On the agenda: Purchasing more parks, TV crews for council meetings?

March 13, 2016 By:George Boehme

Local News

A new park – the possible acquisition and development of more parkland is the Monday city council agenda item with the highest price tag: $7-10 million.

It is an never-ending discussion for West U  buying more parkland …and Councilmember Burt Ballanfant is always the driving force.

In 2006, West University Place voters approved a $2 million expenditure for additional parkland. Ballanfant argues the 2005 bond vote granted authorization to the city council to purchase additional land without any $2 million price restriction.

Ballanfant’s reasoning? Burt says that if a prior city council had acted immediately, $2 million would have been plenty. Ballanfant says that prior city councils were “derelict in their duties” by not spending the $2 million already. So in Ballanfant’s eyesight the current city council should not be bound by the $2 million limit.

Two possible future park sites will be presented once by parks director Tim O’Connor. But the first image in O’Connor’s staff presentation will be a retell of the 2015 citizen survey which indicated an ambivalence towards the issue of acquiring more parkland.

O’Connor’s first potential park site is located at the southwest corner of Pittsburg Street and Mercer Street and has an estimated purchase price of $3.86 million. O’Connor’s second possible park site is at the northwest corner of Mercer and Duke – the estimated land cost of the ⅔ acre is $3.85 million.

It is estimated the total developed cost of either possible park site would be between $7-10 million.

Kelly’s Follies

Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Kelly is a proponent of televising city council meetings and along with Brennan Reilly offers an agenda item that would have West University Place dive in the the arena of reality TV, or vanity TV.

For comparison: The City of Bellaire has a dedicated television station for the broadcast of its city council meetings and they average less than five viewers per meeting. West U already videos the meetings for security purposes and any resident can request the video at no cost from the city secretary (I do it for every meeting).

The estimated additional cost for the proposed production quality taping of the city council meetings for the first year would be between $25-75K.

Cop Talk

The agenda item reads “Police Department Activity Matters.” The backstory is that residents are concerned about crime. The police chief will deliver a predictable spiel – a police car patrols the front of each homestead between 4-5 times everyday which exceeds the matrix of any city in Texas.

If you have any questions, please contact City Secretary Thelma Lenz at 713.662.5813

16 Responses to “On the agenda: Purchasing more parks, TV crews for council meetings?”

  1. Steven Segal Says:

    Ballanfant is at it again–trying to $pend millions of our tax dollars for his personal $pecial pet project. $peak up before it is too late.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Steven, the taxpayers voted for a bond to use to buy park land. This IS the will of the people! Unfortunately, leadership is dragging their feet so much, the bond may expire. Don’t get on Burt, he is trying to speak for the taxpayers who voted for this bond in the first place. Don’t think taxpayers will forget the terrible job YOU did when you were in office! You did NOT support taxpayers, and voted for laws AGAINST citizens! At least Burt is making an effort, which is more than I can say for you.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Lately, Burt has spoken up for the taxpayers. He said taxpayers voted for the park bond. Burt is trying to do the right thing for a change. Steven, you voted for laws against citizens when you were in office. You are not to be trusted!

      • Ted Ferguson Says:

        Are you replying to yourself now?

        • Anonymous Says:

          No Ted, I could be trusted with tax resources. I am not the one who is fiscally irresponsible. If I were in charge of planning, I would not waste tax money! If I were in charge, I would use the money FOR WUP, not offer our tax resources to other communities. If I were in charge, I would not ignore taxpayers when they come to meetings. If I were in charge, I would not use my elected position for my own benefit. If I were in charge, I would fire ANYONE who could not do their job, and provide service to each and every WUP citizen! You seem more concerned about me than civil rights of WUP taxpayers.

          • Ted Ferguson Says:

            Actually, based on your comments here, I’m more concerned that you’re going to show up in the park at midnight and start making balloon animals for children that aren’t there.

        • Anonymous Says:

          Ted, you are ridiculous. Just because I am willing to speak, you try to discredit me. You are not willing to hear the voice of the people. That’s too bad for you. That’s why government is a mess, taking huge amounts of money to be used for pet projects, like costly recycling. That’s right. They use tax money to buy huge trucks, hire staff to manage recycling, and consider this a feather in their cap. It is a waste of tax money! As crime rises, you are more concerned with making silly comments about a fellow citizen. What are YOU doing to improve living conditions? Do you show up and voice concerns at public meetings? Do you speak up when most of the budget goes for staff that sits in an office drinking coffee paid for by tax dollars, then refuses coffee to seniors? When I hear that police patrols will increase, but see no evidence of this, I fully expect crime to increase. So Ted, bolt your doors, write your silly things on your computer, and accuse your neighbors of “showing up in the park at midnight, making balloon animals”, but don’t be shocked when your home is burglarized and your car is ransacked. You wanted the status quo to remain the same.

