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About OnTheOtherHand

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  1. I envision a park that would attract locals and tourists of all ages for walking, people watching, exploring, exercise, thrill seeking, relaxing, birthday parties, weddings, festivals, etc. with the following features: A great lawn for events, picnics, and kids playing. A lake fed by waterfalls connected to a circular river with small rental boats. Trees and plants throughout including butterfly gardens. A Grand Promenade that circles the park and smaller winding trails. A playground, splash park, and carousel for kids. A large climbing wall on a “cliff” at the edge of the park. A mini railroad loop. A large amphitheater and smaller amphitheater. Shelters/areas that can be reserved for weddings, birthday parties, meetings, etc. Loads of unreserved picnic tables and benches. “Buttes” rising from the floor of the park with tunnels within and “caves” overlooking the park. Rope bridges and zip lines connecting the tops of the buttes to the cliffs at the edge of the park. A main plaza area with commercial shops. Food and drink shops (restaurants, ice cream, snacks, smoothies, bars, etc.). A bike loop and separate running loop around upper level outer perimeter walkways. General park admission (and parking) should be free. Revenues for park upkeep would be partially generated by fees for reserved areas and fees from park businesses such as restaurants, shops, railroad rides, boat rentals, carousel, rock climbing, zip lines, amphitheater events, locker rooms, etc. The park would be a great place to host large events and festivals up to once a month with music in the amphitheaters and booth areas located all around the Grand Promenade. A fountain and light show could be developed with water spraying out of islands and buttes into the lake combined with colored lights and projectors for shows visible from many areas in the park.
  2. While we're dreaming, here's my idea: Phase 1: Build a new sunken highway along the railroad right-of-way extending from Highway 59 just south of Buffalo Bayou to I-45 near U of H. Put the rail lines below grade too so they don't divide the east side of town. Phase 2. With Phase 1 relieving some traffic, shut down Highway 59 from the I-45 intersection to just south of the bayou, rebuild it below grade, and cover it to create parks and/or commercial property. Phase 3. With Phases 1 and 2 relieving traffic, eliminate through traffic on the Pierce Elevated. Maintain some existing ramps that connect I-10 to downtown on the west side. Keep the existing Pierce Elevated structure (maybe narrow it by 50% at parts) and convert it to an elevated park (like NYC's High Line) with elevated connections to future residential & commercial properties and running & bike paths that connect to existing bike paths near I-10 and to future paths heading toward U of H.
  3. Several years ago, I saw another lock on the Brazos further upstream. It's visible just north of the FM 485 bridge across the Brazos just west of Hearne, and was built around the same time as the other locks. There was a community on the bluff just north of the lock called Port Sullivan. It grew and prospered in the mid 1800s but then died when railroads were built to neighboring towns but not to Port Sullivan. It had disappeared even before the lock was built. Here are some links discussing the dam, Port Sullivan, and navigation on the Brazos: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrp52 http://books.google.com/books?id=-OxnaXdxjgkC&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=lock+hearne+brazos+army+corps&source=bl&ots=M_5e_YifZu&sig=juYK0p8Y9lhvh0Xbk3trgPKDgN0&hl=en&ei=pxlqTojHLum2sQK67bSqBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false http://www.forttumbleweed.net/steamboats.html
  4. Do any other cities have better methods for rationing water? The current system makes you go 4 days between watering but then allows you to run your system full blast for 14 straight hours (8 pm to 10 am). But you're not allowed to run for 30 minutes every other day. The current system also acts on the honor/snitch system. You can probably get away with watering any day in the middle of the night. And if your neighbors like you, you can probably water any time. Wouldn't it be better just to allow each household to use an average amount of water each month with a draconian surcharge for any use over a set amount? Consumers could decide how valuable their water really is. If you can afford it, you can water all you want. And as part of the deal, the city would have to use the surcharges to help develop better water supplies or to pay more overtime to fix leaks. I guess one disadvantage is that the rich get a special privilege, but that's nothing new. Also, someone could get a shocking water bill if they're not careful; it might be useful to tell people how to read their own water meter so they can gauge their usage. Another disadvantage is that the city might use the system as a sneaky way to increase revenue. An advantage is that you can easily adjust the system according to the situation by changing the set point where the price goes up and by changing the rate for water over the limit. Also, there's no need for depending on the honor system or snitches; you just depend on the bill. The biggest advantage is that the system self corrects: the extra money raised by surcharges will be spent increasing water supplies and reducing leaks (I'm probably being naive here). Do any other cities use such a market-based system?
