FEBRUARY - CHARTING BUFFALO
More than 500 Harris County residents turned out on February 8th for the first Charting Buffalo public meeting held by Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD).
Most of those who were present had already been introduced to the options for detention basins in Terry Hershey Park found in the October Charting Buffalo Draft. In addition, most of the Harris County residents present had also learned about the Clodine Regional Detention Basin option and other options providing for detention away from the densely forested areas of Terry Hershey Park. Most of the Houstonians present had also already learned about the threat of uncontrolled waterways such as the Clodine Ditch. The vast majority of the Houstonians coming to the meeting were very well aware of the City of Houston's Capital Improvement Plan project M-261 (the Buffalo Bayou Detention Basin) and the fact it was fully funded and ready to go. For these reason, Harris County residents came out in large numbers to make their presence known and to strongly make the statement "Save Our Forest."
HCFCD chose to withhold the Charting Buffalo Draft from public viewing until after the first public meeting which was to be held in Reach One (where the greatest number of detention basin options are proposed). However, in the interest of having an informed citizenry, BFSNC chose to make the October Charting Buffalo maps available to residents and began to provide substantial information on its Buffalo Bayou Detention page beginning in October of last year. Save Our Forest organizers Landrum Wise, George Crosby, Michael Huffmaster and Arnie Azios, the Greater Houston Off Road Biking Association and determined residents including Becky Barnes, Jane Miller and Howard Dunbar worked non-stop to make Harris County residents aware of the impending meeting and the contents of Charting Buffalo. There were no so-called "misconceptions" - people knew why they were at the meeting and what they did and did not want done.
By the time the first public meeting rolled around, over 2,000 people had already signed the petition calling for the protection of the forests in Terry Hershey Park and hundreds of Houstonians had already drafted their public input calling for the development of the Clodine Regional Detention Basin.
So many Harris County residents turned out for the meeting a second meeting had to be scheduled to immediately follow the first. While hundreds of residents took part in the first presentation, hundreds more waited outside for their turn.
The public review of Charting Buffalo was suspended just days following the massive turnout on February 8th. On-line access to the Draft provided by HCFCD was halted. The HCFCD website contained the following message:
"As of Feb. 10, 2012:
In light of compelling issues regarding the presentation of certain concepts in the Charting Buffalo draft report, the Harris County Flood Control District is in the process of modifying the report. The District is suspending the report’s distribution, review period and all scheduled community meetings until further notice.
If you have not already signed up to receive study updates, please register here."
However, Jennifer Dyke, the project leader for Charting Buffalo, stated all public input collected during the suspension would still be kept for the final public record. The Draft is expected to be re-released before the end of June and new public meetings are expected. Whether or not the next meeting or any meeting will occur again in Reach 1 is presently a matter of speculation for those of us excluded from the steering committee.
HCFCD provided copies of Charting Buffalo on flash drives. Consequently, a low resolution copy has been made available through the link below for your review. If you have not had the opportunity to read the entire Draft, please take the time to do so before it is re-released.
CHARTING BUFFALO - FEBRUARY 8TH DRAFT
HCFCD provided a template for public input at the February 8th meeting. We suggest that when the time comes again for public input you complete both the HCFCD form and provide your own letter. Brandt Mannchen's letter (linked in the February portion of "On the Bayou") illustrates the process you will need to go through to thoroughly deal with each Reach, map by map, and the Draft, page by page. Below is a bare bones sample for a letter to include in the public record.
SAMPLE LETTER FOR CHARTING BUFFALO PUBLIC INPUT
When completing your input, please keep the following comments in mind to help obtain what is truly necessary for Reach 1 and the area of Reach 2 impacting our super neighborhood and downstream Buffalo Bayou:
- The Clodine Waterhole Regional Detention Basin (referred to as the Clodine Ditch Basin by the County) must be the primary focus of HCFCD in Reach 1 and the relevant government agencies and departments must step forward to make it happen.
- The 12505 Memorial Basin must be a priority for capturing the runoff from TIRZ 17 before it reaches Buffalo Bayou north of Briargrove Park and Rivercrest.
- The Turkey Creek Basin must be a priority for capturing water from this uncontrolled waterway and I-10 before it ever reaches Buffalo Bayou just east of Eldridge.
- Any basins in the area between Hwy 6 and Beltway 8 needed AFTER the Clodine Waterhole Regional Detention Basin is constructed, must be placed in a site where there is the LEAST ADVERSE IMPACT. Forested areas should be the very last on the list. Existing asphalt trails can be rebuilt, but once the forest is gone, it is gone. Do not touch the forested areas on the southern or northern banks of Buffalo Bayou between Hwy 6 and Beltway 8.
- SAY NO TO the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering DEMANDS TO PLACE A DETENTION BASIN ON THE SOUTHERN BANKS OF BUFFALO BAYOU BETWEEN HWY 6 AND BELTWAY 8. Not now. Not in the future. Not as part of a partnership with HCFCD in Charting Buffalo. Not as an independent project. Say no to the City of Houston funding a Charting Buffalo detention basin on the southern banks of Buffalo Bayou.
- SAY YES to the City of Houston using Capital Improvement Plan funding to put toward the purchase of the Clodine Waterhole Regional Detention Basin, 12505 Memorial Basin or construction of the Turkey Creek Basin.
- The public input period should remain open for Charting Buffalo until at least 30 days after the engineering data used to generate the study report is made readily available to the public on-line.
If everyone includes these key points in their written statements for public input to the Charting Buffalo study, we have a very good chance of leading Charting Buffalo in the best direction for the interests of the overall community.
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