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Posts published in July 2013

Rep. Walle to host property tax workshop

Residents who believe their property tax appraisal is too high; are not sure which property tax filings are needed for their business; or are confused about what exemptions they may qualify for, there will be a Property Tax workshop to answer these and more questions.

Representative Walle will be hosting a Tax workshop in August for those who are interested on filing or protesting private and commercial property taxes. In addition, the guest speaker will be Mr. Bernardo Garcia who has over 25 years of experience and is an expert in property tax matters and issues with estate planning. The workshop is set for Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at the East Aldine District office located at 5333 Aldine Mail Route.

Those interested should please RSVP at 713-694-8620, so that they can have a good count and thus bring appropriate supplemental tax information forms.

Rep. Armando Walle and his staff appreciate East Aldine District for securing a convenient location for the workshop. They also would like to thank Greater Northside Management District for helping secure Mr. Bernardo Garcia as guest speaker.

Grand Parkway breaks ground for North Segment

38 mile road from US290 to US59 ready in 2016

NORTH HOUSTON – As more than 1,000 newcomers move to Texas each day adding more cars to state highways, the Texas Department of Transportation today broke ground on the latest segments of the Houston-area SH 99/Grand Parkway. With ceremonial shovels in hand, state and local leaders along with transportation officials were joined by design-build contractor Zachry- Odebrecht Parkway Builders (ZOPB) to turn dirt at the future SH 99 expansion.

“This latest phase of construction represents a continuation of the forward thinking and planning that will expedite mobility and provide the infrastructure this area will need as Texas welcomes more drivers and business traffic,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. “We are proud of the partnerships that share our vision of addressing congestion and helping motorists move freely and safely on Texas highways.”

Construction on the new 38-mile segment is expected to take two-and-a-half years to complete. Upon completion, motorists will be able to drive SH 99 from US 290 directly to US 59 North. The outer loop system will provide motorists more direct travel options for the movement of goods, people and services to, through and around the region.

The SH 99/Grand Parkway has been in the planning stage since the early 1960s and was made possible through coordinated working relationships with Harris and Montgomery counties. Improvements to these important roadways are critical to the region’s continued mobility and economic vitality.

Additionally, transportation leaders also noted the recent announcement of the sale of the Grand Parkway System Toll Revenue Bonds. The proceeds of the $2.92 billion bond sale will go to finance this project; reimburse the Harris County Toll Road Authority and TxDOT for earlier Grand Parkway expenses; and $300 million of preliminary work for Segments H and I of the Grand Parkway.

For ongoing updates on the SH 99/Grand Parkway project, visit www.grandparkway or call 1-855-99Grand.

Heavy Trash pick-up to resume in ALL of East Aldine District

The East Aldine District has been busy cleaning up, and at the board meeting last Tuesday voted to sign a contract with OFS Solid Waste Services of Channelview, to pick up Heavy Trash in every part of the district once per week for the next year.

The contract will cost the district $13,750 per month, but will fulfil a need that has been present since most of the district was taken over by Harris County Pct. 2 after the last election.

The agreement with OFS includes all of the district, including new areas to the north of Aldine-Bender and west of Hardy Toll Road.

Heavy Trash pick-ups will start every Monday, beginning August 5th. The first area to be cleaned will be the “South” zone, and will take several days to finish. Then on August 12th the next zone, Central, will be picked up, and so on. On August 19 the East Zone will be picked up, and on August 26 the North Zone.

The complete district will be cleaned once per month on a schedule like this, according to Richard Cantu, Director of Services for East Aldine. Residents with questions can contact the district at 713-595-1220. In addition to this scheduled trash collection, any neighborhood can request a temporary dumpster for a one-time clean up, Cantu pointed out. Last Saturday, the Tasfield neighborhood held a combined clean-up and garage sale, for example.

As in the past, there are some rules as to what constitutes “heavy trash.” Included is old furniture, broken wood, trees and shrubs, appliances and related items. Please separate tires. If appliances or AC units are put out, they must have freon lines cut, drained, and tagged by a licensed technician. Not acceptable are paint, oil, pesiticides, anti-freeze, gasoline cans, household garbage, or batteries.

Grand Texas Theme Park to be developed on US59 north

NORTHEAST – Developers are hard at work on two separate projects in the New Caney area, north of Humble on US59. The latest project to be announced is a theme park named Grand Texas. The Developers announced last week that they had purchased a 600 acre tract of land at the corner of US59 and Highway 242.

Principal of the developer group is Monty Galland, and operator of the park will be Chuck Hendrix of Innovative Leisure Partners. Hendrix was previously an executive with Six Flags who managed AstroWorld in the period before it was closed and torn down. He is said to be a well respected and experienced manager in the amusement park business nationally, and adds credence to the proposal and the development team.

Envisioned for the new park is a Texas- themed park with amusement rides, a water park, an equestrian center, retail shopping and parking, amphitheater, paintball arena, and an RV resort.

When completed in 2015, it is expected that it will create 300 to 400 permanent jobs, and attract up to a million tourists and visitors to the parks. Although no construction or land figures were released, industry experts say that it will cost upwards of $120 million for the park, and another $95 million for ancillary features such as hotels, restaurants, retail, and parking. Others in the industry have said that it may take as much as $400 million to build a first class facility equivalent to theme parks in other parts of the country.

