A controversial project for street and drainage improvements and a beautified “streetscape” in Bellaire’s Spruce/Fifth Street commercial area is up for funding at City Council tonight (Feb. 18) — and enough of a crowd is expected that the city has sent out advice on parking.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 7000 S. Rice Ave., and because of continuing construction of municipal facilities, parking is a challenge. The city suggests:
•The spaces along Jessamine Street in front of the new Police/Courts building;
•The Condit ES parking lot off South Rice. A police officer will be stationed at the corner of Jessamine and South Rice to aid pedestrians and provide directions.
•In the Aquatics/Recreation Center parking lot off Fifth Street, or in spaces along Fifth between Laurel and Jessamine. Parking there would require cutting through Bellaire Town Square to reach City Hall.
For nearly a year, the proposed Spruce/Fifth project has drawn the ire of businesses in the area — many longtime, small service businesses — that say reconfigured parking will hurt them and that there concerns aren’t being addressed. Some residents have also protested, with the city rebutting their arguments, that the project is unnecessary because street and drainage improvements have largely been performed as part of construction of the new H-E-B market, and that city leaders have been murky in their planning and costs.
City Manager Paul Hofmann responded with a point-by-point “balanced and accurate” rebuttal citing public outrage on other issues that caused “council to be convinced to change direction.”
“An unfortunate element of the public discussion was the consistent use of misinformation,” Hofmann’s rebuttal concluded. “That information certainly stoked the outrage.”
The controversy has led to dueling letter-writing campaigns to council, and those messages will be read into the record tonight as part of public comment.
The meeting will be live-streamed on the city website, bellairetx.gov, and for AT&T U-verse customers, by selecting Bellaire municipal coverage on Channel 99.