And the Walls Came Tumbling Down…
|Mayor Annise Parker and Council Member Mike Laster with members of the demolition crew
Yesterday, Monday, October 22, 2012, was the perfect day for a demolition!
Around 1:00 p.m., a crowd joined Mayor Parker and myself across the street from the Winfield I Condominiums located on Forum Park in the heart of the Westwood community. We came together to watch the demolition of those condominiums.
Within a month of taking the oath of office as the District J Council Member, I was approached by a delegation from The Metropolitan Organization and representatives of the neighborhood surrounding the Winfield I Condominiums. That delegation told a horrifying story about how Winfield I had come to be the bane of that neighborhood’s existence. The complex – home to working class families and too many absentee landlords – had experienced and produced stress for years. In 2007 a fire gutted part of the complex requiring the Fire Marshall to declare the complex a safety hazard for the residents and the neighborhood in 2008. Since that time, those local owners who actually lived in the facility were forced to relocate at great cost to themselves. Mismanagement of the property heightened the residents’ woes. A lengthy period of legal wrangling left the owners and property facing economic and physical ruin. Sitting empty for all these years, the property became a dumping ground for trash, a camping ground for vagrants, and ground zero for prostitution, vandalism, and drug activity. The surrounding neighbors were under siege.
Upon learning of the blight of this property and the plight of the neighbors, your District J office immediately set to work to do everything possible to get this facility secured, cleaned up and demolished. The enormity of the task required that we work closely with the Department of Neighborhoods, the Legal Department, and the Houston Police Department’s Differential Response Team. This combined team was able to locate the remaining owners of the property. The City’s team began negotiations with the owners to have the property secured and demolished. Faced with the threat of expensive fines and related costs, the owners agreed to demolish the property at their own cost utilizing funds they had received as the result of their lawsuits against the management company for the complex. No public dollars were used to demolish this property.
So, the events of Monday have been a long time coming. After years of fighting to clean up the site the neighborhood now has some relief.
As I said, it took a team of persons to bring about the demolition of these condominiums. Allow me to thank your District J staff members, Sharon Shanahan, Matt Brollier, Leah Olive-Nishioka and Jeremy Brown, for all their hard work. Additionally, Katye Tipton, Director of the Department of Neighborhoods and her staff members, Greg Mackey, Mayra Hypolite, and Todd Curry were instrumental in this effort. Donna Edmundson and Sandra Eidson of the Legal Department performed yeoman’s work in helping us navigate the legal course of this task. HDP Officers Lt. Jerome Stevens, Capt. Mike Skillern, Sgt. Neil Maurer, Sgt. Mike Hill, and Officer Mike Prause helped bring the resources and expertise of the HPD Differential Response Team to the table.
Additionally, Frank Olson and Beryl Hogshead and others with The Metropolitan Organization should be commended in continuing to keep this project on everyone’s front burner. Ms. Lisa Lum, President of the neighboring Winfield II Condominium Association and her board of directors and residents have been on the frontlines of fighting to get this eyesore removed and cleaned up. Thanks to all of these folks for not giving up the fight to protect and improve their neighborhood.
Finally, a word of thanks to the owners and residents of Winfield I Condominiums for using their hard earned resources to do the right thing and demolish these dangerous buildings.
I am grateful for the hard work and perseverance of each of these persons and groups in bringing about these results. It is an honor to work with folks committed to making District J a better place to live and raise our families.
It truly took a village to make this day a reality.
Call me an optimist, but I can’t help but believe that when we all pull together we can do great things.
– Mike Laster, Council Member – District J
REMINDER: New Heavy Trash Schedule goes into effect November 1
The District J office would like to remind you that Solid Waste Management’s new heavy trash pick up schedule will be effective November 1.
Tree Waste and junk waste collection will still occur in alternating months, odd-numbered months for tree waste (January, March, May, July, September, November) and even-numbered months for junk waste (February, April, June, August, October, December), but on the new heavy trash pick up day designated for your neighborhood.
*Please note that collection day schedules for other Solid Waste services such as garbage, yard waste trimmings and recycling collection WILL NOT change.*
To look up your new heavy trash schedule, please click here or call 311.
The spookiest night of the year is around the corner. On October 31, many ghosties, ghoulies, super heroes, monsters, and other creatures will be traveling our neighborhoods seeking goodies and treats. To keep your trick-or-treater safe and still have a fun time, the Centers for Disease Control recommends the follow Halloween and Harvest Day advice: SAFE HALLOWEEN
- S – Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
- A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
- E -Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
- H – Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.
- A – Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
- L – Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
- L – Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
- O – Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- E – Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
- E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.
- N – Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
For more Halloween and Harvest Day tips and advice, please visit the CDC’s website.
Gulfton Super Neighborhood Meeting – October 29
Neighborhood stakeholders have been invited to attend a meeting to discuss the re-vitalization of the Gulfton Super Neighborhood on October 29, 2012, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Burnett Bayland Community Center, 6000 Chimney Rock Road, Houston, TX 77081.
Council Member Laster is very interested in revitalizing the Gulfton Super Neighborhood. He is seeking input from community stakeholders about this project.
As you probably know, the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council serves as a forum where residents and stakeholders can discuss issues, establish priority projects for the area and develop a Super Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP). SNAPs serve as the Super Neighborhood’s official request for service from the City.
Your District J office looks forward to meeting with the Gulfton Community. If you are a Gulfton area resident, business, school, or interested group and are interested in attending, please RSVP to this event to firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-393-3015.
District J Spotlight – ECHOS
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, ECHOS, is a non-profit organization in District J that provides access to healthcare and social services to under-served individuals and families in the Greater Houston Area.
ECHOS serves a very diverse client base. Last year, ECHOS had over 11,000 client visits from more than 79 countries of origin, who lived in 100 different zip codes across greater Houston. ECHOS assists clients in completing and submitting applications for medical and social services for federal, state and county programs including:
- Children’s Medicaid/CHIP programs
- Medicaid/CHIP Prenatal programs
- Harris County Hospital District Financial Assistance program
- Food Stamps
ECHOS also partners with other service providers to offer ESL classes, food pantry services, domestic violence counseling, dental services, blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, immunizations, visions screenings, mammograms, and referrals to other medical services.
ECHOS serves people of all ages, with no restrictions. Services provided by ECHOS are free of charge.
If you are interested in learning more about ECHOS, its services, or how to volunteer, please visit their website for more information.
Please refer to the Community Events Calendar on our website for time, location and other event details.
New events are added every week. Be sure to check in often!
- Alief Christmas Toy Drive (through 12/4)
- Alief Super Neighborhood Council Meeting
- Early Voting (through 11/2)
- Gulfton PIP Meeting
- Sharpstown Rotary Club
- State of Tamaulipas offers “1era Feria Tamaulipeca del Documento” (through 10/24)
- Eid Bazaar
ITC Monthly Luncheon- “Houston’s Economic Expansion: Is the Air Coming Out of the Balloon?”
Mobile Eye Clinic at India House Houston
SBOE District 6 Candidate Forum
Sharpstown Civic Association Meeting
2012 Trunk or Treat Fall Festival
- Dia de los Muertos Festival
- Wings Over Houston (through 10/28)
- Gulfton Super Neighborhood Meeting
- Sharpstown Rotary Club
- Shenandoah Civic Association
- Happy Halloween!
- Octoberfest at Baker-Ripley
International Quilt Festival Houston 2012 (through 11/4)
- Comité Cívico Multicultural de Houston Kite Design Contest
- Daylight Saving Time Ends