Tag Archive for: town hall

Mark Your Calendar: Harris County Precinct 3 Budget Meeting

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey and Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of Harris County’s Office of Management & Budget, will host a town-hall budget meeting to discuss next year’s budget.

Commissioner Ramsey urges you to attend and voice your opinions on how the county should address wasteful spending, save money, and prioritize next year’s budget. 

Why You Should Attend

Precinct 3 maintains nearly 47% of the county’s roadways, but only receives 25% of the general funds, and only received 17% of the 2022 Road and Park Bonds. 

Commissioner Ramsey expresses the need for the public to attend in order to understand how tax dollars are truly being spent. 

This meeting will let you voice your priorities on how Harris County should prioritize its responsibilities and spending of tax dollars. 

Meeting Details

WHEN: Monday, August 14th, 2023, 6 PM

WHERE: George H.W. Bush Community Center

6827 Cypresswood Dr., Spring, TX 77379

Q&A SESSION: Following presentations

Free Shuttle Service

The county will offer free shuttle service from the following Precinct 3 Community Centers. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Call the community center to save your spot!

Barrett Station Community Center 

Departs at 3:45 PM 

Call (713) 274-2040 to register

Crosby Community Center

Departs at 4:15 PM 

Call (832) 927-7730 to register

May Community Center

Departs at 4:30 PM 

Call (713) 274-2434 to register

San Jacinto Community Center

Departs at 4:15 PM 

Call (713) 274-2860 to register

Trini Mendenhall Community Center

Departs at 4:30 PM

Call (713) 274-3200 to register

 County Responsibilities in Texas          

For reference, according to the Texas Association of Counties, responsibilities of Texas county government include:

  • Providing public safety and justice
  • Registering voters and holding elections at every level of government
  • Maintaining Texans’ most important records
  • Building and maintaining roads, bridges and in some cases, county airports
  • Providing emergency management, health, and safety services
  • Collecting property taxes for the county and sometimes for other taxing entities
  • Issuing vehicle registration and transfers

Harris County also offers libraries, parks, and other programs that add to the quality of life for residents. Many play a vital role in the economic development.

So learn more at the Town Hall. Join other concerned residents and let your voice be heard on how tax dollars should be prioritized and spent. I’ll be there. And I hope to comment about the distribution of flood bond money.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/5/2023

2067 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Reminder: Mayor To Speak at Town Hall Meeting Tonight

City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin will host a Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Town Hall meeting tonight.

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020
  • Meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
  • Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
  • Kingwood Community Center
  • 4102 Rustic Woods
  • Kingwood, Texas 77345

Focus on Capital Improvement Projects

During this meeting, residents will hear from Mayor Sylvester Turner, and other city representatives about ongoing and future capital improvement projects

Those may or may not include flood mitigation projects. Such project include additional gates for the Lake Houston dam, additional dredging, and upstream detention. The City has not commented yet on a detailed agenda.

Come Early to Speak with City Leaders

However, the City will set up information tables for those who arrive early. This should give you a chance to review projects and talk with the people heading them up.

For more information, please call Mayor Pro Tem Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008 or email districte@houstontx.gov.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/25/2020

910 Days after Hurricane Harvey

“Perry” Letter: A Good Deal?

Thursday night at the Kingwood Town Hall Meeting, the City discussed a meeting between Perry Homes and city officials including the City Attorney. The subject: How to avoid flooding Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest again. City officials said they demanded multiple concessions from “Perry Homes.” Two days later, and only hours before the Town Hall meeting, Perry Homes (according to City officials) sent the City a letter outlining what it could do. Mayor Sylvester Turner read portions of the letter to the overflow crowd. It met with mixed reaction. Some people were grateful; others skeptical; still others angry.

Much to his credit, Council Member Dave Martin posted the letter on his FaceBook page. I have reposted it here for your convenience, along with my reactions and those of several other residents.

Page 1 of Response.

Page 2 of response.

Rehak’s Opinions

I was not in the meeting between “Perry” and the City so I cannot comment on the tone of the meeting or how the City presented its “demands.” However, several things struck me about this letter right from the opening paragraph. First of all, it’s not from Perry. That’s why I put Perry in quotes above.

