Creature Feature: Cooper’s Hawk by Michael Graves

So… you’re walking down the street with your dog or stroller when a dark blur streaks by and a dozen doves explode out of a tree, with the jays who witnessed the event screaming JAY JAY JAY! What just happened? Chances are good that a Cooper’s Hawk is to blame and that he or she may now be enjoying a meal.

“Coops” are becoming increasingly at home within the Woodland Heights, with these woodland hawks moving into neighborhoods to offset impacts of habitat loss. Coops lurk from hidden perches in trees, swooping out to snatch birds, squirrels, rats, bats, reptiles and insects. All but the tiniest pets are safe, with Cooper’s Hawks weighing in at less than a pound and unlikely to tackle anything bigger than themselves.

Though we may feel bad for those who are eaten, the balance of nature requires these ongoing interactions of prey and predator, as is beautifully illustrated in the new movie The Biggest Little Farm. And the risks work both ways, with the Coops’ method of hunting resulting in injuries that give them an average lifespan of just one year – not good for a species that doesn’t breed until its second year.

As a result, most of the Coops you’ll see are young birds, which have a brown back and wings, and brown streaks running down the white breast and belly. Adults have a slate gray back and wings, with orangey barring across the breast and belly. Coops of all ages have a very long tail with broad brown and gray bands. Photos taken in Woodland Heights and White Oak Park display the progression from nestling, to juvenile, to adult.

Want to learn more about the birds of the ‘hood? Check out the Bayou City Birding resources of the White Oak Bayou Association at WhiteOakBayou.org/resources-and-zines and take part in the monthly bird survey at Woodland Park.

Nominate a Bird of Houston by July 15, 2019 by Michael Graves

Recommended by City Counselor Karla Cisneros at the July WHCA general meeting. What's your vote for The Bird of Houston? https://houstonaudubon.org/birding/birdofhouston.html

Official symbols reflect the cultural heritage & natural treasures of areas. Countries and states recognize emblems like flags, birds, flowers and seals; and every city has its own unique spaces and things residents cherish. At Houston Audubon we treasure birds, people, and natural landscapes, and we are proud to be a part of the Houston community.

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Join us in celebrating Houston by helping us select a bird species that represents our bayou city. We take pride in our hometown and we want to hear from our fellow Houstonians which bird inspires or connotes emotion or thought when you think of Houston.

Is it the Great Blue Heron foraging along the bayou or the Great-tailed Grackle scoping out the local HEB parking lot? We want to hear from you!

Nomination period ends July 15, after which we will narrow the submissions to the top 8 birds based on votes. The winner will be determined via brackets beginning on July 22. This will include head-to-head voting in 7 different rounds (with 3 days of voting for each round) until we have the winner. All of this will be happening right here, so be sure to bookmark this page! We'll announce the winning bird at the beginning of our 50th anniversary Bird Week festivities (September 21 - 28, 2019).

WHCA July General Meeting Reminder by Michael Graves

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WHCA General Meetings are usually held at one of the public schools in the neighborhood. However, when school is not in session these locations are not available. Happily, our newly minted bylaws give us the flexibility of holding the meeting at a nearby establishment. So, for the very first time, we are pleased to announce that the next WHCA General Meeting will be held:
 

Tuesday, July 9th at 7pm
in the back meeting room at
A 2nd Cup, 1111 E 11th St


The agenda:
TXDOT have hosted a number of public meetings recently, trying to sell their I-45 Expansion plan and collect Public feedback. You very likely received a TXDOT flier in the mail his past week.

Jim Weston, President of the I-45 Coalition, a WH resident with a long history of tracking the project, will present an independent summary of the state of the current plans.

Leann Mueller will present about a local effort to promote slower, more careful driving in the Greater Heights. She leads a local instance of a larger, national effort promoting adoption of 25 MPH as a speed limit in residential neighborhoods.

Also:
As usual, there will also be updates from the WHCA board of directors.

This meeting is your bi-monthly chance to have your voice heard. Like something that we've done? Come say so! Don't like something? Well, we need to know. Have suggestions for something that should be done? Most definitely let it be known.

We hope to see you there!

Tracking Crime in Woodland Heights by Michael Graves

If you look on NextDoor you might sometimes get the impression that crime is rampant in Woodland Heights. However, things you find there don’t paint a complete picture of what actually occurs in the neighborhood. Happily, there is a way that you can find out what’s going on using CrimeReports.com.

