NTMP Plan Moves Forward with Temporary Speed Cushions by Michael Graves

Dear neighbors,

I wanted to inform you about the installation of the speed cushions you may have seen going in around the neighborhood. The Woodland Heights Civic Association board remains neutral about traffic calming, but it is important for us to convey correct information to the community.

Today I spoke to Khang Nguyen at the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering (PWE) department. He's given me the definitive information regarding the speed cushions. What follows is a step-by-step explanation of what is happening:

  1. Seventeen temporary asphalt speed cushions are being installed: one on Michaux, four on Watson, three on Beauchamp, two on Euclid, two on Bayland, one on Merrill, and four on Pecore.
  2. Yes, these are temporary speed cushions. They can be pulled up at any point and the street repaired.
  3. The streets are being milled in order to accept the speed cushions. Without milling, the asphalt can come loose. So grooves are milled into the streets.
  4. Because our streets are primarily asphalt, PWE determined that asphalt was better than rubber, which can sometimes come loose on an asphalt base (rubber is bolted, whereas asphalt adheres through melting.)
  5. Also, rubber can come loose with high volume traffic. In some locations, PWE measured high use and felt asphalt was best.
  6. Once milling is done, asphalt cushion installation will start right away, possibly even today. They will finish a few streets each day, so it may be finished by mid-next week.
  7. Once the speed cushions are installed, PWE will paint striping on them for visibility.
  8. After roughly 90 days (September/October), PWE will complete a second traffic study assessing the effectiveness of the cushions.
  9. The traffic study will examine three things: overall speed, enhanced or reduced traffic volume, and traffic shifting to other streets.
  10. Once the study is complete, PWE will hold a public hearing and collect comments again. This will be around November/December.
  11. At that point, the neighborhood could (a) accept all of the new speed cushions, (b) ask than some be removed but others remain, or (c) reject all of the new speed cushions.
  12. Based on those comments, they will then take the study to the City Council for final approval. If the council agrees that the speed cushions are working, they become permanent.
  13. If, however, the community or council rejects the speed cushions, they will be removed and the roads patched to their prior state.

That's the entire process, as detailed by Khang Nguyen at PWE.

Matt Johnson
WHCA VP Infrastructure

WHCA Constable Patrol Update: March-May 2017 by Michael Graves

Subscriber Stats

We have a little more than 350 subscribers and have received some generous additional donations from our neighbors, totaling about $119k. We have also received a $10k contribution from Greystar and, as I mentioned before, we had about $10k in surplus from the prior year. That brings us to about $139k. Our goal for two-deputy shifts is $153k, so we are getting closer but are not there yet. As it stands, we are a little more than one month short, or about 45 more subscribers. We would need even more to maintain our surplus for next year.

That said, we have a number of people who have signed up for auto-renewal and are scheduled to “renew” over the next few months, but have not yet done so. If that is you, please consider contacting us and renewing now. If you have not subscribed or renewed, please consider doing so. And if you know someone who would like to participate but cannot afford to pay the full amount, please have them contact me.

Crime Stats

Here is a summary of the criminal activity in our neighborhood from March through May.

Crime Map

Here is a map giving a snapshot of the criminal activity over the last three months combined (22 incidents).

Legend: car (thefts of/from vehicle); star (burglaries); ring (other theft); hand (violent crime); whistle (sexual assault). Data is available at https://goo.gl/vFfDmT.

Constable Patrol Activity

Wonder what our Constables do, other than generally patrol the neighborhood to be seen and prevent crime? Here is a summary of “Contract Activity Report.”

Bonus. For those who may be curious, here is a map of our contract area:

We remind everyone for a crime in progress, please call 911 first. If our deputies are on duty, they should be monitoring those calls, though you can also call Precinct One dispatch after calling 911 for crimes in progress.

Do not hesitate to call Precinct One for something that doesn’t look right. Our deputies want you to err on the side of calling things in. Our neighborhood is big, and you can help direct our deputies to suspicious activity.

Brad Snead
VP-Security WHCA

Hogg Middle School Registration by Michael Graves

Zoned to Hogg MS and planning to attend in August? Registration for new students is June 12-15 from 8:30-11:30am & 2:30-4:30pm.

Bring the following:
1.) parent/guardian ID;
2.) proof of residency (current utility bill, HCAD tax bill or current lease);
3.) the student's shot record; and
4) the student's last report card.

Magnet students who have already provided these documents to Ms. Andrade are registered for next year.

Call us if you have any questions: 713-802-4700.

