The Brays Oaks Management District (BOMD) is very familiar with new Executive Director Richard Rodriquez. Rodriquez served as the District’s Director of Services for more than five years and said he felt the step up into the role of Executive Director was a natural transition.
Since he donned the new title on Jan. 1, 2016, a lot of what he had already been doing for the District has not changed, but only amped up, Rodriguez said.
“It involves a lot more working with the City of Houston administration and other government agencies and organizations to ensure we’re advocating for our district,” he added.
“I think we’ve hit a moment where the engine is well greased and moving forward in an expeditious manner,” Rodriguez said. “The next logical step is to bring focus on improving the visibility of this district.”
That goal will be accomplished with additional signage, wayfinding, branding the area with cultural arts activities, and implementing some projects that the District has been planning for a number of years, he added.
“This is a year of doing, rather than planning,” Rodriguez said.
One of the biggest factors in implementing the District’s plans is funding, he acknowledged.
“We are moving forward cautiously to ensure that we’re leveraging our dollars effectively and to get the most bang for our buck,” he said. Partnerships play an important part in that strategy.
In the first quarter of 2016, the District has already solidified its partnership with the Houston Parks Board and city parks department to implement some trail installations, he said. Other projects underway include the development of a master plan for the Westbury Community Garden (WCG), pedestrian access to the Willow Waterhole Park, and funding for some enhanced lighting for the Fondren Reconstruction Project, Rodriguez said.
When access drives to the garden had been deteriorated by recent storms and flooding, the District was quick to answer WCG’s call for aid by funding new crushed concrete driveways. Rodriguez said the District has also called upon the engineering firm, Asakura Robinson, to help create a new master plan for the garden. The master plan is funded in part by WCG, BOMD, and District K Councilman Larry Green’s district service fund.
In addition to branding and infrastructure concerns, the District is involved in several initiatives that support education and students within the community, such as after school programs and transportation services, field trips, and two $1,500 scholarships for graduating seniors at Westbury High School.
“One of the things that’s unique about the Brays Oak Management District is that part of our service and assessment plan includes education as a category,” Rodriguez said. “To my knowledge, we’re the only district in the city that focuses on that category.”
BOMD is now providing after-school bus service for every public school within its boundaries.
In April, the District secured tickets and provided transportation to the Museum of Natural Science for 60 economically challenged students who had never had a museum experience before. Another trip in February involved exposing 80 students to the magic of the Texas Renaissance Festival.
Other activities and events that the District helps sponsor include the 4th annual Music in the Park celebration at Willow Waterhole in April. This event featured 16 professional bands, eight school bands, plus craft vendors and food trucks.
“All of these activities in the park are to prime the community for the eventual realization of the Levitt Pavilion,” Rodriguez said. The Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston are finalizing their interlocal agreements between the county, the city, the Parks Department, and the Levitt Foundation in Los Angeles, he added. Once these agreements are finalized and approved by City Council, the capital fundraising campaign to build the Pavilion will commence.
When completed, the Levitt Pavilion is expected to offer 50 free music concerts a year as well as providing a state-of-the-art complex for the use of schools and community groups, Rodriguez added.
Additionally, in conjunction with the proposed Fondren Reconstruction Project, the Management District is committed to serving as an advocate to ensure that local residents and business owners have their voices heard with regard to concerns and suggestions regarding lighting, medians, and driveways, he said.
“There’s a lot of new construction in the District, a lot of new development. New investments are coming in,” Rodriguez said. “Things are trending well.”
Since the inception of the Brays Oaks Management District 11 years ago, the number of crimes committed has diminished by 22 percent, said Starla Turnbo of the District’s Public Safety Committee.
“Our vision is to grow the committee, reduce crime, and promote public safety,” she added.
Initiatives launched by the committee can be credited with helping achieve results, and the results are measurable, as the committee receives regular reports from local law enforcement to compare statistics from month to month and year to year. Capt. Bob Robertson of the Houston Police Department’s South Gessner Division is now one of the committee members, Turnbo said, and he provides the monthly statistics at committee meetings.
One program that has been implemented successfully is the Rental Credit Reporting (RCR) program, now in use at 97 percent of the apartment properties in the District. Turnbo said screening of potential renters covers not only their credit and rental history, but also checks for criminal history, including sex offenses.
The RCR reporting has had the added benefit of ensuring more stability and less mobility among renters so the turnover rate has lowered, she said. Brays Oaks Management District Executive Director Richard Rodriguez said the Houston Independent School District has noted this obvious and positive change regarding its students who live in the area.
Another program that has achieved some results is the District’s participation with the Harris County Attorney’s office to help close down after-hours clubs and game rooms operating illegally. The program has worked well in tandem with the District’s employment of mobile surveillance cameras.
