The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority/Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 10 (TIRZ) is tasked with improvements in the community.
The TIRZ provides replacement financing mechanisms for water, sewer and drainage costs for the development of residential subdivisions along the lake, but they have found themselves to be sounding boards for frustrated citizens.
At the September meeting, the board heard the final yearly audit report, got the monthly financial statement, heard an update on two small intersection improvements and had a discussion on the first month’s status of the Northpark project. However, significant time was spent on the effects of the recent flooding Sept. 19. Concerned residents appealed for help and Houston City Councilmember Dave Martin’s chief of staff, Jessica Beemer, gave a detailed report on the community’s status.
– TIRZ board approves acquisitions, audit –
Barbara Hilburn, president of the Kingwood Lakes Community Association, distributed photographs and maps of Kingwood gullies and ditches. Prompted by the extensive flooding during Hurricane Harvey, the TIRZ board has recently entered an agreement with the Harris County Flood Control District to study all the waterbearing avenues in the community. Hilburn explained that urgency is needed to clear the gullies and ditches of large debris that blocks the water draining.
“The flood last week, the floodwaters didn’t come from the river. It came because the flow was blocked. Bens Branch flooded in May and we saw homes flooded in South Woodland Hills and in Trailwood Village.
“The flood control district does have photos on their website and they are studying the issue long term, but we need them to come snatch and grab now. They need to clean the heavy debris, trees and branches now. We have more weather coming,” she said.
Hilburn showed photos of heavy debris in Kingwood Lakes. “We just want them to get the debris from under the bridge. But the flood district and the City of Houston are tossing the potato back and forth, saying it is the other’s problem. This is the time for neighbors to take care of neighbors and stop arguing,” she said.
Another resident discussed the flooding of St. Martha Catholic School.
“It flooded – again,” he said. “Friendswood owns that land where Bens Branch Creek flows. I want this board to ask Friendswood to clean it out.”
Beemer spoke at length about the September flooding, saying the District E staff had been out in the neighborhoods canvassing who was flooded.
“The county judge has declared it a disaster, but we need people to report to 311 or 713-837-0311 and to call our office,”she said.
“These reports go to the county, which then triggers federal help,” she said.
Beemer discussed the flood gates being installed by the City of Houston, a project which should take three years. She also discussed an ongoing study being conducted by the San Jacinto River Authority, Harris County, Montgomery County and the City of Houston looking at multiple water networks.
“There are 12 tributaries that feed into the east and west forks of the San Jacinto River. The study is looking at sediment and water flow,” Beemer said.
Beemer discussed sand in Lake Houston, a large amount of which is known as the mouth bar. The mouth bar is located at the point where the river flows into the lake. After Harvey, the City of Houston did an extensive report, 94 pages, which stated that the mouth bar was predominantly the result of Harvey. FEMA, she said, did a four-page report that states they dispute the city’s report.
“They will not tell us what they dispute or what data they used. They are just ignoring the city’s report,” she said.
The TIRZ fund balance as of Aug. 31 is $13,720,335. McCall Gibson Swedlund and Barfoot, a CPA firm, gave the annual audit report. Rachel Ray-Welsh of Walter P. Moore said the two upcoming intersection improvement projects, at Kingwood Drive and Woodland Hills and at Kingwood Drive at Willow Terrace, are in the design phase.
Joel Salinas and Vince Obregon of HNTB, the contractors for Northpark, said the first month of work was spent analyzing all the existing data on the project. Meetings were held with Union Pacific Railroad and with TxDOT.
It was announced that a law firm is working on acquiring the rights-of-way to 25-plus parcels of land and offers will be made soon to property owners there.