At its meeting March 10, the directors of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 10 (TIRZ) approved a formal request to the Houston City Council to increase its current boundaries of authority and extend its life beyond 2027. When approved, the TIRZ will function through at least 2056.

“Originally, back in 2017, we looked at doing this per the mayor’s request but the plan, because of issues with the state legislature, got delayed,” Chairman Stan Sarman said. During the development of the Kingwood Mobility Project in 2017 it became clear that areas beyond TIRZ’s current authority needed to be included in the Northpark Drive overpass and road expansion projects including areas in Montgomery County. The 2017 plan included extending the life of TIRZ for another 30 years to ensure long term capital financing and other issues would not be at risk if the original 2027 expiration date of the TIRZ authority was not extended.

“So now we are at the point, in order for us to go forward with completing our project plan on Northpark Drive, we must get this annexation approved through City Council in order to have the funding for our 20% share of the funding for Northpark Drive. It also includes the extension of Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority for 30 more years,” Sarman said.

Ralph DeLeon, administrator for the authority, explained the historic overview of the plan in his written introduction to the document that will be submitted to the Houston City Council for approval. In it he noted it all goes back to when the City of Houston annexed the Kingwood area of Harris County Oct. 23, 1996. At that moment the city assumed responsibility for the long term development and coordination of the infrastructure needed to facilitate residential and commercial development of the area. To do so, in December 1997 the Houston City Council established its TIRZ No. 10 for the next 30 years with the authority to plan and manage those responsibilities. That authority will expire in five years (2027) and there are already major projects in progress and in planning where funding arrangements must be secured into the future well beyond five years.

Sarman explained he and DeLeon were working with Kingwood’s Houston City Councilman Dave Martin and Mayor Sylvester Turner to approve the expanded TIRZ plan as soon as possible.

In other business:

- The directors approved its monthly financial report which included spending $695,403 in operating disbursements in February. DeLeon explained 84% of the expense was related to payments to the WFG National Title Company for various parcels of property and to HNTB Corporation for its project management work on the Northpark Drive overpass and road expansion projects. In addition, the authority spent $506,169 for capital projects, the majority of which ($457,779) was spent toward the Northpark Overpass project.

- The directors approved the establishment of a new banking account with Texas Capital Bank which is specifically specialized to better serve governmental, not for profit and other institutional clients.

Dustin Hodges of City Councilman Dave Martin’s office reported Monday, March 7 he and Martin drove with public works people down Kingwood and Northpark Drives to check the timing of the traffic signals as part of Martin’s current Kingwood traffic light timing and sequencing project.

“They are much better than they were but there are still improvements to be made,” Hodges said. He noted Martin’s office will be submitting a routine report to public works about Kingwood’s traffic light sequencing starting Friday.

Paula Ikpatt, a project manager with HNTB, updated directors on the status of the two Northpark projects that are currently in final planning stages. Bidding and construction may begin on the overpass project soon. She explained both the Union Pacific Railroad and the City of Houston were currently reviewing the final required plans and agreements necessary to begin.

“Everything looks good at this point,” Ikpatt said regarding the overpass project. She explained HNTB is currently working closely with the Harris County Flood Control District to make sure the design of the bridge over the big diversion ditch meets all of the drainage requirements.

The next Lake Houston TIRZ 10 Directors Meeting will be April 14 at the Kingwood Community Center.

Bruce Olson
Author: Bruce OlsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.

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