CrimeReports.com view of Woodland Heights incidents May 27 - June 26, 2019.

The data on CrimeReports is sent on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis from more than 1000 participating agencies to the CrimeReports map. Each agency controls their data flow to CrimeReports, including how often they send data, and which incidents are included. With regard to WH, you’ll find information from HPD and the Harris County Sherriff’s Department.

According to HPD:

CrimeReports is the nation's largest collection of law enforcement agencies committed to transparency, public access, and citizen engagement. The Houston Police Department has partnered with CrimeReports to provide public access to data from original crime reports entered into the Houston Police Department’s Record Management System within the last 180 days. The crime data is updated every 30 minutes and represents basic/general information for incidents within the City of Houston.

With everything shown on a map, you can drill down to a specific date and location to see what was reported. Incidents are marked for the type of activity, including; assault, break & enter, theft, theft from vehicle (by far the most common in WH), property or drug-related crime.

At the time this summary was generated there were just 7 incidents reported for the preceding month, including; (6) theft from a vehicle and (1) case of vandalism. You can drill down further, to get a better understand of patterns. For example, what days of the week or times of day does most crime occur?

The site also has some novel features. For example, you can register that fact that you have one or more surveillance cameras. That allows law enforcement to know who might be able to help provide evidence of events nearby.

You can also create an alert, so you’ll be notified when something is reported in a specific target area.

It’s easy to get all wrapped up in anecdotal reports that paint a bleak and depressing picture. I’ve found the hard data presented at CrimeReports.com to be a welcome insight into the reality of the situation.


While on the subject of crime…have you signed up for the WHCA Constable Patrol Program? The program ensures that Harris County Constables are on patrol in WH for 80 hours/each week. The availability of the constables dramatically reduces response times when you need their assistance.


Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! by Michael Graves

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It seems that the WHCA Yard-of-the-Month sign has gone missing again! It's last known perch was on the 900 block of Merrill. We need it back! If someone grabbed it, perhaps to prank a neighbor, we'd be happy just to see it returned to where they found it. No questions asked.

If you see it, please let us know where so we can collect it. You can email newsletter@woodland-heights.org or send us a message via the WHCA Facebook page.

- Michael Graves

WHCA 4th of July Parade Cancelled by Michael Graves

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The shuffling of the WHCA schedule, moving the Annual General Meeting from March to May and restructuring the board of directors, has had a number of knock-on effects, some unanticipated. In this case, a shortage of time and volunteers has forced the cancellation of the 4th of July Parade.

In the past, organizing the event had been the responsibility the President-Elect, a position that has been eliminated on the new WHCA board of directors. Harry McMahon, President, says that going forward, the event will be organized by the Director of Membership, so we can expect its triumphant return in 2020.

Yard-of-the-Month: 118 Alma by Michael Graves

I love wandering the neighborhood and admiring our fine old homes and the gardens that surround them.  One of my favorite walks is Germantown, an area just east of Houston Avenue and bordering I-45 settled by German immigrants in the late 1800’s.

A few years ago, I discovered a wonderful Queen Anne cottage (c1915) and garden at 118 Alma. I knew immediately that the resident was an artist. The evidence is everywhere. The large picture of a beloved pet mounted on the wall of the front of the house protected by the porch, the planters made out of tires, the mosaics on the fence, the jars filled with various colored water that adorn the flower beds, and the amazing topiary that spells out the artist’s last name,  H-A-Y-S-L-I-P.

Mary’s great-grandparents moved into the house on Alma in 1920.  Mary has lived in the home since 1974. Take a walk and come to see Mary Hayslip’s garden and art. There are memories here among the flowers and trees in our Yard-of-the-Month.

Creature Feature: Yellow-crowned Night-Herons by Michael Graves

They came back and are doing well!!! The Yellow-crowned Night-Herons that is. The Live Oak trees on Bayland hosted a large number of nests this year, with the birds having built only a few nests along the avenue during the past few years – probably as a result of the aggressive tree trimming performed by a city contractor in 2015 while the trees were filled with nestlings. This year, each block of Bayland that provides a full canopy averaged two nests, with an average of two to three chicks from each nest in the process of leaving the nests – or “fledging.”

