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trymahjong

2/10/20 meeting for public input re: Bridge over Brazos street at Spur 527

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1 hour ago, trymahjong said:

Is there an “elsewhere” to put it? 😕


We need to truly understand the need here-

1. do we want better walkability?

2. do we want more green space?

3. do we just want less freeway?


1: there are options to decrease lanes to allow for better pedestrian walkability

 

2: there are many older 60’s era apartments that could be converted to green space. Also blocks in midtown could be converted to parks, much like what’s happening in downtown.

 

3. if this is the true reason, masked as a needed park, I would think this idea will go forward.

 

I am in the landscape design business. I help create outdoor spaces, parks, wildlife on a regular basis. The proposal just really looks like paths with some trees. While I love green space, it doesn’t feel like a “park”. I think traffic headaches would increase. If it ends up being a full fledge park, where would visitors park / hang out. We have to be a smart about these proposals. Sticking a park at the expense of traffic ease is not the way to win over the general public.

 

 

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More programming would probably require MMD to throw some money at it, which I imagine they eventually would. To me the obvious precedent here is Bastop Street in EADO which has been gradually upgraded over time - even if you think this would need more programming that's something that could come later.

 

But this really does a few things -

1. it creates a park (even if it's just trees and grass to start) at a location that I believe is genuinely well placed

2. it creates a very high quality, pleasant pedestrian and cycling connection between Holman and Brazos

3. it creates a public area for all the residential construction nearby

4. it replaces the existing wall between Montrose and Midtown with a shared gathering space

 

I really don't understand the opposition to this plan. Partly because it sounds wonderful, but also because I have literally never used this ramp. 

 

Not when I lived in Avondale.

Not when I lived in Midtown.

Not when I lived in Riverside.

Not when I lived in west Montrose.

Not when I lived in SugarLand.

 

Never. Not once. 

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I hope I didn’t mislead anyone or confuse anyone COH was always consistent using the term “ green space” as I-hope I have used that term. This is the term for that small median at intersection of Elgin, Westheimer and Bagby that Avondale Civic hopes to become stewards of. There is another small green space at Tuam, Fairview and Genesee. These small green spaces are all one could hope for as all the  remaining land within Midtown and Montrose seems spoken for- sigh

Edited by trymahjong
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On 3/26/2020 at 9:26 AM, Avossos said:

there are many older 60’s era apartments that could be converted to green space.

And then what? 
There would be fewer residents in the area. Fewer residents means less demand for park space. 
It would reduce the number of affordable apartments in Montrose, which are increasingly difficult to find. Even more of the people who made this neighborhood interesting to begin with will be forced out. 
That's some mighty expensive dirt under those apartments - and the owners know it. I can't imagine the city spending millions to buy and demolish taxable property for the sake of tiny parks that will serve a handful of people. 
OTOH, the greens space that will replace the Spur is land that we already own.
In addition to the excellent points made by @Texasota (see above) it will also provide pedestrians a safe and enjoyable connection between Lower Westheimer/Elgin and the eastern end of W Alabama (an area which hasn't been given much love).
We've grown so used to the ugliness and inconvenience caused by the Spur that it's difficult to picture the neighborhood without it. 
Its elimination will be a vast improvement.

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15 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:


That's some mighty expensive dirt under those apartments - and the owners know it. I can't imagine the city spending millions to buy and demolish taxable property for the sake of tiny parks that will serve a handful of people. 
OTOH, the greens space that will replace the Spur is land that we already own.
 

 

This alone is more than sufficient reason to go ahead and make it a park/greenspace.  Realistically, little pockets like this are the only chance we have given the rising cost of land in the area.

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2 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

Giant Midtown Park is literally 4 blocks from this corner 🙄

And isn't that nice. And irrelevant.
Pay attention: the abandonment of this section of the Spur will not create a park. Not. A. Park.
What it will do is remove an awkward, ugly obstruction that should never have been built to begin with. It's the Montrose/Midtown equivalent of the Berlin Wall. 
Reclaiming that land will create a green space that will allow residents (especially in Westmoreland) much easier access to the Red Line, and the growing restaurant scene south of Elgin. It will provide a safer, more pleasant, and more direct connection  between Elgin and W. Alabama. 
If you choose to dispute this, I can say with certainty that you haven't walked around this part of town very much (or, more likely, at all).
I lived in Westmoreland for almost 25 years.  I know this part of town VERY well, and the frustrations brought about by the intrusion of that damn highway into an urban neighborhood. 
There is no shame to changing your mind in light of new evidence. I hope that you will reconsider your position.

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4 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

Giant Midtown Park is literally 4 blocks from this corner 🙄

 

True, but opportunities to add greenspace are going to be few and far between in an area like this.  Heading west from midtown park you have to go past Montrose Blvd before you find the next park.  Plus, there are already on and off ramps for 527 nearby so having an extra one there is redundant.