  • The developers expressed how saddened they were by Elm Grove flooding. Yet they are suing the victims. This raises a sincerity issue from the git-go.
  • They say, “Your idea of sharing our collective intellectual capital was a good one, and we appreciate having the City’s input.” Sounds pretty collaborative to me. That’s normally good, but it certainly does not fit with how the City characterized meeting.
  • The law firm representing Perry’s subsidiaries, PSWA and Figure Four Partners, sent the letters, not Perry.
  • Even though the engineering plans for the site call for DETENTION ponds, the lawyer now refers to them as RETENTION ponds. The difference between the two is storage capacity. The latter is like renting a storage shed that’s 80% full…and still paying full price. The City attorney needs to question this.
  • The letter only says that they discussed accelerating the schedule, not that they have accelerated it.
  • The letter lays out timing to construct each detention pond. But it doesn’t say whether they will perform work concurrently or sequentially. If concurrently, the work would take 9+ months. If sequentially, it could take 26 months. They talk about beginning “each project as quickly as the plans can be approved.” This suggests a one-at-a-time approach that could potentially add up to 780 days…assuming there are only “minimal delays” for bidding, approvals, weather, etc.
  • They promised to spend 45 days completing the two southern ponds. Those ponds are already substantially complete.
  • The letter promises to build a berm 2 feet above the 100-year flood elevation between Woodridge Village and Elm Grove. An even higher berm failed during Imelda. Floodwaters overtopped it. Perhaps that’s because Montgomery County bases flood maps on data from the 1980s.
  • They talk about delaying development of homes and streets (impervious cover) until they complete detention ponds. Delaying impervious cover seems like a genuine concession; developers like to build in sections so profit from one can help bankroll the next.
  • The lawyers claim their clients have not yet completed plans and specifications. However, LJA Engineering seemed to have a pretty comprehensive set.
  • The letter provides no guarantees and no penalties for non-compliance or missing target dates.
  • Because Perry has never revealed a construction timetable, we can’t tell whether this schedule beats their original one.

All in all, the timetable in this letter, seemed to take a lot of time for work that they could have completed by now.

Jeff Miller’s Opinions

Jeff Miller is an Elm Grove resident who nearly flooded on May 7th and during Imelda. Most of his neighbors did flood. For months, he has monitored the progress of Woodridge Village construction on a daily basis. He alerted the community when excavation on the site came to a virtual standstill during ideal construction weather.

Miller recently had an “aha” experience when driving by a 5-acre commercial construction site in Kingwood. It had more heavy equipment operating on it than Perry’s 268-acre site did at its peak last summer, he said.

Miller is a retired process engineer. Based on observation of that and other sites, Miller estimated excavation of three more detention ponds would take only about a month if Perry pulled out the stops. Other engineers and construction experts share this opinion.

Josh and Jon Alberson’s Opinions

Both of these brothers have engineering degrees from Georgia Tech. Josh is a chemical engineer and Jon a civil engineer. Jon works on giant construction projects for one of the largest companies in America. The Alberson brothers estimate only 10 days more than Miller. They shared their calculations. The calculations assume a two-step process. Excavate and stack the dirt. Then spread and grade it at a later time.

Basically, they calculated the volume of dirt that needs to be removed. Then they divided that volume by the per-load capacity of heavy equipment. Next, they estimated the time to move one load and return for the next. Using this technique, they could ultimately determine the total time it would take to excavate the three remaining ponds. They consulted with Caterpillar on the capacity of different types of equipment and their recommendations. Follow along to check their math.

Final Capacity of Detention Ponds

N1 + N2 + N3 = 209.9 acre feet = 338,638 cubic yards. (That’s compacted soil before excavation, i.e., bank cubic yards.)