For the next couple of weeks, we’ll see the fledglings walking around (please drive mindfully) and making short flights around the neighborhood as they build up their strength. Soon, they’ll be easy to spot along the banks of the White Oak Bayou, feeding on a wide assortment of crayfish and other crustaceans, fish, frogs, toads, insects and even the occasional snake. If you look carefully, you’ll also be able to spot Yellow-crowns roosting in trees in White Oak Park and Woodland Park. In the fall, most will leave the area, heading to wintering grounds along the coasts of Mexico and Central America.

Yellow-crowns take on many looks, with the full adult plumage not achieved until the third year. Young birds are mostly brown with white markings. Gradually, they’ll morph over to a slate gray color scheme, with the flashy black-and-white facial markings of the adults added last. A series of photos taken in the neighborhood and along the bayou illustrates the transformation from quasi-dinosaur to svelte adult to ancient mystic.

If you’d like to know more about the birds you can find in the Woodland Heights and along the bayou, check out the Bayou City Birding Zines and Posters that can be downloaded from the website of the White Oak Bayou Association at WhiteOakBayou.org/resources-and-zines. The first of these zines features the Yellow-crowns and five other herons and egrets that can usually be spotted along the bayou.

- Wendy Wright

The Young Entrepreneurs of Lemonade Day 2019 by Michael Graves

Back in may, in the run-up to Lemonade Day, we tried to promote the event by offering to promote pop-up lemonade stands using the WHCA web site, Facebook page, Twitter account and mailing list. We had four families take us up on the offer. Some sent pictures, which we offer here.

We received quite a number of comments about this activity. All but one were supportive of the idea. On that basis, it will continue. And it need not be confined to April & May. If your crew have a lemonade stand or similar exercise planned, let us know and we'll help spread the word.

Feeling The Byrne on Father's Day by Michael Graves

The epic battle unfolded on Saturday, June 15, when fathers on the 400 block of Byrne challenged their kids to a rematch of an annual Father’s Day weekend tradition. Mike Bennett, Cory Clechenko, Scott McBride and Raul Ramos, reinforced by honorary block “dad” Kirk Carver, lobbed water balloons, ducking and weaving the return fire from more than a dozen boys and girls. Drenched and out of breath when the ammunition was exhausted, the battle was called a draw, with fun had by all!

Thanks to Megan Mastal, also of Byrne St, for sending in the story & pictures.

Talking Trash with Rollout! Houston by Michael Graves

Not long ago someone commented on NextDoor that they were finally able to keep track of the city schedule for yard waste and heavy trash by watching the WHCA calendar right here on our website. This was completely unexpected! I didn’t think that anyone particularly made use of our calendar, except perhaps our own board members. All of our meetings are listed there.

I thought I’d share my technique for staying on top of the city’s rather confusing trash collection schedule; the Rollout! Houston app. A free smart phone app Rollout is available for both Apple and Android phones, also iPads.

Once installed you enter your zip code or allow the app to determine your location. It looks up the SWM schedule for that location, presenting it with a minimum of clutter or fuss. It’s dramatically simpler than using the COH website. You can instantly know what’s being collected this week, or to lookup the next time heavy trash or yard waste is being picked up.

Rollout! was created as part of a City of Houston Hackathon by Kenton Gray (@kentonue). Joel Cook helped with the design. Its creation dates back to when Annise Parker was mayor. I have found it to be a very reliable way to know when the trucks will be rolling through Woodland Heights.

If you have community events that you’d like added to our calendar, please email the details to communications@woodland-heights.org.

The new WHCA newsletter is on its way! by Michael Graves

The current edition of the WHCA newsletter is one of our special printed issues! The finished goods were returned from the printer on Tuesday. A few lucky households might have received theirs before we were beset by rain on Wednesday.

Our brave team of volunteer block captains are currently working to distribute them door-to-door. I would hope that everyone will get their copy in the coming few days.

If you’re in a hurry, you can download a PDF copy right here.

Infrastructure Corner by Michael Graves

The WHCA board would like to start a new feature providing periodic updates of infrastructure-related issues, both big and small, happening in and around the neighborhood. Infrastructure projects require both vision and funding. So we want to keep everyone informed of, not only what is going on, but how those projects are being funded. We’d also like to use this feature to invite feedback on infrastructure projects that you would like to see to improve the safety and enjoyment of our neighborhood. Email us at infrastructure@woodland-heights.org.

So what’s going on? Here are a few things . . .