This is the second proposal for a theme park and public development in the East Montgomery County area. Last year a development named Earth Quest was announced, to be a major dinosaur-themed science park, with an adjacent amusement park, and research center. This project has received State of Texas Enterprise Fund backing, and also local funding from sales tax revenue bonds.

According to Frank McCrady, president and CEO of the East Montgomery County Improvement District, this project is still on schedule and when built will not be a competitor but a complement to the Grand Texas project. The site for this project is on the east side of US59, only about three miles from the Grand Texas project.

Aldine Education Foundation completes successful first year

The Aldine Education Foundation is celebrating a major milestone in their inaugural year as an education foundation. As of April 11, 2013, the foundation has raised $709,839 to support Aldine Independent School District and awarded scholarships to 35 students, totaling $47,000, and five teacher grants.

The Aldine Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that incorporated only 16 months ago. The foundation provides scholarships and grants for innovative projects and programs not funded or under-funded by the Aldine ISD’s operating budget.

Grant funds directly benefit AISD students and teachers by providing equipment, software and teaching tools to enhance the academic experience and exceed the day-to-day curriculum. The foundation is supported through donations from individuals, businesses and corporations.

“Our success in our first year is due to the incredible community support we have received,” Aldine Education Foundation Vice President of Marketing/Events, Crissy Baumann said. “We could not continue to grow and sustain the vision we have for the teachers and students of Aldine ISD without the contributions of our donors. We are so very grateful.”

The Aldine Education Foundation was created in February 2012. The board of directors consists of 33 dedicated members of the Aldine community who share a passion for public education and gathering resources to provide opportunities to Aldine students. The mission of the Aldine Education Foundation is to partner with the community to generate and distribute resources to enrich teaching, inspire learning, and maximize innovative opportunities for all students in the Aldine school district.

Economic Development report at East Aldine indicates strong growth in future

Job opportunities will follow growth

NORTHEAST – The East Aldine District heard a report from their economic development consultant, Ray Lawrence, at the last board meeting on June 24th. In a thorough review of available land in the district and adjoining, Lawrence pointed out that district land has become very desireable by developers, and a number of projects are underway. In addition, an inventory of available land indicates that the purchase and building of commercial buildings in the area will accelerate at a fast pace.

In particular, Lawrence showed slides that indicated many parcels along the Sam Houston Parkway that are slated for development as hotels, commercial buildings, and industrial projects.

He said that Halliburton, IIG – International Investment Group, and Kennedy Greens all have work underway. These projects will generate a number of local construction jobs, and permanent employment in the future he said. In addition, many will contribute sales tax revenue to the district. Since Kennedy Greens is almost completely built out, Clay Development is planning another project south of this, at JFK and Lauder Road intersection. The project is to be known as Kennedy Greens South, on a 45 acre tract. Lawrence expected construction on this to start in the next 60 days.

Lawrence noted that the oil boom, and the proximity to JFK airport, are leading reasons for the development pace here.

NF Attorney: “It’s Over”: North Forest gets the boot

District loses 3 appeals, vacates buildings

NORTH FOREST – Last week was the final week in the existence of North Forest ISD, as the district’s attorneys lost 3 appeals and the Supreme Court invalidated part of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was the last chance NFISD had for a favorable ruling on their existence.

The district spent almost $600,000 trying to save itself from being annexed into the adjoining Houston ISD. The Texas Education Agency had ordered the annexation over a year ago, but delayed it due to updating test scores and other technicalities, as well as numerous legal challenges by NFISD.

TEA had set July 1st as the date for HISD to annex the North Forest District. The determination by Education Commissioner Michael Williams was based on a long history of financial mismangement and inadequate student test scores and completion rates at the high school.

Therefore on Monday, July 1 the Houston ISD will officially occupy all of the buildings, schools, buses, and other aspects of the now defunct NFISD.

In preparation for this changeover, HISD has had police occupying the buildings last week, and on Thursday the TEA conservator ordered all North Forest personnel evicted from the premises with less than two hours notice.

Leading up to the defeat of the NF district were a series of legal maneuvers and court appeals by the district’s attorneys, Chris Tritico and Ron Raney.

The first appeal was to the Administrative Hearing judge in Austin, which was refused last May 24th. Tritico then got a TRO, or Temporary Restraining Order, from the Appeals Court in Austin. This was to gain time for a full appeal, or to hear from the Department of Justice on a preclearance that was needed to affect voting changes. The hearing in 53rd Judicial court that followed, denied the appeal on grounds of no jurisdiction.

Next, they took an appeal to the federal court in Houston, and Judge Hittner issued a ruling on Wednesday, June 26 denying the request. In his sharply worded ruling, Judge Hittner noted that it was too late to stop the huge effort at changeover, and “considering the above-referenced logistical burdens as part of the public’s interest, NFISD’s well documented educational struggles are also relevant. The Plaintiffs have not shown that it is in the best interests of the children– the most relevant subsection of the public in this analysis– to maintain the status quo at NFISD.”

On June 25th, a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, and so NFISD’s hope for this avenue became moot.

The final legal effort was to the Texas Supreme Court. The attorneys petitioned for an emergency hearing on a TRO, but this was denied on Friday. This led Tritico to comment “It’s Over.”

HISD had said they will conduct summer school for North Forest students from July 8th to August 1st. Parents should contact their local school for details.

HISD has promised in a letter from superintendent Terry Grier, that NF homeowners will have a reduction in their tax rates due to HISD’s financial strength.