– New development targeted as cause –

The recent flooding in Kingwood dominated the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority/Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 10 board meeting May 9 as Houston City Councilman Dave Martin gave a summary of the storm and the actions which came about because of the rains.

“It was another challenging week in Kingwood,” Martin said. He announced that city solid waste vehicles were already working in the community, less than 48 hours after the rain stopped.

Martin also discussed the development north of Elm Grove, where recent clear cutting and initial home building are suspected to have caused the flooding of 400 homes that never have flooded before.

“We had 4 1/2 inches of rain in 38 minutes, 10 inches in two hours,” he said. Martin said he believes the home development, owned by Figure Four Partners, diverted water which ultimately flooded into Kingwood.

Martin had City of Houston officials put cameras into the storm system and found them to be in excellent shape and none blocked. He said that no storm sewer in the world can accommodate that amount of water in such a short period of time.

Martin said Houston has an “Adopt-A-Drain” program that encourages residents to look after a drain near their home, keeping it clear of weeds, debris and the like. He will name two Kingwood co-chairs of this program in the near future.

He also said that the dam gates in Lake Houston are wide open and that with help from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, he was able to get the San Jacinto River Authority to keep water from flowing on their end until the rain event was over.

He also gave a brief update on the “mouth bar” at the confluence of Lake Houston and the San Jacinto River. The city did a study of the area and provided it to the Army Corps of Engineers. While there is agreement between both that dredging needs to occur there, there is disagreement on how much sand is from Hurricane Harvey. Martin said he is continuing to press the Corps to accept the report and begin the dredging.

Allan Brown, a citizen, spoke to the board about the flooding.

“I have been a resident here for 33 years and I’ve never seen this. I don’t want cameras and studies. I want the storm system cleaned from start to end,” he said.

Brown also said the City of Houston has “done nothing for us,” pointing to a creek running behind St. Martha Catholic School that has never been cleaned out.

He also stated that the new intersection improvements at W. Lake Houston Pkwy. and Northpark are confusing.

The board heard a brief presentation from Texas Class, an investment entity which offers attractive rates, fluidity and daily payments. The TIRZ has more than $9 million to invest after receiving $6 million from the City of Houston as an initial payment toward the Northpark project. After some discussion, the board voted to invest with Texas Class at an initial interest rate of 2.48%.

Other items discussed:

- The board voted to hire McCall Gibson Swedlund and Barfoot to conduct their annual audit.

- Rachel Ray-Welsh reported that the long-awaited mast arm and pole for the W. Lake Houston Pkwy. intersection has been delivered and should be installed within 30 days.

- TxDOT advised the TIRZ that they would not manage the Northpark project. While they initially stated they would be in charge, they recommended the board hire a management firm.

- The funding agreement between the TIRZ and the Harris County Flood Control District will take another six weeks to get on the county agenda. The Flood Control District had planned a study of the open ditches in Kingwood and the TIRZ offered to pay for a more in-depth study.

- The intersection improvement plan for Kingwood Drive at Woodland Hills is progressing, although one property owner is refusing to allow a survey as he is “not a fan of the project,” according to TIRZ attorney Tim Austin.

- Chairman Stan Sarman and TIRZ manager Ralph Deleon met with Montgomery County officials to make them aware of the planned Northpark project. Sarman reported that Montgomery County is planning to widen Ford Road to four lanes and to widen and improve Loop 494 from FM 1314 south to Northpark Drive.

The next meeting of the TIRZ will be June 13 at the Kingwood Community Center at 8 a.m.

Cynthia Calvert
Author: Cynthia CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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A trained journalist with a masters degree from Lamar University, a masters from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as extensive coursework toward a masters of science in psychology from the University of New Orleans, Calvert founded the Tribune Newspapers in 2007. Her experiences as an investigative, award winning reporter (She won Journalist of the Year from the Houston Press Club among many other awards for reporting and writing), professor and chair of the journalism department for Lone Star College-Kingwood and vice president of editorial for a large group of community weeklies provides her with a triple dose of bankable skills that cover every aspect of the journalism field. Solid reporting. Careful interviews. Respect and curiosity for people and places.