Houston Ave & White Oak Intersection Nears Completion

If you haven’t seen it yet, the construction is almost finished at the intersection of Houston Ave and White Oak. The City removed the “slip road” connecting White Oak to Houston Ave, widened the sidewalks connecting Woodland Park to the White Oak Bayou Trail, and generally improved the pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure to make the intersection safer for all road users. There is even some green “kermit” striping for a bike lane. And, in case you were wondering, the clock tower is back in.

How was this project funded? It was primarily a combination of funds from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone # 5—or TIRZ 5—and the Greater Northside Management District. For those who don’t know, a “TIRZ” is a political entity in the City limits that retains a portion of property taxes within its district. TIRZ 5 is called “Memorial Heights,” which primarily covers areas surrounding Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou. It does not cover our neighborhood, but it comes close. On the other hand, the Greater Northside Management District covers our neighborhood and most of the Heights East of Yale and South of North Main. It’s funded by a property tax on local commercial businesses.

You can find more information on TIRZ 5 at https://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/tirz/5.html and on the Greater Northside Management District at http://www.greaternorthsidedistrict.org/home.shtml.

Road Diet and Bike Lane on Houston Ave (White Oak to Spring Street)

Remember the temporary bike lane on Houston Ave during recent construction to I-45? Thanks to City Council Member Karla Cisneros, that bike lane has been made permanent. She used funds from City Council District H to reduce the lanes on Houston Ave between White Oak and Spring Street from four to two (i.e., a “road diet”), and to install protected bike lanes on both sides of the street. This can be a key “North/South” connector between the two bayou trails. They call the barriers “armadillos.”

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You can find more information about both of these projects from a local blogger: http://houstreets.com/2019/06/03/houston-ave-white-oak-dr-redesign-complete/

More B-Cycle Stations

On Wednesday, May 30, 2019, Houston B-Cycle installed two new stations in the Heights. The first is at 11th Street and Heights Blvd (Heights Central Station) and the second is at 7th and Yale (Heights Mercantile). That brings the total number of stations in the Heights to five (Woodland Park, Stude Park, Bobcat Teddy’s, Heights Central Station, and Heights Mercantile), with a number of additional stations just outside of our area.

You may ask why at these locations? Because these developers helped fund the stations. Houston B-Cycle is currently operating on a large grant that requires local funding for 50% of each station, which ranges from $10-20k. You can find the full map B-Cycle station map here: http://houston.bcycle.com/station-map. Where else would you like to see a B-Cycle station in our neighborhood?

That’s it for now. We’d love to hear from you about infrastructure projects you’d like to see in and around the neighborhood. And please let us know of current or future projects you hear about. Again, email us at infrastructure@woodland-heights.org.

Brad Snead
WHCA Director of Infrastructure

About the 11th Street "Road Diet" by Michael Graves

Did you miss the meeting at Hogg Middle School last night regarding 11th Street? Here's the latest!

Ian Hlavacek and Lauren Grove presented a proposal to reconfigure 11th street between Shepherd and Michaux. The proposal, called a 'Road Diet', has been shown to:

a) accommodate existing and future traffic
b) will not divert traffic to side streets
c) reduce traffic speed
d) decrease unsafe driving maneuvers like weaving
e) introduce a safe east-west bike route
f) improve safety for people walking along and crossing 11th
g) increase safety for people using the Nicholson Trail
h) serve cross streets and driveways effectively
i) could increase travel time for drivers up to 30 seconds

Here's an article with a video that helps demonstrate how road diets work: https://www.vox.com/2018/7/25/17593344/road-diets-lane-conversion-traffic-calming-explained-video

Note that this configuration will also allow for the installation of 'pedestrian refuges,' or islands, which will make pedestrian crossings easier and safer. The City has received many calls and emails over the years from our community advocating for a safer crossing at the Nicholson Trail crossing at 11th. This configuration will make these safer crossings available at other spots as well, especially those that serve our kids on foot and bikes going to school.

These refuges are also planned for Studewood. This article illustrates how pedestrian refuges work: http://pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=19

Looking around our own neighborhood we have at least a few examples of four lanes reducing to two or three:

  • Studemont to Studewood as you travel north

  • Cavalcade to 20th

  • Waugh to Heights

To voice your comments:

  • ian.hlavacek@houstontx.gov

  • lauren.grove@houstontx.gov

  • jennifer.ostlind@houstontx.gov

Houston Bikeways 11th Street Public Meeting #2 by Michael Graves

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Wednesday, May 8 from 6:30-8pm at Hogg Middle School is the City of Houston’s second public meeting to discuss proposed street safety improvements along 11th street between Shepherd St. and Michaux St. We encourage everyone to attend.