Scraper Capacity per Load
  • Assume typical scraper tractor with 400+ hhp, pulling twin 20 cubic yard (medium size) scrapers.  Then assume a worst case 0.75 load factor for uncompacted soil after excavation (loose cubic yards).
  • Yards per Load = 20 cubic yards per scraper * 2 scrapers per tractor * 0.75 = 32 cubic yards per Load
Total Loads
  • 338,638 cubic yards / 32 cubic yards per load = 10,582 loads
Loads per Tractor per Day
  • Assume tractor cycle time for scraping, moving to pile, and returning to pond is 15 minutes.  This would be a conservative transit time.
  • Then assume the tractor operates 20 hours per day.
    • Lunch – 1 hour per shift = 2 hours per day
    • Maintenance = 1 hour per day
    • Breaks = 2 x 15 minute breaks per shift = 1 hr per day
  • Loads per Day = 20 hours per day * 4 loads per hour = 80 loads per day
Number of Days with 1 Scraper Tractor
  • 10,582 loads / 80 loads per day = 132 days
Number of Days with 4 Scraper Tractors
  • 10,582 loads / (80 loads per day * 4) = 33 days
Assume 20% lost time due to non-productive time, weather, etc.
  • 33 days * 1.2 = 40 days

Said Jon, “Most projects can move 8000 cubic yards per day.”

The two agreed on roughly the same time frame but argued over the optimum combinations of day and shift lengths, pieces of equipment, etc.

That’s just the time to dig the ponds. It assumes they stack the dirt somewhere nearby, then grade and compact it at a later date. Let’s assume that takes another month. But the ponds are excavated!

Now, we’re talking roughly TWO months instead of 9 to 26 months. And beating one or two hurricane seasons.

Note: The LJA Engineering report, upon which these calculations are based, shows at least three different storage capacities for the ponds on the northern section under “ultimate conditions”:

  • Exhibit 2 shows a total of 209.4 acre feet.
  • Table 3 shows a total of 154.2 acre feet.
  • Table 7 and the Conclusion show a total of 163 acre feet.

For the analysis above, the Albersons used the highest volume because it represented the most difficult case. Contractors could excavate the smaller totals, if accurate, in even less time. If 154.2 is accurate, excavation would take only 30 days.

Nancy and Abel Vera’s Opinions

Regardless of how Perry Homes staffs this job, it’s going to take some sweat. That’s the one thing that was not in evidence yesterday or today. Despite the assurances of J. Cary Gray, Attorney at Law, multiple residents reported seeing NO activity on the construction site.

As of Saturday afternoon, Nancy Vera still has seen no activity on the construction site. See the video below taken the day after the Town Hall.

Video taken by Nancy Vera on 10/18/2019, day after Town Hall Meeting

Vera’s husband Abel, manages giant construction projects around the world for one of the world’s largest engineering companies. He agrees that the construction could move much faster.

“If they had the proper equipment and man power, they could move fairly quickly. But they have never done that! They took more than six months to put in this one pond by our house [S2]. And they didn’t even really get going till after the May 7th storm.”

Abel Vera, Resident just south of S2 Detention Pond

A Faster Way?

This video shows the scraper equipment that Alberson and Caterpillar recommended to move large volumes of dirt quickly. The video runs 13 minutes but you will get the idea after a minute or two. These guys collect dirt while rolling.

The Ultimate Scraper Video

Contrast that with what I saw earlier this summer. I watched as a backhoe filled up one dump truck after another. It took several minutes to fill up each truck with multiple scoops. Then each truck took the dirt to its ultimate destination more than a half mile away rather than piling it up near the pond and returning for more dirt. It was a long, slow, dusty procedure with lots of dead time between loads.

Excavation of Woodridge Village S2 Detention Pond took months…one scoop at a time. Photo taken on May 24, 2019.

A Good Deal?