“It moves people from that location and has helped with hot spot abatement,” Turnbo said. “People don’t want to be on camera.”
For example, the cameras have helped focus on a car wash located across from a school that has been a problem and a site of suspected drug activity for the last 20 years, she added.
The District also offers a number of free programs for businesses and residents that help with overall public safety goals, she said. The graffiti abatement program assures that tagging and marking on public or private property will be removed within 24 hours of being reported to the District via a form on its web site. Community members may also report illegal dumping, blighted areas that need attention or trash pickup, or lights that have gone out and need to be replaced, she added.
Another program that has proved helpful is a free after-school bus service that the District started and supports, which currently serves Welch and Fondren Middle Schools and Westbury High School. Although the bus service was designed to transport apartment-dwelling students, others who live within walking distance of the apartments may also ride, Turnbo added.
“We’ve been working with the principals of these schools and they love it,” she said.
Turnbo said the committee is actively seeking input from the community on its initiatives.
“We are looking for more partners for the Public Safety Committee, and we’d love to have other community members participate,” she said.
While residents of the Westbury neighborhood already enjoy the sounds of nature and birdsong in the Willow Waterhole Park, many are looking forward to the time when music will fill the nights, as well.
Plans for a Levitt Pavilion to host 50 free music concerts a year have been underway since the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy first contacted the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation in 2012. In 2013, it was announced that Houston would be the site of the eighth in a series of Levitt Pavilions that have sprung from underutilized spaces across the country.
While negotiations and paperwork have delayed fundraising and construction, Howard Sacks, President of the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston, remains optimistic that the ball is rolling now.
“We aren’t really able to do full fundraising until we have signed multi-party agreements,” he added. “These are in the process of going back and forth and being revised. We think that we have more of that behind us rather than in front of us and that’s encouraging.”
The construction fundraising goal is $7.5 million, Sacks said, but that phase cannot begin until the agreement is completed.
“When we have a document that the parties agree to, then it has to be approved by City Council, and I’m optimistic that can happen by fall,” he said.
“What’s also cool is that all parties seem to be intent upon the same goal, which is making Levitt Pavilion happen at the Willow Waterhole,” Sacks said.
“It’s taken literally four years––four years since July––that we learned of the opportunity,” Sacks said. “The delays really stopped mattering. It’s almost as if the people who stay the course are the ones with the potential to be rewarded. And there aren’t any shortcuts.”
While fundraising is in a holding pattern, there are already some encouraging signs to help the community envision the music venue to come, he pointed out.
“What’s extraordinary is that the Harris County Flood Control District––in their earth-moving capacity––has prepared, visually, a site for the Levitt Pavilion,” Sacks said.
“If you take a look west of South Post Oak between Willow and Gasmer, you will see quite a sight that’s already pretty indicative of what the Pavilion is going to look like––the tiered seating and the saddle that’s the midpoint of the seating,” he said. “It’s fairly easy to imagine, along the flat bank, the seating facing west, the Pavilion facing east, and the water behind it.”
Each Levitt Pavilion features open-lawn seating with no benches, high-caliber entertainment from all music genres, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. The Houston venue is expected to accommodate 5,000 concert attendees.
The first Pavilion was launched by philanthropists Mortimer and Mimi Levitt in Westport, Conn. in 1973, followed by additional pavilions in locations such as the formerly crime-ridden MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Calif; the brownfields of an old steel mill in Bethlehem, Pa.; and the Memphis, Tenn. park where Elvis Presley once performed; as well as in Pasadena, Calif. and Arlington, Texas. A seventh pavilion in Denver, Colo.’s Ruby Hill Park is expected to be completed by 2017.
Since opening in 2006, the Willow Waterhole Park has hosted a jazz festival and outdoor moving screenings for the Westbury community. The 280-acre park, which also serves as part of a $75 million flood control project with stormwater detention basins, is now a popular destination for picnics, birdwatching, and hiking trails.
ATBC & TTACC Private Business Networking Dinner Series
As part of the holy month of Ramadan, the American Turkic Business Council & Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce hosted three private business networking dinners for the friends and members of the council. As this is a very special month awaited by many with great excitement, a very important tradition is to host friends and family to break fast together. To be a part of this tradition, ATBC & TTACC hosted these dinners with a business twist so that attendees can both network and enjoy the company of each other in a more social setting. The dinners that took place at Nazif’s Turkish Grille provided a great setting with delicious Turkish food enjoyed by all the guests.
ATBC & TTACC 2016 Business Seminar:
Searching for the Right Business to Invest in the US
The American Turkic Business Council & Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, hosted two business seminar events titled “Searching for the Right Business to invest in the U.S.” in both Houston and Dallas.