Yard Of The Month: 501 Highland by Michael Graves

This months yard of the month goes to 501 Highland St for their fantastic bird and butterfly garden. Denise and Todd Liebl spent 2 years painstakingly renovating one of the few original stucco homes in our neighborhood and their garden is a pleasure that the whole neighborhood gets to enjoy. Hats off to them for bringing this old house and garden back to life. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Houston High-Speed Rail Watch Proposal by Michael Graves

You may recall that Alicia Nuzzie of Houston High-Speed Rail Watch made a presentation to the WHCA General Meeting on May 9th. They followed up on that appearance, sending WHCA a copy of their detailed position paper along with a map of their proposal.

Executive Summary

If the proposed Texas Bullet Train or HSR plans were to move forward, we are advocating for an elevated METRORail (light rail line) that would run down the center lanes of I-10 to connect HSR's end terminus near the Northwest Transit Center with downtown. We believe this light rail connection would unify scattered strands of Houston's public transportation network and facilitate connectivity to downtown for HSR riders, without adversely affecting neighborhood communities. It would also serve Houston-area commuters and promote a reduction of cars on the road. Plus, with a modest number of stops, it becomes an express rail line attractive to both local commuters and high-speed rail riders traveling into downtown.

For more information visit the Houston High-Speed Rail Watch web site and download their position paper.

Good neighbors volunteer their time to improve our green spaces by Michael Graves

The Woodland Heights Civic Association would like to thank our good samaritan neighbors Sarah and Kyle Cox of LMC (https://lmchouston.com/) who volunteered to clear out a terrible overgrown eyesore of a green space by the Watson bridge across from Elan Heights.  We could not have done it without you and your crew!  

Watson Clean Up: Before

Watson Clean Up: Before

Watson Cleanup: After!

Watson Cleanup: After!

We are very proud of what a community effort has accomplished in this green space and we'd like to thank the several neighbors in the 2300 block of Watson who mow the city property across the street from their homes to keep it clean and safe for the rest of the neighborhood.

AIA Houston City Landmarks Night by Michael Graves

The AIA Historic Resources Committee, partnered with the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and Preservation Houston's Pier & Beam, is excited to announce an event that provides an opportunity for individuals to participate in preserving Houston’s history.

The City of Houston owns many important public buildings and facilities that are candidates for local designation. However, there is little to no information about the properties, which is how you can help!

The Historic Resources Committee aims to inform individuals about these properties and sign up interested parties to research and write about a specific subject to pass along to the city. If you aren’t interested in writing a report, come anyway! Meet fellow preservationists and learn about how to access the HMRC’s architectural collections for fun or for future projects.

Event Overview:
City staff will give a short presentation on the basics needed for a landmark designation report, followed by an Architectural Orientation of the Texas Room by Architectural Archivist, Samantha Bruer. Come for part or for all.

Download To Calendar
May 10, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Julia Ideson Library
500 McKinney
Houston, TX 77002

Register Online at the AIA Houston web site.

WHCA General Meeting, Tuesday May 9th at 7pm by Michael Graves

The WHCA will have a general meeting this coming Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM at Hogg Middle School. Please come out to hear updates from your neighbors about what is going on in and around our neighborhood.

In addition to hearing updates from each board member, we will also hear from several guest speakers including:

Please come out to hear about these important topics for our neighborhood as well as the chance to network and connect with your neighbors about any issues or concerns that are important to you and our wonderful neighborhood, the Woodland Heights.

Hope to see everyone there.

HPD: Citywide Positive Interaction Program Meeting by Michael Graves


Please join HPD on May 9th at 7 p.m. for the Citywide Positive Interaction Program Meeting and meet members of HPD's Mounted Patrol. 

Focusing on the three “C’s” – Crime, Community and Crowds the unit enhances the livability and viability of our great City. 

On any given day you may see members of the Mounted Patrol crushing crime, keeping the peace at protests, interacting with the community during demonstrations, searching for missing persons, and even riding in a parade. 

The Citywide PIP meetings are held at the Houston Police Officers Union, 1602 State Street. 
For more information, please contact Senior Police Officer James Sobota at 713-308-9079 or james.sobota@houstonpolice.org. 

***The Citywide PIP meeting is open to everyone to come and see what the Positive Interaction Program is about; although, we encourage you to join your divisional PIP groups which can be found here http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pip/divisional.htm

TxDOT: North Houston Highway Improvement Project Public Hearings by Michael Graves

The following is from the notice sent by TxDOT to anyone who has expressed an interest or registered a comment about the project.

