Houston, TX --- Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin is pleased to announce that after many months of deliberation, Harris County Commissioner's Court voted unanimously earlier this week to authorize the Harris County Real Property Division to sign an earnest money contract with Figure Four Partners, LTD to purchase two tracts of land containing 267.35 acres located in Montgomery County, which will include the Woodridge Village Stormwater Basin. The total contract will be in the amount of $14,019,316.00, which is about $5 million below the appraised value of the land, bringing us closer to a signed interlocal agreement within the year. District E is elated with the unanimous support of this Commissioners' Court Agenda item and wishes to thank Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle for their support.
 
This is the first crucial step in completing an interlocal agreement between the City of Houston and Harris County. This vote coupled with the upcoming announcement from the Texas Water Development Board of the City's eligibility to apply for a 0% interest loan for a project on Taylor's Gully are two of the many efforts Mayor Pro Tem Martin has been working towards for the better part of a year. These projects will be an integral component in further reducing the effects of future flooding in the Kingwood and Lake Houston region.
 
During May of 2019, as well as Tropical Storm Imelda, which occurred almost exactly a year ago, the clearing of this site for development of a new subdivision to the north of Elm Grove Village contributed to flooding and heavy sediment deposited in much of northern Kingwood.  Mayor Pro Tem Martin called for the immediate stoppage of the planned development and sale of this site. He is happy to see with the execution of the earnest money contract the locking of the purchase price for 120 days. The purchase of the property is contingent upon Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) entering in to an interlocal agreement with the City of Houston within 120 days of the execution of the earnest money contract.
 
Last week, the City of Houston Public Works Director, Carol Haddock, submitted a letter of intent to the HCFCD Executive Director, Russ Poppe. The letter of intent constitutes a commitment by both parties, City and County, to execute a binding interlocal agreement within the earnest money period and no later than December 31, 2020.
 
A binding agreement for the proposed transaction can only be evidenced by HCFCD executing a finalized interlocal agreement which will need the approval of Houston City Council. Mayor Pro Tem Martin is committed to working with every council office to gain their support of this interlocal agreement, as mutual support of projects to reduce future flooding citywide are key to a successful resiliency plan.
 
The location of the Figure Four Property is suitable for a sub-regional stormwater detention facility, which will help protect affected residents from future intense rainfall events. Additionally, the City has identified a need for approximately 73 acres of the total site to serve as the location for a regional wastewater treatment plant. This would facilitate the regionalization of the three wastewater treatment plants in the Kingwood Area. Two of these three plants were significantly impacted by flooding during Hurricane Harvey. 
 
The City would contribute cash for the portion of the site that would house the new wastewater treatment facility. The City has requested in lieu of cash match for detention, mutually agreeable City owned land be identified and drainage of flooding easements across these properties be offered in lieu of a cash payment to the District for flood risk reduction projects in areas that experience frequent and severe flooding.
 
Once acquired, the City and District will work together to find additional funding to build out additional storage on site to maximize downstream benefits to affected residents. The City has recently submitted and abridged application to the Texas Water Development Board for a $30 M grant/loan to fund a flood damage reduction project on Taylor's Gully. This state agency is charged with managing the capital Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) created by the 86th legislature in 2019, thanks to Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton and Texas State Representative Dan Huberty. The legislature mutually seeded the FIF program with approximately $790 M, the state has received applications requesting over $2.3 B to date. Staff recommendations for applications to advance to the formal comprehensive application submittal phase is pending.
 
Ultimately, approval of this earnest money contract is a huge win for the City of Houston and Kingwood residents. The continuation of projects for flood prevention and infrastructure improvement in the Lake Houston area continues to move forward thanks to the persistence of Mayor Pro Tem Martin. We hope to have more good news once the city has completed its application to the Texas Water Development Board for improvements to Taylor Gully, which will happen later this year.
Author: David TatchinEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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