  5. Would it be possible for the city to acquire weekend rights to part of the parking lot? I assume that these lots make most of their money during the weekdays. If the city bought weekend rights to the 1/3 of the parking lot closest to the park, they could make some simple improvements (like brick paving and a few trees), and use this area for weekend events such as a farmer's market or occasional festivals. Preston could be temporarily closed during these weekend events and possibly even be used as a location for marker/festival booths. The rest of the parking lot would still be parking, and it might even make more money when there were weekend events at the park. The whole lot would still be used for parking during weekdays. One flaw with this is that I assume that most downtown parking lot owners would sell their lots immediately if a buyer offered the right price. I don't know how they would arrange a lease to the city while still maintaining this sales flexibility. Of course, with the current market, they might take a little short-term lease money from the city rather than holding out for a big sale. This also would involve the city either spending money or figuring out some other way to fund the project. Does anyone know the owner of the parking lot? Is there any chance that something like this (with pretty minimal up-front costs) could be financed privately? The city could arrange to close the street during events, provide security, and maybe accept some liability, and the owner would organize events that allow him to get some return on any improvements or time invested. Just a thought.
  6. I would appreciate some advice on how to find or create a Geographic Information System (GIS) for presenting local historical information. 1. The primary navigation/geographical interface would be through a current map or aerial view of the area. This would be from Wikimapia, google, or some similar map that allows moving around and zooming in and out. 2. The user could click on a box to get a list of all of the historical maps of the area (each with a box that could be clicked to turn the map on or off). These would be scaled so that they could be superimposed over each other. 3. The user could click a box to reveal links to photos. The links would then appear on the map at the location where the photo was taken identified with a date and an arrow showing the direction the photo looks. Ideally, current photos could be taken to compare with historic ones taken at the same location. 4. The user could click a box to reveal links to site histories. This would expose links on the map with information related to particular sites such as buildings. The links could have brief descriptions or detailed websites. The link activation might be triggered by the dates of the selected maps (information on building wouldn't appear on maps prior to the building
  7. Here's a map of current utilities in the area. Only the lots within the old "park" have service. This doesn't prove that nothing was built in the original house lots around the "park", but if they were built, they probably didn't have water or sewer service. I'll go along with the hypothesis that the neighborhood was planned with a great park in the middle, but the plans fell through sometime after 1895 (when the patch just south of the park was platted). Little or nothing was developed on the house lots, and the "park" land stayed in private hands. A rail line and HL&P right of way were cut through the planned neighborhood. Somehow, the developer's fancy park layout was copied onto other maps though never built. Continuing my guesswork, in 1951, the "park" land within the nonexisting neighborhood was bought and platted. Utilities were brought in along Mississippi and Maxine. This time, houses were actually built. The areas around the park where houses were supposed to be was redeveloped as industrial/commercial land. Ironically, the original plan with housing around a park became industries around housing. I wonder what the developer was thinking in 1893. This was just after the Heights was developed. Was this supposed to be another suburb? It was near a rail line that could have been used by commuters (maybe a station was planned at the south end of the neighborhood). If not a suburb, where would the people work? This was prior to the major deepening/widening of the ship channel. Maybe the park like the entire neighborhood was the result of overly optimistic thinking.
  8. The Woodson Research Center at Rice's Fondren Library is now open. It has an archive of Judge Harris Masterson's papers, mostly between 1880 and 1920 dealing with land litigation and investments in Harris and surrounding counties. Box 223, Folder 15 of the archives is listed as "Brunsville, Town of". The website is: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ricewrc/001...ce-00134p3.html Is Gnu still interested? Is it worth a trip to the Library or are you all hands-on field types? If anyone has some software for removing haze from photos, there may even be some hints in these from the Bob Bailey Studios. The one with the Aircraft Carrier is from 1952 and the other is from 1949. Brunsville is in the distant background of both photos. Good luck.
  9. Here's a possible wild goose chase for you. The Woodson Research Center at Rice's Fondren Library has an archive of Judge Harris Masterson's papers, mostly between 1880 and 1920. He "dealt largely with land litigation and investments in Harris and surrounding counties." "Masterson set up several land corporations with his brother A.R. Masterson and son Neill. Two of these were the Texas Town Lot & Improvement Company and the Houston Town Lot & Improvement Company. Although these companies on occasion contracted to build houses on the land they sold, their primary function was to buy large tracts of land and break them into smaller lots. Much of this land was sold to what would today be called the middle and lower class people of Houston." Here's the possibly interesting part. Box 223, Folder 15 of the archives is listed as "Brunsville, Town of". Here's the website: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ricewrc/001...ce-00134p3.html Now for the bad news. The research center is closed for renovations until February, though there may be some limited access. Happy researching.
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