Join us to provide your input on the proposed North Houston Highway Improvement Project! The proposed North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) includes the following improvements:

  • Adding four managed express lanes (also known as MaX lanes) on I-45 from Beltway 8 North to downtown Houston
  • Reconstructing I-45 mainlanes and frontage roads from Beltway 8 North to downtown Houston
  • Rerouting of I-45 in the downtown area to be coincident with I-10 on the north side of downtown and coincident with US 59/I-69 on the east side of downtown
  • Removal of the existing elevated I-45 roadway along the west and south sides of downtown
  • Adding access to the west side of downtown via “Downtown Connectors” that would allow access to and from various downtown streets
  • Realigning both I-10 and US 59/I-69 within the proposed project area to eliminate the current roadway curvature
  • Adding four I-10 express lanes between I-45 and US 59/I-69

Public scoping meetings have already been conducted in 2011 and 2012, as well as a series of public meetings in 2013 and 2015 to present information. The public hearings will present the recommended alternatives and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review:

 NHHIP Public Hearings

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
St. Pius X High School
811 West Donovan Street Houston, TX 77091
Open House: 5:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Houston Community College Central Campus
San Jacinto Building
1300 Holman Street Houston, TX 77004
Open House: 5:30 p.m. 
Public Hearing: 6:30 p.m.

The first part of the meeting will be an open house format so citizens may come and go at their convenience, followed by a formal presentation and comment period. Please note: The same information will be presented at both meetings. The hearing will be conducted in English with simultaneous Spanish translation. Comments must be postmarked or emailed by Tuesday, June 27, 2017, to be part of the official hearing record.

Special accommodations: If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this meeting, please call the public information officer at (713) 802-5076 at least five working days prior to the meeting. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate these needs.

The environmental review, consultation and other actions required by applicable federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by TxDOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated Dec. 16, 2014, and executed by FHWA and TxDOT.

We also encourage you to see the online meeting notice as well as the I45NorthandMore project website.

Contact Information

Please note: This email is an automated notification, which is unable to be monitored. We're happy to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Please contact the Houston Public Information Office at HOU-piowebmail@txdot.gov or at 713-802-5076 at any time about this project. 

The I-45 Project – Planning Stage is coming to an end! by Michael Graves

From the Editor - WH neighbor Jim West has made a huge effort to stay abreast of TxDOTs plans for I-45 expansion. What follows is derived from his most recent update posted to NextDoor, reproduced here with permission.

The I-45 Project – Planning Stage is coming to an end! This next meeting is a HEARING - much different from the public meetings that TxDOT has been holding. 

This HEARING is the last meeting where the public will be heard! After a short comment period following the hearing, nothing else will go on record about the project. 

After the Hearing, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be completed – estimated to be complete next year – in 2018. Then a R.O.D. (Record of Decision) – also in 2018. And TxDOT will immediately start acquiring Right-of-way where needed and finish designs. 1st phase of construction will begin on Segment 3 (downtown) – estimated to start in 2020. 

There are only 2 HEARINGS scheduled at this time. You may remember that normally there were 3 meetings including one held at Jeff Davis High School (now Northside High School). Northside is currently being renovated so no meeting can be held there. We are asking TxDOT for a meeting that is convenient to Segment 2… but so far, no luck. 

As a quick summary, there are 3 Segments involved in the project:

  • Segment 1 (610 to Beltway 8) 
  • Segment 2 (610 to I-10)
  • Segment 3 (the Downtown Loop) 

We are currently in the final year of an approximately 12-year planning phase. TxDOT has held 4 public meetings – in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Part of this project, is the re-routing of I-45 at Pierce Elevated and moving it to be coincident with I-10 on the north side of downtown and coincident with US-59 on the east side of Downtown. Directly east of George Brown Convention both US-59 and I-45 will be below-grade.

This is a major project that is estimated to cost between $6 Billion and $7 Billion, WITHOUT right-of-way costs included. 

I am part of the I-45 Coalition, which is an all-volunteer group that was formed to address issues related to the planned construction of I-45 and to work with TxDOT to ensure that the pending construction comply with these 3 tenets:

  1. No expansion beyond the existing right-of-way
  2. Alternative means of transportation must be explored
  3. No negative impact on the neighborhoods quality of life.

We have not been very successful in these 3 tenets...but we have helped improve the project. 

Regarding ROW in Segment 1 – 212 acres of land will be taken; Segment 2 – 19 acres of land and in Segment 3 – 79 acres of land. 

In Segment 2 – the North St. Bridge will be removed. The main roadway of I-45 will be raised to almost grade level at North St. so it is impossible with the current engineering to have any bridge there. 

If you have commented or attended any of the prior meetings before, you should have received, or will soon receive notification via USPS of the 2 meetings locations from TxDOT. 