The Dallas event that took place on May 22nd, 2016, proudly hosted three keynote speakers with various areas of expertise so that attendees can compile the most useful information based on their situations. Our speakers were Ms. Rochelle O’Brien, a Business broker focusing on purchasing businesses, preparing SBA loan packages, and developing marketing plans, Ms. Anne Bar, a business broker providing opportunities in existing and new franchises, and finally Ms. Ann Badmus, an immigration attorney that provided employment and business related immigration matters and investor visas.
The ATBC & TTACC HQ office in Houston hosted the second leg of the seminar on June 16th, 2016 at the Turquoise Center. As with the Dallas seminar, the event in Houston targeted to provide information for new comers in regards to the right way to find and invest in businesses in the US as well as handling legal issues. The keynote speakers of the seminar included Ms. Wilka Toppins, an immigration lawyer, and Ms. Marcia Bowron, a business broker.
Time/Location/Event Topics Coming Soon!
Riaz Siddiqi of Denham Capital
Event Date: August 17th
Mr. Riaz Siddiqi is the Founder and Managing Partner at Denham Capital. With more than 32 years of experience in the energy and asset management fields, Mr. Siddiqi plays an active role in not only the business arena but is also involved in several public service causes. Currently, Mr. Siddiqi is a member of the Investment Committee and Valuation Committee at Denham Capital, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of Denham investee companies Gradient Resources and Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd.
Javaid Anwar of Midland energy
Event Date: September 20th
Often referred to as a man with vision, Mr. Javaid Anwar formed Midland Energy Inc., in 1984 and Petroplex Energy Inc, the following year after leaving his job at Cabot Petroleum. After putting himself through college at the University of Wyoming, Mr. Anwar had first hand experience with the deep recession of the oil business. With his goals and mindset, even when during tough times, he never gave up on his dream or his companies. Mr. Anwar, is not only passionate about running a successful business, but is also referred to as being a very generous person who donates to causes and organizations he believes will benefit the society.
U.S. Representative Pete Olson
Event Date: October TBD
U.S. Representative Peter (“Pete”) Olson currently serves the Texas 22nd congressional district since 2009. Upon completing his undergraduate studies at Rice University, Representative Olson continued his education by enrolling in the University of Texas at Austin law school. After his completion of law school, he joined the United States Navy. Representative Olson is an active member on the committee of Energy and Commerce, which is one of the oldest standing committees of the U.S. House of Representatives.
It’s Finally Here!
American Turkic Business Journal
ATBC & TTACC is proud to announce the publication of the fourth issue of the American Turkic Business Journal.
With it’s Oklahoman theme, the fourth issue houses a wide range of articles that will certainly peak your interest. You can find articles written by Oklahoma Mayor Mick Cormett, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar, and many others.
You can access all four editions of the journal from our website at americanturkic.org
Editorial: Deliver flood money: Congress should speed up funding for Houston’s critical flood control projects
- “It used to be that Representatives could use an earmark to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to put politically important projects at the top of the list. Now discretion is largely left up to executive agencies.
- “That’s why U.S. Rep. Al Green, a Democrat, proposed a bill that will authorize $311 million in supplemental disaster funds to be spent exclusively for flood control projects in the Houston area. That proposal, House Bill 5025, will set a 10-year deadline for spending these funds and already has 72 co-sponsors, including every Republican representative in the Houston delegation.”
- “It hasn’t been tried since I’ve been in Congress that a group of members would come together on such a good, bipartisan basis,” Rep. Gene Green, a Democratic co-sponsor, told the editorial board.”
- “The best thing that Houstonians can do to push the bill along is tell their friends and relatives across the country to encourage their own representatives to support the Tax Day Floods Supplemental Funding Act. Consider those phone calls and emails to be the thoughts and prayers that flood survivors really need.”
- “Flood control is the sort of project where Congress is either going to pay now or pay later. Whether through FEMA spending, flood recovery or lost federal investments – floods cost Texas more than $3 billion last year, largely from damaged infrastructure – taxpayers will eventually bear a burden from these natural disasters. Paying for prevention up front will save us in the long run.”
- “Until then, Al Green and Gene Green and their colleagues are working to help Houston at least get the money we need to prepare our city for the next big storm.”
The City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department has started the final collection pass for the Tax Day Storm 2016. The last day for collection will be Saturday, June 11, 2106 for ALL residents.
Items should be segregated into six (6) piles away from fire hydrants, mailboxes, power lines and other objects that will hamper safe pickup.
Debris separation piles:
- Normal Household Trash – Normal household trash and bagged debris of any kind will not be picked up with debris as part of this program. You should continue to follow your normal garbage schedule.
- Vegetative Debris – leaves (do not put in bags), logs, plants, tree branches.
