The Super Neighborhood Council (SNC) meeting held Jan. 15 in Kingwood was spent introducing new people to the council and updating its representatives on the status of ongoing projects. Committee President Stan Sarman introduced the new president of the Houston Super Neighborhood Alliance.
“We have with us tonight Juan Antonio Sorto. All of the Super Neighborhood Councils roll up into the alliance. I thought I’d have Juan give us a quick update on what’s going on with the Super Neighborhood Alliance,” Sarman said.
Sorto introduced himself by outlining his background in urban planning and said he is in the final stage of a two-year dissertation effort to earn his Ph.D. with an emphasis on community development. He noted he has spent those two years both researching and working with the alliance and its 50 SNCs. He explained that he was elected as president of the alliance Jan. 13 and that Mayor Sylvester Turner was on hand to outline his agenda for Houston and the role of the SNCs. Turner highlighted the emphasis on Kingwood in his overall agenda.
“The mayor’s number one item for Houston and the alliance is Kingwood. The number one priority for the City of Houston is to address flood mitigation and he mentioned Kingwood as the number one community in that priority,” Antonio Sorto said.
He also provided historical context for the SNC Alliance structure, noting that in 1999 Mayor Lee Brown created it and based it on a SNC system first introduced in Seattle, Wash. He explained that the idea is intended to bring all the different civic clubs and nonprofit organizations in communities together into what is called Super Neighborhoods. The SNCs are able to streamline information between their respective neighborhoods and elected officials at all levels.
Sarman also introduced Houston City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s new north sector manager, stating, “I do want to welcome Mr. Dustin Hodges who is now replacing Clarissa Perez.” Sarman explained that while Perez has been the north sector manager for two years, she actually lives in Pearland so Martin switched her to become his south sector manager since she lives in that area.
Hodges is new to Martin’s staff. He graduated from Texas Tech University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. In 2018, he graduated from the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in public service and administration. Before pursuing his master’s degree, Hodges spent nearly five years working for his hometown of Bay City as the city’s public information officer and chief of staff to the mayor.
After introducing himself, Hodges emphasized Martin’s encouragement for all to attend the informational Open House to be held Thursday, Feb. 6, from 5-8 p.m. at the Kingwood Community Center at 4102 Rustic Woods Drive. Hodges explained that it is for Kingwood residents and businesses to learn more about the upcoming construction of the Northpark Drive Overpass Project. The project will reduce congestion, improve mobility and enhance safety in the Kingwood area by expanding Northpark Drive from four to six lanes between I-69 and Russell Palmer Road and adding a grade-separated overpass at Texas State Loop 494 and the Union Pacific Railroad crossing. It is currently in the design phase. Construction is anticipated to begin early 2021 with expected completion occurring in the middle of 2023. Hodge explained that attendees at the open house will have the opportunity to visit information tables addressing specific areas of the project, ask questions of project team members, and submit public comments. There will also be a brief presentation at 6 p.m.
In addition, Sarman updated the committee on the status of Kingwood Drive intersection improvements at Woodland Hills Drive and Willow Terrace Drive, both of which are on schedule and near completion.
The next Kingwood Area Super Neighborhood Council Meeting will be Feb. 19 at the Kingwood Community Center.