Hearings: Locations & Dates

Tuesday, May 9th
St. Pius X High School
811 W. Donovan Street
Houston, TX 77091

Thursday, May 11th
Houston Community College – Central Campus
1300 Holman Street - San Jacinto Building
Houston, TX 77004 

Displays will be available for viewing at 5:30 pm, formal hearing starts at 6:30 pm. 

Please review TxDOT’s plan, maps & designs on their website, www.ih45northandmore.com. As of today, the documents that will be shown at the hearing are NOT on the website…but they should be there soon. 

One major concern I have was in the announcement of the public hearing that was on the web-site. It states…”Some of the design changes are not included in the current evaluation of alternatives …. but will be presented at the Public Hearing and included and evaluated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement”. This means that TxDOT could present changes at the Public Hearing that folks will see for the very 1st time. Then we must evaluate all consequences of the change(s) and speak up at the very same meeting…which is the final meeting on the project! 

This seems to be exactly opposite method of trying to build consensus with the taxpayers and stakeholders. There will be a comment period to June 3rd or later (I haven’t seen the official deadline) … but the whole purpose of having meetings for more than 10 years with the community is to develop a project that the public agrees with and supports … last minute changes do not support that concept. 

It seems that now that we are down to the final meeting/HEARING – it is simple wrong to propose design changes that NO ONE HAS SEEN. Hopefully, any changes that TxDOT presents are ones that the community have requested…but it seems like proposed design changes should at least be on the TxDOT web site months before the HEARING! ...not the day of the HEARING! 

It is critical that you attend either Hearing (or both!) This truly is the last opportunity to have your voice heard! Please stay involved or get involved!

WHCA Financial Update April 2016 - March 2017 by Michael Graves

* Some of the money related to the Home Tour (April 2016) was properly recorded in the financial statements for the prior Fiscal Year (April 2015 – March 2016) when it was either received or paid. Therefore, Home Tour Revenues and Expenses shown above for the current Fiscal Year (April 2016 – March 2017) do not include the full amounts earned by the event. In total, Home Tour Revenues were $37,802 and Expenses were $5,288, creating a net inflow of $32,514 for the WHCA.

FWP: Light The Night Event Reminder by Michael Graves

Friends of Woodland Park invites Houston to our celebration of Firefly Field on April 29th from 7pm to 9:30pm at Woodland Park.

This free, family-friendly event is the biggest event we've ever done. We'll have food trucks, face painting, fun activities for the kids, a prize raffle and live music from funk/soul/rock band, Supreme Tabby. It's a Houston-sized party for its second-oldest park.

Visit the event on Facebook. Please let us know you're going and share with your friends.

USPS informed delivery will show scans of customer mail as mail is processed by Michael Graves

You can now see the mail destined for your mailbox before it arrives. The service is called Informed Delivery. It works like this: USPS digitally images the front of mail pieces that run through its automation equipment. An email is generated each day your household has mail that is processed through automation equipment. If no mail is processed through automation that day, you will not get a notice. Package imaging is not available.

Activating Informed Delivery service requires opening an account online at usps.com. Verification of your identity requires you to answer a number of questions. The online verification process is not always successful, so the fallback is to go to in person to a USPS location to sign up. 

The nearest substation to Woodland Heights where you can sign up is River Oaks, 1900 West Gray. However, River Oaks substation is not open on Saturday. The nearest substation to Woodland Heights at which you can get verified in person on Saturday is Oak Forest, located at 2499 Judiway at East T.C. Jester. The Oak Forest substation is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 12 noon. It is also open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Historic District Design Guidelines Available online and at Heights Library by Michael Graves

Historic Preservation Design Guidelines, a strategy report, is now available online and in hard copy at the Heights Library reference desk, where it will be retained on a permanent basis. There are three copies of the Design Guidelines, but the volumes are for in-library use only. A coin-operated copy machine is available at the Heights Library; black-and-white copies cost 15 cents per page. The report is contained in a three-ring binder, which makes copying easy.

In addition to the Design Guidelines report, videos of earlier Historic District community workshops are available online at the project’s webpage: http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/Design-Guidelines-Heights.html

The next Community Workshop for Historic Districts is scheduled for Tuesday, June 20, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Heights Fire Station, 107 West 12th Street. 

For more information, contact Steph McDougal, project manager, City of Houston Planning & Development Dept., 832-393-6541, or email: steph.mcdougal@houstontx.gov.

Houston Innovation Week 2017 by Michael Graves

Houston Innovation Week 2017 will be at the Leonel Castillo Center May 1st-5th . Classes on Thursday, May 4th will be entirely in Spanish.

Over 30 free, one-hour business and financial education sessions will be offered on leadership, innovation, financial success, marketing, and social entrepreneurship.

People can sign up and get more info on the website:  https://peoplefund.org/iwhou/