The Planning Department and Houston Public Works have decided to table proposed bikeways on Pecore and the western section of 11th from Shepherd to T.C. Jester/White Oak Bayou. We will discuss this decision in further detail at the May 8th meeting.

We will present an overview of the 11th Street proposal between Shepherd and Michaux, focusing on detailed information and design concepts for the corridor and intersections. We may also discuss alternative routes to Pecore – where no changes to traffic patterns or parking are proposed.

PRESIDENT’S CALL: RESIDENTS TO THE RESCUE by Michael Graves

We need volunteers to help us help the neighborhood!

Okay, the enemy is not assailing our gates but that doesn’t lessen the need. Projects for the benefit of your neighborhood require people. It is my hope the neighborhood will step up and volunteer in sufficient numbers to staff our projects, plan the projects and work to make them a reality. I am making this plea to remind those willing to serve our neighborhood.

There are essentially three levels of volunteerism… Board Positions, Committee Positions and Adjutant to Board Positions.

Our board elections will be held in our next General Association meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. This is your opportunity to contribute on the broadest front. Be part of our planning process and use your skills and talents to chart the courses our projects will take. The Board positions up for election are:

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

  • Director – Infrastructure / Land Use

  • Director – Membership

All of these positions are two-year terms and will commence upon election. If you are interested in any of these positions, please complete the nomination form and send it to nominations@woodland-heights.org. Our Nominations committee can provide a description of the role and answer any questions you might have regarding the position.

As here are much broader range of tasks associated with the committees, a full description of duties involved with each task is beyond the scope of this article. As a summary, committee oversight will be handled by a committee chair who reports to a board member. Other committee members will be responsible for tasks specific to the committee’s overall charge. Such committees head-count will vary, ranging from as few as 3 to 5 all the way up to the low teens. We have two standing committees and several other committees we can only move forward with If the volunteer force is sufficient. Here are some of the committees in place or under consideration.

  • Lights In The Heights® – numerous subcommittees are necessary to ensure the smooth operation, safety and sanity of this landmark event

  • Home Tour – continue the successful coordination and implementation of this popular event

  • Sidewalks – evaluate our neighborhood for those sidewalks most in need of repair, work with the COH to develop a repair strategy and a plan to implementation the strategy

  • Urban Forestry – evaluate our neighborhood for those areas in which trees have suffered, work with local groups to develop replacement strategy and develop a plan to implement that strategy

  • IT / Data Management – Evaluate the needs Association, develop an integrated program to serve accounting, correspondence and data storage needs and develop a strategy to implement the program

  • Block Captains - fulfillment teams for each block are crucial data gathering and information dissemination

Finally, each of the board members can always use help. There are many opportunities for those interested in helping to forward the topics specific to any of the 9 current board members. The Adjutant to the Board Members will work in step with the Board Member to help move projects forward. From coordinating work with the neighborhood to working directly in formulation of projects, the Adjutants will not only be of great assistance, they will also be in a position to better understand the tasks and responsibilities of the various Board positions.

Okay, how do I sign up you may ask? I have attached a link to a form for WHCA volunteers. Click here to download the form in PDF format. You can mark your preference, and return the form to me at president@woodland-heights.org. If you prefer, you can simply make your selection from the form and send me an email noting your selection in the body of the email.

As always, I feel it would be inappropriate to close a call for volunteers without thanking those who have volunteered over the past. You know who you are but I would like to make a special thanks to those folks instrumental in making our Home Show such a success as well as those who work so tirelessly to make Lights In The Heights® a special event as well as a credit to our neighborhood. Certainly, our Board Members who are stepping down, Debbie Hall, Sharon Greiff, Jay Francis and Matt Johnson are worthy of thanks.

Please reach into your time wallet and donate generously to your home neighborhood.

Harry McMahon
President
Woodland Heights Civic Association

Creature Feature: NikKi Prochaska! by Michael Graves

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This month I'm exercising canine editorial privilege to acclaim Ms Niki Prochaska as the Creature Feature! Niki lives at 204 Byrne with Mike & Kamile Prochaska and Family. She just this past weekend reached her 14th birthday, which is a major milestone for a Labrador Retriever. In years past, she'd say hello to Shadow and I. Julio and I still see her regularly when we get down to Byrne Street. She's always ready to greet us and give us a wag.

