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Paul Carr fired from Houston Heights Association

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http://www.theleadernews.com/?p=15660

I just wanted to post this and inform the community of this story. Make your own opinions but personally, I think it is appalling. For anyone who knows Paul and Mary and the numerous things they have done for the Heights for decades, I think they will agree.

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I was interested in joining the HHA when we first moved to the area but decided not to when I realized I was opposed to most of the items on their agenda. It's happening in Woodland Heights and probably will happen to EADO after its "gentrification". I hope Mr. Carr starts another organization in which the first goal will be to "Keep it Heights"!

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My kids play on the train and love it.  I assumed that the train was built in consultation with the HHA as it is on their property.  I did wonder about safety as the train is wood (some pressure treated wood has arsenic and should not be used in playground equipment) and I have seen kids climbing on the roof of the train with no hand rails or anything keeping them from falling. 

 

While there are certainly some juicy politics going on, I could really care less about them if the train does not meet safety standards.  And while you all are free to argue about trail lawyers and over protective parents, that argument should not be carried out in real time at a children's playground.  Sure, I can chose to not take my kids to that park if I do not believe the train is safe.  However, I should never have to be in that position.  Anything that goes up in a playground should be reviewed for compliance with safety standards before a single kid plays on it.  I do not care whether someone donates there last pennies and ends up homeless in order to build some playground equipment for kids.  If it isn't safe, it should not go up. 

 

 

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My kids play on the train and love it.  I assumed that the train was built in consultation with the HHA as it is on their property.  I did wonder about safety as the train is wood (some pressure treated wood has arsenic and should not be used in playground equipment) and I have seen kids climbing on the roof of the train with no hand rails or anything keeping them from falling. 

 

While there are certainly some juicy politics going on, I could really care less about them if the train does not meet safety standards.  And while you all are free to argue about trail lawyers and over protective parents, that argument should not be carried out in real time at a children's playground.  Sure, I can chose to not take my kids to that park if I do not believe the train is safe.  However, I should never have to be in that position.  Anything that goes up in a playground should be reviewed for compliance with safety standards before a single kid plays on it.  I do not care whether someone donates there last pennies and ends up homeless in order to build some playground equipment for kids.  If it isn't safe, it should not go up. 

 

While I can't comment on the safety of the design of the train, I wouldn't worry too much about arsenic in the treated wood.  That was phased out for most uses sometime in the last decade (other than some industrial and commercial applications).

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My kids play on the train and love it.  I assumed that the train was built in consultation with the HHA as it is on their property.  I did wonder about safety as the train is wood (some pressure treated wood has arsenic and should not be used in playground equipment) and I have seen kids climbing on the roof of the train with no hand rails or anything keeping them from falling. 

 

While there are certainly some juicy politics going on, I could really care less about them if the train does not meet safety standards.  And while you all are free to argue about trail lawyers and over protective parents, that argument should not be carried out in real time at a children's playground.  Sure, I can chose to not take my kids to that park if I do not believe the train is safe.  However, I should never have to be in that position.  Anything that goes up in a playground should be reviewed for compliance with safety standards before a single kid plays on it.  I do not care whether someone donates there last pennies and ends up homeless in order to build some playground equipment for kids.  If it isn't safe, it should not go up. 

 

That's all moot. HHA met with their insurance people and the train was determined safe enough to stay right where it is. It is telling that they are keeping the train and dropping the guy.

Edited by kylejack
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no more trees.  Kids could play with sticks and get splinters.  There shouldn't be handrails on the roof, that isn't what the roof of a train is for.  Parents should either tell their kids not to play on the roof of the train... or allow them to take that risk. 

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Wise decision. If this guy doesn't ask for permission to build a train, what else is he plotting?  We've probably saved hundreds from rusty nail climbing walls, trip wire playlands, and hidden pitfall tiger traps.  If he didn't ask permission to build this train, what else is he hiding!?

