As we begin the new year, I want to take a moment to express how honored I am to continue serving the community where I was born and raised.
We have many things to look forward to this year: the completion of the Metro Harrisburg overpass and opening of the entire span of the East End “Green Line” from downtown to the Magnolia Transit Center, and we will break ground on a major restoration of Gus Wortham Park Golf Course at the end of the month.
We will officially dedicate the newly reconstructed Broadway Boulevard (including new landscaping and decorative features) in January, and the second phase of that project, which will rebuild Broadway from I-45 north to Galveston Rd, is expected to kick off at the end of the year.
Working with community leaders and the Houston Parks Board, we’ll continue building our growing network of trails along Greens, Buffalo and Sims bayous. I’m also looking forward to working with the Houston Botanic Garden Board on their ongoing effort to raise $20 million to create a world-class Botanic Garden in District I for all Houstonians to enjoy.
These are just a few of the major projects we’ll be working on this year. I know 2017 will be a great year for our community!
Houston Council Member
Recycle your Christmas Tree
Residents can recycle their Christmas trees by dropping them off at one of 24 free, drop-off recycling sites located throughout Houston. The program runs through January 15, 2017.
In addition to the drop-off locations, residents with City of Houston collection services may place their tree curbside on their scheduled Tree Waste day to be recycled. The trees must have all decorations, ornaments, tinsel, lights and stands removed. Flocked trees cannot be recycled.
To find a drop off center closest to you, visit the City of Houston Christmas Tree Recycling website, or call 3-1-1.
Metro Harrisburg Overpass Bridge Opening Jan. 22
New HPD and HFD Chiefs Sworn In
The City of Houston officially swore in Art Acevedo as Chief of Police, and Sam Peña as Fire Chief. The two appointments were confirmed by Houston City Council in November, and were sworn in by Mayor Sylvester Turner over the holidays.
“I welcome Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Sam Peña to the City of Houston and look forward to working with them” said Council Member Gallegos. “I applaud Mayor Turner for not only nominating individuals with impressive credentials, but for also selecting public servants who are representative of our city’s diverse community. This is a great step toward developing and encouraging more diversity in our police and fire departments.”
Chief Peña comes to Houston from El Paso, where he joined the Fire Department in 1995 after service in the US Air Force. He quickly rose through the ranks and served as training chief in charge of the fire academy, a media spokesman and a paramedic, and had the title of advanced medical coordinator. His experience and talent will be a great asset to Houston.
Chief Acevedo previously served as Chief of Police in Austin for 10 years. In addition to his impressive credentials, he is representative of the diverse community the Houston Police Department serves. As the child of Cuban immigrants, he is in a unique position to understand, empathize, protect and serve Houston’s diverse population.
More Mini Murals Coming to District I
The District I Office has been working with UP Art Studio and several local artists on a public art initiative, which turns unsightly traffic control boxes into unique art pieces for the community to enjoy.
Over the past few months, 7 boxes have been painted with beautiful murals and 6 more are scheduled to be completed in the coming months. The three newest murals, finished in the month of December, include a colorful mosaic at the corner of Lawndale and Evergreen, another at Canal and Macario Garcia Dr. pays tribute to WWII Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sergeant Macario Garcia, and one at Harrisburg and Navigation recognizes the shipping and rail industries that established the East End as a transport hub:
The District I murals are sponsored using a small portion of District I Service Funds. The East End Management District and the Hobby Area Management District have also painted several mini murals within their respective boundaries as a way to bring more art to our community.
Emancipet Opens New Clinic in the East End
Emancipet Houston has opened it’s new low-cost veterinary clinic at 910 S. Wayside Dr. in the East End!
Councilman Robert Gallegos advocated to bring Emancipet to Houston in 2015 to help support the City’s efforts to reduce and prevent animal overpopulation in our community. Since opening in 2015, Emancipet has served 9,000 clients, including providing more than 4,000 spay/neuter surgeries and 5,000 visits for vaccinations, microchipping, flea/heartworm medication, and other healthy pet services, which they provided out of their former home, a 48-foot customized trailer located at Neighborhood Centers-Ripley House.
With the move, Emancipet East End is also expanding its service days and hours and will now be open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The check-in for surgery appointments begins at 8 a.m. and the clinic is open for healthy pet services from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.emancipet.org/houston, or call 713-321-2713.
HFD Training Facility Improvements Underway
Houston City Council approved funding to build a stand-alone permanent restroom building for the Fire Department’s Val Jahnke training academy in southeast Houston. The project is being funded through $140,000 from the District I Service Fund, and an additional $110,000 coming from a contract approved by City Council.
The restroom building will be in close proximity to the simulated training buildings on the academy campus. At this time, the cadets (men and women) at the training academy are sharing one temporary restroom building. This restroom is also used for removing the safety gear and cleaning up after fire drills that sometimes include exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The new stand-alone restroom will provide the HFD academy with essential facilities for the training operations for years to come. Construction is expected to begin at the end of the month and completed in April.
610 & Gulf Freeway Construction
TxDOT has begun construction on 2 direct-connectors at I-45 and the 610 South Loop Interchange. This project will improve connectivity for motorists while reducing congestion and improving safety along this heavily traveled corridor. The project limits for I-610 South Loop just west of Broad St. to I-45 Gulf Freeway beyond Griggs Rd. Interchange include:
- Construction of the I-610 eastbound to I-45 northbound direct connector from Telephone Rd. to Griggs Rd. The addition of the interchange facility will eliminate the current street level traffic route.
- Construction of the I-45 southbound to I-610 westbound direct connector from Woodridge Dr. to Telephone Rd. The addition of the interchange facility will eliminate the current street level traffic route.
- Reconstruction of SH-35 bridges and alignment over the I-610 frontage roads.
- 1-mile of concrete pavement widening along I-610 westbound auxiliary lanes from Woodridge Dr. to west of Broad St.
- 0.75-mile of concrete pavement widening along I-45 southbound auxiliary lanes north of Woodridge Dr.
- Ramp improvement at SH-225 southbound at I-45 southbound.
- Lighting, CTMS improvements, and southbound I-45 frontage road improvements along Gulfgate Mall.
This project is expected to last approximately 3.5 years. For more information on closures and construction associated with this project, please visit the Houston Transtar website.
News at a Glance from City Hall
- City Council approved a historic designation and protected landmark status for the Scholibo building in downtown. Constructed in 1880, the building at 912 Prairie is a two-story Italianate structure indicative of the buildings that once lined downtown.
- Houston was selected by international community to host the 2020 World Petroleum Congress, a major conference expected to bring 10,000 top-level international oil executives and pump over $60 million into the local economy.
- City Council appointed several community and business leaders to serve on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Management District.
- City Council created a banner program to promote airport events along major corridors to Bush and Hobby airports. Vertical banners will be installed on a limited number of streetlight lampposts along Airport Blvd.
For a complete list of items considered by City Council each week, visit the online Council Agenda portal.