Bellaire Council Discussing Dynamo Stadium In Executive Session
Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel has called an executive session meeting on Monday night to discuss a developer’s preliminary plans to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium for the Houston Dynamo right on the outskirts of Bellaire. The Feb. 1 meeting will take place right after the public Bellaire City Council meeting, but the executive session will not be open to the public.
The stadium plans are in such an early phase that the idea could just as easily fail as succeed. Read more about the plans here.
Siegel said earlier this week she is opposed to the idea because she fears a stadium would bring too much traffic, potentially cause more dangerous car accidents, and degrade the quality of life for Bellaire and Houston residents who live near the proposed site at South Rice Avenue and Westpark Drive.
“No matter how I look at it, in looking at that property, I just think it will hurt Bellaire and I don’t think it will be good for fans because I think it will be difficult for them to get to that site,” Siegel told InstantNewsWestU on Tuesday.
Siegel sent the following letter on Monday to Brad Freels, chairman and CEO of Midway Companies, the real estate developing firm that is proposing the stadium idea. Download the letter here (PDF).
January 26, 2010
Re: Proposed Dynamo Stadium
I want to reiterate my serious concerns and what I believe will be the concerns of Bellaire and Houston citizens about the proposed site for a new Dynamo stadium that you discussed with me last Friday, January 22, 2010.
Quite frankly, Brad, I have to tell you that I was blindsided by your company’s proposal to use your land at S. Rice and Westpark for a Dynamo stadium. This proposal is completely contrary to what was envisioned for the transit oriented development that included your property and the Bellaire Research and Development District (RDD) when Bellaire, Metro, Thompson and Hanson, and Midway shared the cost of an architect to develop a conceptual plan for a transit oriented development at this location. As I have stated at every joint meeting that your company has attended with Metro and City of Bellaire officials – our primary concern has always been to protect the integrity of the Bellaire residential neighborhood directly south of this site, in addition to protecting the interests of the Bellaire property owners in the RDD.
In reviewing your plans further over the weekend and driving by the site Monday during the day and rush hour traffic in the evening. I cannot see any benefit to locating a soccer stadium (that would also be used as an outdoor entertainment facility) at your site. I believe strongly that the proposed stadium site on your property has serious limitations and will have an extremely negative impact to the residential Bellaire and Houston neighborhoods that adjoin your property and the RDD. As we discussed, the S. Rice and Westpark intersection already experiences significant delays due to traffic backups. (This traffic problem has been discussed several times in prior meetings regarding the placement of a Metro Rail transit station here.) Additionally, traffic backs from Fournace on the 610 Feeder road up to Westpark daily during evening rush hour. A stadium at this site would just increase exponentially what is already a significant traffic problem!
Additionally, there is an existing traffic problem at the 610 and 59 interchange that has been a tremendous drain on emergency personnel responding to accidents that would be compounded further if the stadium was built on your site. Bellaire and Houston emergency personnel (but primarily Bellaire) already respond s several times a day to accidents at this location. To add stadium traffic to what is already a horrible problem would be a financial and manpower resource burden that Bellaire cannot accommodate.
I understand that you think that connecting this stadium to the proposed Metro transit station will suffice in addressing traffic in this area. However, I disagree with you because first, it will be many years before there is a fully operational rail system in the Houston area. Secondly, given projected population growth – highway usage will only increase, not decrease – further compounding what is already an unbearable problem on 59 and 610 Loop at this interchange.
Other points that we discussed and I believe will be of great concern to the Bellaire and Houston residents that live close to the proposed site is the noise and other pollution that will negatively impact their quality of life. Additionally, not only is there the potential for cut-through traffic, but I can envision overflow parking on residential neighborhood streets when fans can not get into the stadium parking lot quickly. Brad, the residential neighborhood directly south of your property and the RDD was damaged when 610 Loop cut their neighborhood in half over 40 years ago. A stadium would be the final blow to what has been a neighborhood trying to reclaim its quality of life for decades.
Lastly, after reviewing your plans for a couple of days, I personally do not see how a stadium at this location best serves the greater Houston area and fans. Fans on the north and east side of Houston will have difficulty in getting to this site. Additionally, this site does not have the infrastructure in place to serve it that already exists at other athletic facilities downtown or at Reliant Park . Also, given the growth of soccer in the United States, I have a hard time believing that the Dynamo will not outgrow a 20,000 seat stadium fairly quickly.
In conclusion, although I am only one vote on Bellaire City Council, I believe that my fellow Council members and the residents of Bellaire and Houston will agree with me, when I state that this is not a good site for a soccer stadium, nor does it provide easy access for the benefit of all soccer fans in the greater Houston area. I ask that you reconsider your proposal and respond to me quickly, as I have scheduled an executive session to discuss this matter with the Bellaire City Council.
Mayor of the City of Bellaire