According to Kamile, "Niki is a wonderful dog! Although she is 14 and weighs 80lbs. Her preference is to be a lap dog. She follows us around the house and lays her body as close to us as possible at all times, and if we do not pay attention to her, she commands attention by barking at us until we do. No one can be hugged in our house without her included. Her body may be slow, but she has the mind of a 2 year old puppy! She loves to play, bark at birds and garbage trucks, and chase cats!"

Niki is an inspiration. I hope I do as well at that age. - Gwen Espinosa-Graves

Your Canine Contributing Editor

Your Canine Contributing Editor

We call this the “Creature Feature” highlighting the fact that we’d welcome pics that are not pets. Birders! I’m talking to you! See an especially great turtle in the park, grab a pic with your phone. Send it along to communications@woodland-heights.org.

Yard-of-the-Month: The Garden At Travis Elementary School by Michael Graves

While there are many lovely flower-filled front beds to choose from in our neighborhood this month, I am overwhelmed with the variety and range on offer in our own elementary school garden! Many of us shuttle along the garden path five mornings a week to see our kids to school, but it's worth taking a few extra moments to absorb the nature there.

The Travis Garden has been under the guidance of neighbor, teacher, grandmother, and Army veteran Christina West for nearly two years, with the help of volunteers, teachers, and students. When I asked her if we could choose the Travis Garden for May Yard of the Month, she was delighted!

Ms. West says every morning she loves riding her bike to Travis Elementary School along the leafy streets past her neighbors' flowering gardens.  The Travis gardens are at the east end of Redan and have a fence covered with muscadine grapes and bordered by fig trees.  Inside, there are 30 beds, one for each class at the school and five others that are filled with wildflowers and small trees.

In the fall, as soon as it is cool enough, students plant vegetables and herbs, and continue planting throughout the winter months.  They plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chard, beets, lettuce, arugula, bok choi, cilantro, onions, potatoes, chives, dill, and carrots.  Many are planted from seed and students watch them grow week by week until they can harvest and eat them. Their favorite eating experiences are: kale smoothies, broccoli pasta, blanched broccoli, salads of cabbage, carrot and lettuce, herb butter with chives/rosemary/oregano, mashed potatoes, chard roll-ups with apples and sun butter, and, of course, raw carrots. In spring, each class garden plants a tomato and some peppers, cucumbers, and beans.

Ms. West tells us "Perhaps the students' favorite part of the garden is the pond, that has a small cascade of water and a marshy area with purple lotus flowers and a slightly deeper pool visited by toads each spring that leave hundreds and hundreds of eggs in long strands.  Turtles also visit our pond, as well as many migrating birds, such as American goldfinch, Cedar waxwings, and American robins.

"Around the edges of the Travis garden are "pollinator gardens", sometimes called "insectiaries".  Many of our vegetables depend on pollination, so it is important to invite bees, wasps, and butterflies into our garden.  Students enjoy watching these insects that are so helpful to our community.  Gardens also need compost piles which can manage the waste from gardens and then provide rich soil.  Students love running over to the compost bins and tearing up the spent leaves of our broccoli, kale, and chard.  (Just a reminder: tomato and potato leaves should never go into compost piles)." - Christina West

"A garden is a grand teacher," naturalist Gertrude Jekyll wrote. We are so fortunate to have this rich resource here in our neighborhood, for our kids, birds, beetles, butterflies and more.

Stay tuned for an opportunity to tour the garden with Ms. West and learn more. The Travis Elementary Garden is supported by the school's PTA, grants, donations, and volunteers. If you are interested in helping in some way, please contact beautification@woodland-heights.org and we will put you in touch.

And an honorable mention goes to 923 Teetshorn, nominated by a neighbor for their nice flower beds. Well done!

Pecore Street Houston Bike Plan by Michael Graves

Woodland Heights Neighbors—

As you may know, the City of Houston (COH) is modifying certain major connector streets around our neighborhood to: 1. increase vehicular, bike, and pedestrian safety; 2. increase connectivity; and 3. improve traffic flow.