So, does the letter from Counsellor Gray represent a good deal for the residents of Elm Grove. I think not. If Perry Homes really cared about the safety and peace of mind of Elm Grove residents, they could move much faster. The letter commits them to nothing except delaying homes and streets until all detention is in. That’s something. But with most of the surface being hard-packed clay, the threat of rapid runoff remains until they finish all those detention ponds. And someone really needs to proofread that LJA report. It’s scary to think that this whole development could be based on erroneous calculations. I’m surprised Montgomery County approved it.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/19/2019 with help from Josh and Jon Alberson, Abel and Nancy Vera, and Jeff Miller

781 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 30 since Imelda

The thoughts in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Town Hall Meeting Thursday at 6:30 Will Cover Wide Variety of Topics

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin will host a town hall meeting tomorrow, Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m. It will be at the Kingwood Community Center, 4102 Rustic Woods, Kingwood, TX 77345. Hear from city and community representatives about news related to the Kingwood and Lake Houston areas of District E. 

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at Kingwood town hall meeting in October of 2018. Flooding was a hot topic then and even hotter now.

List of Speakers and Topics

  • Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton will kick off the town hall meeting, providing an update on Proposition 8 and sand-mining legislation. 
  • Mayor Sylvester Turner will attend.
  • Stephen Costello, City of Houston Chief Recovery Officer, will update residents on the progress of projects such as additional Lake Houston Spillway Dam Improvement Project (Flood Gates) and dredging. 
  • Houston Public Works and the Coastal Water Authority will address the Lake Houston Dam Maintenance Project. It’s why the lake will be one foot below normal through next November.
  • Stan Sarman, TIRZ 10 board chair, will discuss the Northpark Drive Mobility Improvement Project. 
  • Chuck Gilman, San Jacinto River Authority Director of Flood Management, will address the regional watershed study.
  • Chip Place from the Houston Parks Board will update residents on the Bayou Greenways 2020 project along the San Jacinto River. 
  • Texas Department of Transportation will update residents on the Loop 494 expansion project. 

Information About Kingwood Docks and More

Those who arrive early can browse information stations starting at 6:00 p.m. hosted by:

  • Lovett Commercial (Kingwood Docks)
  • Houston Public Works
  • Houston Police Department Kingwood Division
  • Houston Permitting Center to assist residents with questions related to storm damage repairs and rebuilding. 

Tables will remain open after the town hall meeting for those who arrive late.

For more information, please contact Council Member Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008 or via email at districte@houstontx.gov.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 16, 2019

778 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 27 since Imelda

The Mouth Bar: A Dam Behind the Dam

As tonight’s town hall meeting with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council Member Dave Martin, Chief Resiliency Officer Steve Costello and Chief Recovery Officer Marvin Odum approaches, it’s important to understand that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is NOT currently scheduled to dredge the mouth bar at the confluence of the West Fork and Lake Houston.

The scope of the current West Fork Emergency Dredging Project includes 2.1 miles between River Grove Park and Chimichurri’s. The Corp will remove 1.8 million cubic yards of sand clogging the river in that area. However, they will leave two to three times that much sediment at the mouth of the West Fork – between King’s Point and Atascocita Point…unless something changes soon.

The “Mouth Bar,” a giant sand bar that blocks the West Fork of the San Jacinto, backing the river up into Kingwood and Humble. Water depth is generally 1-3 feet around this bar. Max channel depth in places is just 5-8 feet.

The “mouth bar” which we have talked about extensively in previous posts forms a dam of sorts behind the Lake Houston dam. It backs water up into the heavily populated Humble/Kingwood/Atascocita corridor.

Tim Garfield and RD Kissling, two local retired geologists, first sounded the alarm about this blockage. Since then, many people have been working to bring the mouth bar within the scope of the current project. Garfield and Kissling have also continued to review Corps survey data and developed additional insights.

Tonight Garfield and Kissling shared these thoughts.

  1. You could walk along the red line from Scenic Shores to Kings River Estates, and except for crossing the paleo channel at five to eight feet, you would not even get your shirt wet. It should be approximately 25 feet deep in this area.

    Shallowest path follows red line.

    The Corps survey data is in the background. The red line represents the shallowest points of the lake/river.

  2. Without removing the mouth bar, water will have to flow uphill approximately 40 feet between the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge and Lake Houston.

    Water will have to rise approximately 40 feet between West Lake Houston Parkway and the Mouth Bar to reach Lake Houston. Subtract five or six feet for the deepest parts of the channel on either side of the bar.