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Here's Chronic's December 2013 highly favorable article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/chronicles/article/Kids-get-an-early-Christmas-at-Heights-park-5087057.php

 

A telling excerpt:
...All told, he spent about $4,500 on the project, most of it for the lumber, which is 100 percent treated. It took him about four months to build.

He largely kept his plans to himself, he says, out of concern he might run into some opposition from the association.

 

"A couple of board members that have dinner at my home on a regular basis, they knew I was working on something like this in the shop," he tells me.

"There are reasons it needed to be done that way. To have sold them on building something out of wood and putting it in the park here would have been a little difficult, probably. But everybody likes it now."  There is no doubt the children do....

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Here's Chronic's December 2013 highly favorable article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/chronicles/article/Kids-get-an-early-Christmas-at-Heights-park-5087057.php

 

A telling excerpt:

...All told, he spent about $4,500 on the project, most of it for the lumber, which is 100 percent treated. It took him about four months to build.

He largely kept his plans to himself, he says, out of concern he might run into some opposition from the association.

 

"A couple of board members that have dinner at my home on a regular basis, they knew I was working on something like this in the shop," he tells me.

"There are reasons it needed to be done that way. To have sold them on building something out of wood and putting it in the park here would have been a little difficult, probably. But everybody likes it now."  There is no doubt the children do....

 

So, this is now starting to come together.  I have heard that HHA previously had to settle a claim when a kid got hurt pretty badly on some old splintering wood.  That is why they rebuilt the playground at Donovan to replace most of the wood with the plastic stuff.  I have heard that this was also at the direction of the insurer.

 

I am sure this could have all been handled better by all parties.  Paul Carr is certainly very generous to do what he did, but that does not mean that he has the right to bypass the HHA board.  If there was a problem with the design and a kid got hurt, HHA would get sued and have to write the check.  Unless he is a real estate magnate, Paul Carr would probably be judgment proof and not a target of a plaintiff's lawyer.  As such, HHA certainly should have the right to review and approve additions to playground equipment.  But if HHA intended to keep it, they cannot then show Paul Carr the door (and give the contract to a relative of a board member) and expect the community to be ok with that.  This should have resulted in a final warning, assuming that Paul Carr had been otherwise doing his duties satisfactorily.  Who knows, had Paul Carr come through the front door on this, HHA could have probably raised enough money to pay for all the materials and even made it out of the plastic boards so it will be easier to maintain and last longer. 

 

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My son got hurt.

He fell off the roof of the train and hit his chin and forehead on the coal car on the way down.  I had to take off work at take him to the doctor because he had a bump on his forehead the size of an egg and I was worried he might have a concussion. :-(  In my business that would be "a recordable" and would raise a lot of eyebrows.

 

Cheers
James

Edited by jamesw

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Ditto here, James. In my shop with this kind of a fall, the finding would likely be that the subject was not qualified for the task, not adequately trained, and improperly supervised. 

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http://www.houstonheights.org/html/news.html

 

The official response from the HHA.  He did ask my wife once if she was a member.  We are and the encounter was pleasant.  But I have heard that others who are not members who were approached by him about whether they were members complained to HHA.  So, I can understand that it was necessary to let him go as there was apparently a history of problems.  As noted above, kids climbing on top of the train is a definite safety issue.  All Paul Carr had to do was go through the proper channels and none of this would have been an issue.  

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http://www.houstonheights.org/html/news.html

 

The official response from the HHA.  He did ask my wife once if she was a member.  We are and the encounter was pleasant.  But I have heard that others who are not members who were approached by him about whether they were members complained to HHA.  So, I can understand that it was necessary to let him go as there was apparently a history of problems.  As noted above, kids climbing on top of the train is a definite safety issue.  All Paul Carr had to do was go through the proper channels and none of this would have been an issue.  

 

I have to disagree.  The whole park would not be there if it weren't for people contributing their time, money and talents.  Evidently Mr. Carr went beyond most people I know in building the train. 

 

Since we had kids Donovan park has been a true treasure and I hate to think that insurance and approval processes will trump such a kind thing.   

