At its July 18 quarterly meeting, the Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Board of Directors approved up to $500,000 to be transferred from the KSA Capital Asset Reserve Fund to be used for dredging the shoreline area along the River Grove Park boat dock and adjacent boardwalk.
The whole area was altered beyond practical use as a result of Hurricane Harvey and subsequent floods. The boardwalk is unattractive and the water that’s supposed to be under it is no longer there, just dirt and sand. In many places it’s a bog out into the channel. It is badly overgrown and not attractive for fishing or just walking along the park shoreline as originally intended.
The $500,000 represents nearly 50% of the total KSA assets of cash and investments allocated to non-park earmarked funds in the current Capital Asset Reserve Fund. It also represents nearly all of the allocated Reserve Fund’s cash and investments that have been systematically accrued over time to cover the cost of improvements to all five of the KSA Parks and the Kingwood Entrance areas KSA owns or is responsible for maintaining.
As a result of the impact on the KSA Reserves, there were many questions and explanations demanded, just as there had been in the KSA Parks Committee a week earlier when it decided it needed to make the request to the board. Board President Dee Price of Sand Creek, who coincidentally is the River Grove Park steward for the Parks Committee, explained the situation from the viewpoint of the committee.
She said,“I know all of you are aware of the sentiments expressed in the Parks Committee that because of Harvey we had to close our boat ramp. We removed a lot of sand from the park itself but a lot of sediment was deposited into the little tributary that runs along the boardwalk.”
Price referred the board members to a packet of pictures provided to them, including an aerial map of the area with sketches of dredging options marked on it along with a detailed cost spreadsheet. She said, “The package shows that we have sediment and loads of vegetation on the left of the boat ramp, between the bulkhead and the pier and along the boardwalk, all with debris and in the middle of the tributary there is sediment so you now can almost walk across it to the other shore with vegetation all over it [the shallow riverbed].”
Price explained the Parks committee had been waiting until the Army Corps of Engineers finished their dredging so they would know how much they were going to do. She said, “They did quite a bit. They cleared out the mouth bar that stuck into our boat channel and cleared an open area all the way to the river so we don’t have to worry about that for another few years.”
Price noted they came right up to the boat ramp and created enough depth there. The hydrologist/engineer the committee has been working with to help with making estimates created dredging estimates. A spreadsheet handed out depicts rough costs for dredging up to about 1,000 feet in length (the length of the boardwalk) and 100 feet in width to a depth of either 3 or 4 feet.
In addition, Price explained that the committee had raised other unanswered questions and decided more due diligence is still required before it actually approves any specific action or cost expenditures. However, it also decided to request the funds transfer from the KSA Reserve Fund at this time for the purpose of avoiding delays of up to another year once final decisions are made.
The due diligence includes a question about actual ownership and control of the land on the opposite shore from the existing boardwalk as a result of Harvey changing the course of the tributary. Since it is no longer an island but is now is joined to the boardwalk side shoreline upstream, can the Parks Committee consider it in its planning? Another concern is the basic question of whether this is the best way to spend up to $500,000. Are there other options to make the park area as attractive as it was before Harvey, or even more so?
When Price finished presenting the committee’s explanation, the board members discussed the same issues but also the impact of transferring that amount of money from the Reserve Fund and how to eventually restore it. There was a general consensus that there are several options as to how to go about doing it that can be addressed without risk of raising KSA homeowner association assessments, although that also might be considered in the future.
When the discussions ended, the board approved the appropriation of $500,000 from the Capital Reserves Fund to dredge the area along the River Grove Park boat docks and boardwalk as requested by the Parks Committee. There was one abstention by Barrington board member Pierce Treadwell, who during the discussions had expressed concerns his Homeowners Association had about what was best for the overall good of the community.
Whether the money will be spent on this dredging project or something else or nothing at all is now up to the Parks Committee. However, they have no authority to spend it without their own formal and specific project approval and, depending on the actual project, if it is a totally new improvement not related to dredging, the final approval of the KSA Board of Directors will be required. If the dredging is determined to be the best way to go, the money needed for it is now available without further board approval.
The next quarterly board of directors meeting is Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Meetings are open to the public and are at the South Woodland Hills Community Center, 2030 Shadow Rock, Kingwood.