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4 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

What it will do is remove an awkward, ugly obstruction that should never have been built to begin with. It's the Montrose/Midtown equivalent of the Berlin Wall. 
It will provide a safer, more pleasant, and more direct connection  between Elgin and W. Alabama. 
I lived in Westmoreland for almost 25 years.  I know this part of town VERY well, and the frustrations brought about by the intrusion of that damn highway into an urban neighborhood.

Why do you think the Houston taxpayers should provide you (or anyone else) a bailout for your decision to live in a neighborhood next to a freeway that you now regret? The freeway has been there much longer than 25 years. This is morally bankrupt. You are owed nothing. Also, the implication that this needs to be done for the good of an urban neighborhood is elitist and while it may be your opinion, it does not justify the economic and social damage, nor the moral hazards, you seek to create.

8 hours ago, august948 said:

This alone is more than sufficient reason to go ahead and make it a park/greenspace.  Realistically, little pockets like this are the only chance we have given the rising cost of land in the area.

Given that we're on the cusp of creating the precedent that it's OK to bulldoze highly used roads to build pseudo-parks in urban areas, this is not a valid argument.

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2 hours ago, bulldog said:

Why do you think the Houston taxpayers should provide you (or anyone else) a bailout for your decision to live in a neighborhood next to a freeway that you now regret? The freeway has been there much longer than 25 years. This is morally bankrupt. You are owed nothing. Also, the implication that this needs to be done for the good of an urban neighborhood is elitist and while it may be your opinion, it does not justify the economic and social damage, nor the moral hazards, you seek to create.

Given that we're on the cusp of creating the precedent that it's OK to bulldoze highly used roads to build pseudo-parks in urban areas, this is not a valid argument.

 

It's a completely valid argument given that there are existing on and off ramps a block or two away.  I use both on and off ramps several times each week (during non-pandemic times) and there is never a backup so having an extra set a block or two away already proves these are redundant.

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20 hours ago, bulldog said:

Why do you think the Houston taxpayers should provide you (or anyone else) a bailout for your decision to live in a neighborhood next to a freeway that you now regret?

Please allow me to correct you on a couple of points. First of all, the word 'bailout' does not mean whatever it is you seem to think it does. The definition is "an act of giving financial assistance to a failing business or economy to save it from collapse." Perhaps you meant 'handout'? But that makes no sense either. No one's asking for charity, only to be treated fairly.
The second half of this run-on sentence is just as problematic as the first. I'll answer to one possible interpretation of that sentence by saying that in no way do I regret living in Westmoreland. I regret that the freeway was built there, but that was hardly my error, as I was four years old at the time and living 1500 miles away.

 

20 hours ago, bulldog said:

Given that we're on the cusp of creating the precedent that it's OK to bulldoze highly used roads to build pseudo-parks in urban areas, this is not a valid argument.

Thank you for bringing this up. I cannot imagine how we've overlooked something so apparent. 
Far from "creating a precedent'", abandoning underused, intrusive, poorly designed and antiquated freeways is now an accepted practice. Think of the West Side Highway in Manhattan, or Boston's Central Artery ("the other Green Monster"), or the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco. Even smaller cities have jumped on the bandwagon (the abandonment and reclamation of the Inner Loop in Rochester, NY). In every one of these cases, freeways were eliminated and the cities benefited by their absence.
This "precedent setting" practice has been going on for forty years. It's time for Houston to reevaluate some of the choices (and mistakes) that were made many years ago.

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21 hours ago, bulldog said:

Also, the implication that this needs to be done for the good of an urban neighborhood is elitist and while it may be your opinion, it does not justify the economic and social damage, nor the moral hazards, you seek to create.

Sorry, I almost forgot to address this remarkable statement.
Why is doing something good for an urban neighborhood elitist? Given your proclivity for using words in novel ways, I assume that you mean something, but I cannot puzzle out what it might be.
And please tell me more about the economic and social damage. I'll be interested to hear about it. I doubt the lack of a freeway entrance is going to doom Midtown's Whole Foods, and lead to Amazon's collapse. Same goes for Spec's, and Randall's. Let's hold them to the same standards that TXDot does to existing businesses, churches, schools, etc. when they're building or expanding freeways: "Get over it."
I'm especially interested in the "moral hazards" I seek to create. While I'm not as frisky as I once was, this does sound intriguing. Tell me more, and don't skip any of the details. I'm a big boy. I can take it.

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I have mixed feelings about the park. On the one hand I use Bagby St. when I come home while using the IH10 East Frwy westbound from Baytown where I work. I live in the Audobon Place neighborhood and use Bagby to get off on Hawthorne. But today I rode by the small park on the north side of Camden McGowen and saw lots of homeless people using that park to camp out in. I realize that this park will become a homeless encampment since it will belong to the city and they don't crack down on these people.  But the park on the southern side of Camden McGowen is patrolled by private security and they do a good job keeping the homeless from congregating there. I have a feeling this too will become a homeless camp since a lot of homeless people come down Hawthorne going to Covenant House to get free meals.

 

When I come home on 225 I use Pease from IH 45 and don't go by here but use Milam St. to get home.

 

I love parks but this may not the right place for one since the city does little to patrol their parks. 

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