Approximately 1300 West U households, about one in four, will receive a short questionnaire in the mail from the Hobby Center at the University of Houston asking residents’ opinion about a proposal for long-range master planning for future city facilities .
The proposal is a general land-use plan to allow for the possible site of some city facilities, to occur over the next half-century as the existing facilities become obsolete. The proposal is a non-binding outline, much like the parks master plan, that can be changed at any time by a majority vote of any future city council.
Part of this plan would be to acquire four residential properties located west of City Hall over the next several decades as the land enters the marketplace for sale. The proposal does NOT include the use of eminent domain, a legal technique that lets a government forcibly take private property.
One common criticism of governments is they do an inadequate job of long-range planning. The result is often hodgepodge and inefficient results. The mayor and city council believe this plan gives future city councils an array of options that include replacement of facilities or converting the land mass to park land.
“Your city council feels strongly that we are creating a plan that will allow future city councils and residents many more options when it comes time to rebuild the city facilities as they reach the end of their useful life, as well as being in the best interests of affected property owners,” said West University Place Mayor Bob Fry. “We believe that history will judge these decisions as sound and forward thinking and we hope that all of you will share our vision of the future. This council respects each and every citizen’s opinion and we look forward to hearing from survey participants.”
This long-term outline has become political target practice for the upcoming West U municipal elections on May 9. A slate of city council candidates (Former Mayor Bob Kelly, Former Mayor Burt Ballanfant, volunteer Mardi Turner and local activist Brennan Reilly) oppose this planning exercise.
“Unfortunately a few self-serving individuals continue to spread inaccurate information in an attempt to shape your opinion,” said Mayor Fry, “All we ask is that you read the informational brochure with an open mind.”