Engineers from HNTB distributed an initial timeline to get things underway which begins with the contract execution (Aug. 8, 2019) and ends with putting the project out for bid (March 15, 2021).
View the project schedule here.
Board members voted to accept the contract with HNTB and also voted on several engagement agreements needed to get the project going as Ralph De Leon, TIRZ manager, said, “Today we are officially kicking off the Northpark Drive Project.”
Chairman Stan Sarman noted, with agreement from Houston City Councilmember Dave Martin and other TIRZ members, that the group wants to tighten up the timeline and get “shovels in the ground” significantly earlier than March of 2021.
“We want to bid this out by the end of next year,” Sarman said.
HNTB representatives said the timeline was a conservative one with room to tighten but that some pieces were lengthy. The drainage impact study, for example, takes six months.
Nevertheless, the mood was buoyant.
De Leon announced that TIRZ received the 2018 increment of $5,174,425.48 from the City of Houston and hold approximately $11 million in funds; $6 million came from the city as initial funds for the Northpark project.
Allen Brown, a resident, spoke to the board on several matters during public comment.
Brown pointed out that the city killed all the grass in the esplanades along West Lake Houston Parkway and in other Kingwood areas with two chemicals in lieu of mowing the grass. Brown provided information from Martin’s office which said “the city used an herbicide called ‘MSMA’ along with a surfactant on the esplanades.” Brown said a quick check on the internet states application of these in temperatures above 90 degrees will kill grass. Ethel McCormick, manager of the Kingwood Service Association, confirmed that her office mows the grass most of the time because the city schedule is so laggard.
“The city is responsible for mowing but their schedule has large gaps so we mow most of the time. But before we could get out there, I started getting calls about all the dead grass. The city had not mowed and instead, put the chemicals out,” she said.
Brown suggested the TIRZ take on the mowing task entirely so the grass and public areas would be consistently kept trim and not killed with chemicals.
Brown also asked that the TIRZ pay for partial dredging slated to be funded by KSA and the Parks Committee, who voted in July to spend $500,000 to dredge around River Grove Park.
“The TIRZ should pay for this, not the citizens,” he said, adding, “Why should residents pay to dredge the river? That is not our responsibility.”
Brown also had strong criticisms about the intersection improvements to Northpark at West Lake Houston Parkway. He provided a list of recommendations to the members.
The TIRZ meets next Sept. 26.
For a complete description of the project, go to ourtribune.com/headlines/21793-northpark-drive-reconstruction-project-receives-federal-funding .