 

I think HHA should approach more people that are using their services to contribute, not less.  They could have a table set up on any Saturday and bring in a killing.

 

There was obviously a strained relationship before the train.

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I have to disagree.  The whole park would not be there if it weren't for people contributing their time, money and talents.  Evidently Mr. Carr went beyond most people I know in building the train. 

 

Since we had kids Donovan park has been a true treasure and I hate to think that insurance and approval processes will trump such a kind thing.   

 

I think HHA should approach more people that are using their services to contribute, not less.  They could have a table set up on any Saturday and bring in a killing.

 

There was obviously a strained relationship before the train.

 

The park is HHA property, not the city.  HHA does not have any governmental immunity or any of the benefits of the Texas Tort Claims Act.  The only protection they have against a lawsuit is insurance.  Fortunately, nothing happened and they have been able to insure the train.  But had there been a serious accident before they were able to get insurance, HHA's assets would be exposed.  Mr. Carr's generosity does not change that fact.

 

From what I have heard, Mr. Carr was not soliciting membership as much as he was trying to exclude non-members (whether overtly or by implication).  Even though he was friendly to my wife, she thought it was very odd for someone to be approaching people in the park just to ask if they were members.  I agree that HHA should solicit membership at the park.  But the park must be open to all, as is the policy of HHA.  Anything short of that will add to the perception of an elitist Heights community. 

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... Anything short of that will add to the perception of an elitist Heights community. 

 

Yeah, and then they might take the marathon away from us...wait a second.....I did volunteer marathon road guard duty again, most of us Heights guards got banished to Montrose half-marathon, I had Bissonnet/Montrose, easiest volunteer job ever, no locals, just cops and a few suburban families cheering on mom....felt like I got retired from the toughest job to cleaning crap out of parks.

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No good deed goes unpunished.  Sad state of affairs when insurance, lawsuits, personal agendas, etc get in the way of a kid playing on a train donated by a nice guy.

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Yeah, and then they might take the marathon away from us...wait a second.....I did volunteer marathon road guard duty again, most of us Heights guards got banished to Montrose half-marathon, I had Bissonnet/Montrose, easiest volunteer job ever, no locals, just cops and a few suburban families cheering on mom....felt like I got retired from the toughest job to cleaning crap out of parks.

 

At the risk of getting banished from this thread, I ran the marathon.  I missed running through the Heights.  The crowds in the Heights were way better than those down in River Oaks.  But getting the race off of the viaduct made a huge difference for the marathon.  The viaduct was a bad choke point for the race.  Runners would go from 4 lanes to 2 lanes just over a half mile from the start.  Mid pack runners would have to stop and walk when they got on the viaduct because it was so crowded.  This year, the start flowed much better than it had in the past as runners had four lanes all the way through W. Gray.  Houston has very limited startline choices for the marathon.  In NY, they are able to get 45,000 off because they start on the Verrazano Narrows bridge with twelve lanes between the upper and lower decks of the bridge.  In Houston, even with the much improved start, it still took almost a half hour to get everybody out of just four lanes. 

 

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At the risk of getting banished from this thread, I ran the marathon.  I missed running through the Heights.  The crowds in the Heights were way better than those down in River Oaks.  But getting the race off of the viaduct made a huge difference for the marathon.  The viaduct was a bad choke point for the race.  Runners would go from 4 lanes to 2 lanes just over a half mile from the start.  Mid pack runners would have to stop and walk when they got on the viaduct because it was so crowded.  This year, the start flowed much better than it had in the past as runners had four lanes all the way through W. Gray.  Houston has very limited startline choices for the marathon.  In NY, they are able to get 45,000 off because they start on the Verrazano Narrows bridge with twelve lanes between the upper and lower decks of the bridge.  In Houston, even with the much improved start, it still took almost a half hour to get everybody out of just four lanes. 

 

 

In every other city people know how to merge.  Here they can't even do it while running, let alone driving.

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