As a part of the plan, COH has proposed a major update to 11th Street, extending from Timbergrove to the point where 11th meets Pecore at Michaux. The initial COH plan included Pecore too—removing all street parking and adding bike lanes on both sides from Michaux to Houston Avenue. However, COH has put the Pecore section of the plan on hold for now (but is still planning to implement the 11th Street section). We want to explain why.

The initial plan was to for 11th/Pecore to act as a major cross-Heights bike connector from Timbergrove to the Near Northside. Along 11th, bike lanes will be added to both sides, a turn lane in the center, and four lanes of traffic reduced to two. Refuge islands will also be added at major pedestrian/bike crossings, such as Nicholson. COH studies show that this will still accommodate the volume of traffic while increasing safety for pedestrians, bikers, and cars. Initially, the same modification was proposed for Pecore all the way to Houston Avenue, minus the center turn lane and removing all street parking.

After the plan was presented by COH planners at our general meeting on Tuesday, March 19, the WHCA Board heard from a number of neighbors who were concerned about the removal of parking on Pecore (as well as several who supported the plan). On Friday April 19, we sent the following letter to Mayor Turner, several city council members, and the COH planners in charge of the project:

“Dear Mayor Turner,

I am writing on behalf of the Woodland Heights Civic Association Board of Directors. We wanted to commend you for your efforts to make Houston a city which is safer and more friendly to cyclists. Although it is not in our Association footprint, we want to express our personal commendations for your effort to make the intersection at 11th Street and Nicholson Street safer for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

However, we are expressing our concern regarding the plan to remove all the street parking from Pecore Street. As you likely know, our Association is dominated by historic bungalows which commonly do not have wide driveways and two-car garages. By removing all the street parking from Pecore, the Associations residents living on that street would be put under undue hardship.”

Three hours later, we were notified by COH that they were “tabling the Pecore proposal…due to the many concerns [they] heard.” As an alternative, the east end of the 11th Street bike lanes would connect to a north-south bike route on Michaux, ending at Stude Park and the White Oak bike trail. This segment would not include dedicated bike lanes, but would add improved signage along the route and improve the intersection of Michaux and White Oak.

Subsequently, we heard from COH planners that they tabled the Pecore section not only because of concerns from residents, but because they don’t have an existing safe bike connection on the east side to connect to (presumably where Pecore meets Houston Ave). In the future, COH intends to pursue high-comfort bike lanes on Main Street. They may restart the conversation regarding Pecore at that time.

COH will have another public meeting at 7 pm on May 8 at Hogg Middle School to discuss 11th Street, Pecore, Michaux, and other future plans. We encourage Woodland Heights neighbors to attend.

As always, feel free to contact the WHCA Board if you have any questions or concerns.

Thanks,

Matt Johnson
Director of Infrastructure
WHCA Board of Directors

Wanted: A Few Good Neighbors! by Michael Graves

Hi Woodland Heights -

  1. Do you want to get more involved in the issues that face our wonderful neighborhood?

  2. Do you have a strong opinion about the future of the Woodland Heights or the WHCA and its mission?

  3. Do you want to get to know better some of the wonderful and talented people in this great neighborhood?

  4. Do you have talents in accounting, legal, social media, public relations, technology, fundraising or just a love of the history of the neighborhood you'd like to volunteer to our great neighborhood?

If so - then you should think about joining the Woodland Heights Civic Association Board for the 2019 - 2021 term, which starts June 1, 2019 and runs through May 31, 2021.

If you (or someone you know) are interested in a WHCA board position for the two-year term, please send an email to the nominating committee at nominations@woodland-heights.org. All candidates that wish to run for office (including those current board members running for re-election) must return a nomination form into the nomination committee one day prior to the election on March 14th.

Feel free to speak directly with a member of the nomination committee or an existing board member about these positions. The nominating committee members are:

  • Matt Johnson (Board Member)

  • Melissa Sternfels (Board Member)

  • Pat Rutledge (Non-Board Member)

  • Lauren Lindsay (Non-Board Member)

  • Estella Espinosa (Non-Board Member)

All WHCA Board members must be current homeowner members of the WHCA.

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Descriptions of the open board positions are below:

SECRETARY

The WHCA Secretary is tasked with recording all meetings in a timely and organized fashion. The Secretary acts as the official record keeper for the organization.