- Construction & Demolition Debris – building materials, carpet, drywall, furniture, lumber, mattresses and plumbing.
- Appliances & White Goods – air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and water heaters.
- Electronics – computers, radios, stereos, televisions, other devices with a cord.
- Household Hazardous Waste – cleaning supplies, batteries, lawn chemical, oils, oil-based paints, stains and pesticides
For more information about the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department and its services, residents may check online at www.houstonsolidwaste.org, like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste, follow us on twitter @houstontrash or call 3-1-1, the City of Houston’s Customer Service Helpline.
The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste service to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.
Questions or concerns contact:
Irma Reyes, Public Information Officer
(832) 393-0475 office
The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is reminding Houstonians that Hurricane Season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th. Houstonians should take steps to begin the process of preparing.
Storms like Alison, Ike and Carla have all impacted Houston at various times throughout the season, so it’s important to prepare now.
Steps to Prepare
OEM reminds Houstonians of the four emergency preparedness steps:
Make an Emergency Plan
Every Houston family should have an emergency plan that details where they will go in the event of an emergency. Those Houston families who live in a hurricane evacuation zone should know where they will go ahead of time and have an out-of-town contact to check-in with to make sure the family is able to communicate. A sample plan is available from Ready.gov.
Only those residents who either live in an evacuation zone, or who use a medical device which requires electricity to sustain their life should evacuate ahead of a storm. To find local evacuation zones, visit houstontx.gov/hurricanes and click on “Hurricane Evacuation”. Houston residents who might need additional help in evacuating during a disaster can visit the OEM website to learn more about the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR), which is used by local agencies to identify those with disabilities and other needs, in an effort to provide better assistance to them ahead of, and after an emergency.
Residents should also know their level of risk ahead of a storm. The Houston Storm Risk Calculator (houstonstormrisk.org) displays a map of hurricane risks from storm surge, flooding, wind and power outage down to the neighborhood level.
Have an Emergency Supply Kit
Houston residents should have what they need to be on their own for 5-7 days following a storm. This includes food, water, medications and individual needs such as medical devices or pet supplies. Additionally, its important to have tools, sturdy shoes and clothes to help in the immediate repair of your home following a storm.
Know where to go to get updated information, this includes local television and radio, as well as official websites such as:
- City of Houston Emergency Information Center: houstontx.gov/emergency
- National Hurricane Center: hurricanes.gov
- National Weather Service Houston-Galveston: weather.gov/houston
- Official Social Media Channels:
- City of Houston Emergency Information: Twitter: @AlertHouston Facebook: facebook.com/alerthouston
- City of Houston Office of Emergency Management: Twitter: @houstonoem Facebook: facebook.com/houstonoem Instagram: @houstonoem
- National Hurricane Center: Twitter: @NHC_Atlantic
- National Weather Service Houston/Galveston Forecast Office: Twitter: @NWSHouston Facebook: facebook.com/nwshouston
Know your Neighbors
During disasters, having a community around you that can help is essential to making it through. Meet your neighbors, and build a plan that includes sharing resources, such as generators, chainsaws and tools to prepare for, and respond to a hurricane.
For more information helping your neighborhood get ready for hurricane season, visit neighborhood.readyhoustontx.gov
Need More Information?
The City’s Disaster Preparedness Guide, which is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic and Urdu to Houston residents and businesses free by calling 311 or visiting houstonoem.org has a detailed list of what should be in your emergency kit, as well as the steps you should take to prepare your family ahead of a hurricane.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Small Business Development Center
2302 Fannin, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77002
8:30-9:00 Registration & Networking
9:00-9:10 Welcome Remarks
9:10-9:25 Marketing Your Products and Services Globally
9:30-9:45 SBA Export Loan Programs
10:05-10:20 How You Can Get Your Loan Package or Get Assistance with
Your Export Loan
10:25-10:40 Getting Paid & Managing Risk
10:45-11:00 Moving Your Export Product from Port to its Destination
11:05-11:20 Is Your Product Ready for Export? Hear the process
11:25-11:40 Q&A and Networking
12:30 Workshop Adjourns
U.S. Small Business Administration will provide reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact Sonia Maldonado (713) 773-6554. All SBA programs and services are provided on a nondiscriminatory basis.
What does SBA offer to small business owners? SBA offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. The programs are varied and the qualifications for each are specific. SBA can help guarantee a loan with a lender, third party lender, guarantee a bond, or help find venture capital.
Understanding how SBA works is the first step towards receiving assistance.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
9:30 am to 12 noon
U.S. Small Business Adminstration
IRS – Alliance Tower
8701 S. Gessner
12th Floor Conference Room #1206
Houston, TX 77074
Contact: Sonia Maldonado, Lender Relations Specialist, 713-773-6554
Registration is required. Limited seating.