Up
One thing doesn’t quite add up, however – where the contractor started working today.
If Perry was fulfilling its promises to Turner, workers should have been excavating detention ponds. But they worked elsewhere, in planned residential areas near Woodland Hills Drive and adjacent to, but not in, the N2 detention pond.
Here are the approved plans for the N2 Detention Pond.
The area labeled N2 in the photo above looks as though it has already been excavated. It was. By Montgomery County 15 years ago. Most likely as offsite detention for another project. According to plans, Perry was supposed to deepen this area to increase detention capacity. It has not yet done so. And that may have contributed to Elm Grove flooding.
However, instead of starting to deepen the pond today, or excavate N1 as Perry’s letter suggested they would, workers appeared to focus elsewhere. They worked on the other side of the tree line that separates N2 from the residential area. See above and below.
More Theories Than Answers At This Point
There’s no telling what’s going on. LJA, Perry and the City have not returned calls. The County was strangely silent today when notified of the construction activity.
- Is Perry expanding the detention pond to comply with Atlas-14 standards? That would be a pleasant surprise!
- If Perry planned to extend the N2 pond behind the trees all along, why did they leave the trees when they cleared and grubbed the rest of the site?
- Why are they working by Woodland Hills?
- Did Perry skip to Item #6 (swales) on their lawyer’s letter to the City?
- Why did they not start with Pond N1 as their letter suggested?
- Have they given up on a deal with the county or a sale to private interests?
- Have they abandoned their promises to the Mayor?
- Are they forging ahead with construction of their development?
- Are they playing poker with the County?
- Or are they just trying to get more detention capacity in before the rainy season starts?
Actions Reveal Intent More than Words
Regardless of the answers, there’s a truth to actions that’s often obscured by words.
The location of construction activity makes it appear that Perry has decided to forge ahead with the development of Woodridge Village.
Unfortunately, that could make a potential deal more remote. That will add to cost that Perry likely demands for a deal. Perhaps millions. And cost formed the primary barrier to consummating a deal last night.
Worse yet, there’s no assurance that anything Perry is currently doing to the site will further HCFCD’s goals for the property.
If there was an innocent explanation for all this, no one volunteered it Wednesday.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/8/2020 with help from Jeff Miller
953 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 202 since Imelda
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.