Duties and responsibilities of the WHCA secretary:

  1. Ensuring meetings are effectively organized and minutes kept in a timely manner

  2. Maintaining effective records and administration

  3. Upholding the legal requirements of governing documents

  4. Communication and correspondence via email and print

  5. Posting minutes online and maintaining a WHCA binder of documents, including minutes, sign-in sheets, records, correspondence, agendas, etc.

  6. Setting up and monitoring membership sign-in at general meetings

  7. Assisting the President and other board members with other duties as needed

  8. Attending board meetings and general meetings

 Technical demands of the position

  1. Time Commitment: The job of secretary requires 6-12 hours per month.

  2. Familiarity with MS Word, MS Excel and Adobe PDF.

  3. Use of Dropbox and other online tools for management and storage of documents.

  4. Participating in communications online via email in a timely manner

 TREASURER

The WHCA Treasurer is tasked with maintaining financial records, including periodic reporting to the WHCA, as well as payment of bills and invoices, maintaining bank accounts and providing support for special events.

Duties and responsibilities of the WHCA Treasurer:

  1. Maintaining financial records including filing of tax information to both State and Federal Entities.

  2. Maintaining bank accounts and pay resources (paypal/stripe)

  3. Payment of bills and Invoices

  4. Assisting with budgeting and providing oversight

  5. Providing support and oversight for special events

  6. Maintain tracking for Sponsorship, Special Events, Sales and programs (membership and constables)

  7. Review and recommend insurance for organization, directors and special events

Technical Demands of the position:

  1. Time Commitment: The job of treasurer requires 10-20 hours per month. This will depend upon beginning of year membership drives and special events

  2. Familiarity with Non-Profit Accounting software, MS Word, MS Excel, Adobe PDF.

  3. Use of Dropbox and other online tools for management and storage of documents.

  4. Participating in communications online via email in a timely manner.)

 DIRECTOR, MEMBERSHIP

 The WHCA Director of Membership is responsible for enrolling new and existing members in the organization, as well as for general promotion of the organization and its aims to the greater Woodland Heights community.

 Duties and responsibilities of the Director of Membership:

  1.  Keep records of new and existing members.

  2. Provide information regarding the WHCA and its mission to new and existing residents of the neighborhood.

  3. Provide input/suggestions to expand/ improve services and add value to membership.

  4. Actively recruit new members and promote and encourage participation in the WHCA

  5. Assess membership needs through instruments such as surveys and questionnaires or other methods suggested by the board, and communicate member needs to the board.

  6. Manage block captains and direct neighborhood outreach efforts. 

  7. Provide welcome packages to new residents in the neighborhood.

  8. Assisting the President and other board members with other duties as needed

  9. Attending board meetings and general meetings

 Technical demands of the position

  1. Time Commitment: The Membership position requires 6-12 hours per month.

  2. Willingness to promote and lobby for WHCA to residents.

  3. Familiarity with MS Word and Adobe PDF.

  4. Use of Dropbox and other online tools for management and storage of documents.

  5. Participating in communications online via email in a timely manner

 DIRECTOR, INFRASTRUCTURE/LAND USE

 The WHCA Director of Infrastructure/Land Use is tasked with assisting the neighborhood with infrastructure-related issues (streetscapes, sidewalks, water systems, lighting.) This position interfaces with the City of Houston Public Works regarding public works, civil engineering issues, traffic and related issues. In addition, this role is responsible for questions or concerns about land use issues related to building codes, zoning, lot size and use, and similar concerns.

 Duties and responsibilities of the Director of Infrastructure/Land Use:

  1.  Interface with City of Houston Public Works regarding civil, public works, streetscape, and related issues.

  2. Maintain or account for the public infrastructures for which the WHCA is responsible (electricity on the esplanades etc.)

  3. Act as a resource for members with land use questions or concerns, whether on private property or public.

  4. Spearhead initiatives toward neighborhood improvement that extend beyond beautification (i.e. planning issues, code issues, etc.)

  5. Assisting the President and other board members with other duties as needed .

  6. Attending board meetings and general meetings

 Technical demands of the position

  1.  Time Commitment: The Infrastructure position requires 6-12 hours per month.

  2. Familiarity with City of Houston communication protocols.

  3. Some familiarity with land use, codes, deed restrictions, and similar issues.

  4. Familiarity with MS Word and Adobe PDF.

  5. Use of Dropbox and other online tools for management and storage of documents.

  6. Participating in communications online via email in a timely manner