    • Anonymous Says:

      There is a set dollar amount on the bond. Stop trying to scare everyone with your “the sky is falling” routine. If you were so concerned about the tax money that’s spent, you should have said something when WUP staff got raises, when the city manager was making a ridiculous salary, when tax resources are used outside WUP, etc. Taxpayers voted FOR park land. Just because you are steps away from a Retirement Home, don’t try to deprive active citizens from what they want. If we had better park spaces, instead of mound of dirt with fences around them, we might have less flooding. This city has extremely poor planning!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    The police chief gets the award for the worst presentation. He put faces of black males with records on the screen. This is highly prejudicial! Are we to believe that only black males are criminals? Citizens need to know what is to be done about rising crime in this area, not a slide show. Leadership (especially Bob Kelly) wants to use tax money to install video. THAT IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TAX MONEY! It was demonstrated that there is no real desire to put tax money into video when only one tape was requested from the city secretary. The transcript is online for citizens to review if they desire. If Brannen had been there, maybe he could have protested this stupid request! Only one citizen thought this to be a good use of tax money so far. Bob Kelly latched onto his request like it was a large group of citizens who made this request. Spending money on expensive camera equipment, personnel, and maintenance is not fiscally responsible for this small city. SHAME ON YOU BOB! Many seniors don’t have access to internet service. Bob, you seem to be competing with Bellaire. Bellaire wins every time. When you do not uphold the constitution, you lose. WUP leadership does not listen to the will of the people, you just want to bully the citizens into submitting to your agenda. Citizens want seniors cared for, we want a decent library without asbestos, we want parks within walking distance, we want a SAFE place to live, we want to have the same rights as our neighbors, we want our tax money spent in a fiscally responsible manner… So far, WUP is batting zero.

    • Ted Ferguson Says:

      “Many seniors don’t have access to internet service.”

      I wish you didn’t have access to it, either. Seriously, go outside and get some fresh air.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Ted, do you not believe in the constitution? Maybe you think citizens should not have free speech or the ability to express their opinions? Hitler thought that too. I see some of the things that led to the Nazi regime here in WUP, senior being bullied, not allowed to go to the Senior Center, Seniors scolded by staff who pick and choose who they are to provide service. Elected officials who turn their backs on taxpayers, and think it is a good thing to exclude WUP senior citizens from activities, while taking tax money. Ted, I have opinions. I am not under your control, so don’t tell me what to do! Do you order your wife around? I am not your wife. I have opinions, as you do. I can’t wait til Donald Trump becomes president! He is to be admired for demonstrating free speech is alive and well. Maybe you are a wimpy Democrat, I don’t know, don’t care.

        • Ted Ferguson Says:

          I believe in The Constitution, but I doubt The Founding Fathers cared about squirrels being kept out of the hen house. Go buy a hula hoop and get some fresh air and sunshine.

          • Anonymous Says:

            You believe in your version of the Constitution. The right to free speech is granted to everyone in current times. Maybe you think some people should not have rights? Maybe you think slavery is OK? Maybe you boss your wife around? What century do you live in? Squirrels in the hen house? Did you grow up as a poor boy in the country? Hula hoop? How old are you? Maybe you should consider checking yourself into a retirement home. Then, you can have an entire room to wander around, and not interfere with my constitutional rights!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Will the police drive by my house on the way to Chicken Kitchen? I rarely see police patrols by my house. I don’t count on the police for anything! Apparently, they are too busy policing senior citizens. The WUP police chief demands an apology from a disabled senior citizen in order for the senior citizen to be able to go in the Senior Center. Really? A high ranking official stated that the WUP police chief is TOO SENSITIVE! Maybe if you asked the guy who shot the kid at the pizza parlor for an apology, we could all just “get along”. Did the senior citizens break any laws, of course not! Residents have a right to be concerned about crime when the WUP police chief is focused on nonsense. Leave the petty disputes alone to get worked out on their own. The petty dispute in question happened a year ago, and the WUP police chief is still waiting for an apology. Does ANYONE know who needs an apology and why the apology is warranted? Hail to the chief for your valiant efforts to rid WUP of petty grievances and keeping tabs on those pesky seniors. Maybe it’s time to focus on the real police issues. Obviously, WUP leadership is leading us astray.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Parkland is needed on the East side of WUP. This leadership ignores the will of the people who repeatedly say they do NOT want park land where the parks director proposes. Citizens have access to West University Elementary school anytime it is not in session. There is playground equipment and green space on school grounds when school is out. The east side, between Bissonnet and University Blvd., does not have park land within walking distance. This is discriminatory to the taxpayers who live in this area! Most of the parkland is on the west side of WUP. The parks director seems to be proud of the new decking covering the open green space at Colonial park that will be rented. Taxpayers demand open green space! It is wrong to cover open green space with decks, then make money off what is put on top of taxpayers minimal open green space. Do you get another award for reducing green space in this manner?

    I have concerns that this leadership will continue in this manner (ignoring the will of the people) until they are voted out of office. One council member is not more responsible than another! The entire group who are NOT transparent must go. Maybe then, Senior Board meetings will be posted on the web site for citizens to attend. Maybe then, the east side will get parks within walking distance. May be then, tax resources will be spent on Seniors who have supported the system for decades. Maybe then, city services will increase, not decrease. Maybe then, we can ship for the BEST budget, not just get the one that cost the most. Maybe then, we will have good fiduciaries, not just those who rubber stamp what is submitted by staff, without any consideration for less expensive alternatives. Maybe then, we will have leaders who consider the “will of the people”, not just their own agenda. Maybe then, …

    Spending up to $75K on taping city council meetings is a total waste of tax money! Transcripts are online. As stated, they currently video meetings for security purposes. This should be enough. Quit wasting tax money! The city manager just got a huge raise, all city staff just got a raise, you just granted Dave Beach maybe $25,000. outside his huge budget for a program he can’t seem to manage without an extra $25,000., etc. Are we competing with Bellaire? Bellaire win every time.

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