  3. If the city dropped the lake level 12 feet overnight – but the mouth bar remained – you would see an earthen dam 6 feet higher than the lake, behind which West Fork floodwater would still back up and flood our neighborhoods.
  4. Adding flood gates without removing the mouth bar will not protect us from flooding.

With those happy thoughts, let’s hope that the City has some good news to share tonight re: removal of the mouth bar. Council Member Martin and others have been working diligently with the County, State, and Federal Governments to include the mouth bar in the current dredging project or fund it as a second project that follows the first closely.

Doing so could save taxpayers $17 million in mobilization costs.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m., at the Kingwood Community Center, 4102 Rustic Woods, Kingwood, TX 77345.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 9, 2018

406 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Announcements Expected at October 9 Town Hall on Additional Dredging, Detention and Floodgates

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin will host a town hall meeting, Tuesday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m., at the Kingwood Community Center, 4102 Rustic Woods, Kingwood, TX 77345. At this meeting, announcement is expected on whether FEMA and the Army Corps will include the mouth bar in the current West Fork dredging project.

The community is invited to attend and hear from city and community representatives about this and a variety of other ongoing projects related to the Kingwood and Lake Houston areas of District E.

Flood Mitigation Update from Costello and Odum

Residents will hear from Stephen Costello, City of Houston Chief Resiliency Officer and Marvin Odum, Chief Recovery Officer, on the progress made to rebuild the City post-Harvey. A spokesperson for Council Member Martin’s office stated that Costello intends to address issues crucial to the Lake Houston area, including additional dredging, upstream detention and floodgates. As part of his discussion, the spokesperson said that Costello will update the community on the status of removal of mouth bar.

The “Mouth Bar,” a giant sand bar that blocks the West Fork of the San Jacinto, backing the river up into Kingwood and Humble. The mouth bar is within the scope of the current Army Corps dredging project, but officials have been trying to get FEMA and the Corps to include it. Water depth is generally 1-3 feet around this bar. Max channel depth in places is just 5 feet.

Experts believe that this giant sand bar at the mouth of Lake Houston is creating a backwater effect that contributes to flooding in the highly populated Humble/Kingwood/West Fork corridor. The bar grew exponentially during Harvey, but is not within scope of the current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Emergency West Fork Dredging Project.

If an expansion of scope or follow-on project cannot be arranged before contractors for the current project leave the river, taxpayers’ $17 million investment in mobilization would be lost. Any future projects would need to re-incur those costs all over again, adding to the total cost of dredging.

Martin has had a series of meetings recently with Governor Abbott, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, FEMA, Senator Cruz, Senator Cornyn and Congressman Poe. However, everyone is tight-lipped about the progress of negotiations. It’s still not clear whether the bar will be removed, and if so, who would remove it, or how it would be paid for.

Turner to Address Ballot Referendums on November 6

This fall’s town hall meeting will also include a presentation from Mayor Sylvester Turner who will speak on the Rebuild Houston and fire salary referendums that will appear on the November 6 ballot. All registered voters within the boundaries of the City are urged to attend.

Other Speakers

Stan Sarman, the Chair of the TIRZ 10 board will provide information on a variety of projects including the Northpark Drive Mobility Improvement Project, and the status of area intersection improvements.  There will be an update on the Lake Houston Debris Removal Project provided by a member of the City of Houston Solid Waste Department Team. State Representative Dan Huberty is confirmed to provide insight on the upcoming legislative session.

Doors Open at 5:30 for Info Tables on Other Projects

For those who arrive early, there will be information tables available starting at 5:30 p.m. staffed by:

  • Harris County Precinct 4 to discuss their upcoming projects in Forest Cove
  • Texas Department of Transportation to educate residents on the expansion of TX Loop 494
  • Houston Parks Board to provide information on the upcoming San Jacinto Greenway Project
  • Houston Department of Neighborhoods
  • Houston Police Department’s Kingwood Division

For More Information

Please contact Council Member Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008 or via email at districte@houstontx.gov.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 6, 2018

403 Days since Hurricane Harvey