Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another morning at city hall

At the end of June I told my co-workers and my husband that I had made my last trip to City Hall. Who knew I’d be back the first week of July?  This time to speak in support of the Mayor’s new Department of Neighborhoods.  Catherine Flowers, the new proposed Director, came to Westbury’s June WAIC meeting. Cindy Chapman and I gave her the nickel  tour of Westbury along with our Citizen’s Assistance Office liaison Veronica Hernandez and Catherine’s assistant, Kanyae.  We showed them the good, the bad and the UGLY! We took her to the Platou Center and she wondered why it hadn’t been painted and why the tennis courts didn’t have appropriate nets.  Guess what? The center has a new coat of paint and the courts have new nets! Thanks Catherine.
The Good: we drove through the shaded streets of Westbury showing off nice homes with pretty well kept yards, landscaped esplanades, the Willow Waterhole and the Westbury Community Garden.  The Bad:  We drove down one street of chronic yard parkers (4 of them in one block); this same street had at least 5 heavy trash violators; and just around the corner the man who continues to repair cars in his driveway despite a cease and desist letter from the City. The Ugly: We showed her 12540 Hillcroft and Westbury Square both of whom have repair or demolish orders that are stalled in the courts. We showed her the Taco truck and day laborers gathering illegally across the street.
We showed her all that is wonderful in Westbury so that she would know why we need Neighborhood Protection and the City of Houston to take care of the Bad and the Ugly.
But back to City Hall. I don’t know the specifics of the budget or the wording of the code/ordinance before City Council to create this department, but I do know that the protection of neighborhoods is imperative to the future of Houston.  A few bad apples can spoil a whole neighborhood. I told our City Council that we needed more Neighborhood Protection.  Interestingly two other people mentioned Westbury; CM Wanda Adams who was chair of this committee mentioned us by name and David Robinson, president of the SuperNeighborhood Alliance, also mentioned Wesbury when he spoke.  We are becoming known!  Cindy, Janie, Priscilla and I wore our Westbury Improving tshirts the week before so that we would  stand out. However that didnt happen. About 100 bikers showed up to protest an officer who had been ticketing motorcyclists for excessive noise and we just looked like biker mamas in our black tshirts!
At today's session, Robin Blut of Keep Houston Beautiful spoke before me and she quoted a study that was done to determine what makes a community desirable. She said it was: social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet, openness (how welcoming a place is), and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces). I found their website  Very interesting….but that will be food for thought for another day! 

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