The Bellaire City Council approved a bid for the Baldwin Avenue drainage project on Monday night – without sidewalks.
Council approved a bid from Metro City Construction, LP for $6,319,905. Metro City Construction was the lowest of eight bids.
The project includes improvements to the storm sewer and reinforcement of the concrete pavement with curb and gutters, sidewalks and driveways in the 4300-4400 blocks of Edith, Lafayette, Holt, Dorothy, Cynthia, Valerie, Darsey, Effie, Vivian, Mildred, Verone, Wendell, Jim West, Betty, Lula, Oleander, Jonathan, Phil, Jane and Ione.
The project is expected to take 18 months to complete and is being funded through Metro mobility funds and bonds.
Council also approved the construction of a storm water detention pond, which was considered as an ad alternate.
The city needs detention space to fulfill the requirements for the construction of the Baldwin Avenue extreme event storm drainage system. There is a possibility that the city will not have to construct a detention pond if the City of Houston approves its request to purchase four acre-feet of detention capacity in the Meyer Tract.
A sidewalk along the west side of Baldwin was also bid as an ad alternate for the project, but failed on a three-to-four vote.
Council asked staff in August to send out a notice to residents asking whether or not they were in favor of sidewalks on Baldwin. The city sent out 836 surveys to residents; 207 were opposed to sidewalks and 85 were in favor.
Council also heard from numerous residents during a neighborhood meeting in July, during a council meeting in August and during last night’s meeting, saying they did not want sidewalks to be included in the drainage project.
The residents said that the sidewalk would impact those with short driveways, it would take up green and it would decrease property values. Several residents also said that because their lots are smaller, they would have people walking right past their living rooms and porches and it would disrupt their quality of life.
Councilman Andrew Friedberg said he is generally in support of sidewalks, but he believes Baldwin is unique and is an exception.
The lots are smaller, sidewalks would be inaccessible because residents park in their driveways and Baldwin is not a through street, he said.
Both Councilman Jim Avioli and Councilman Roman Reed said they made several trips over to Baldwin and listened to input from residents.
“The resident outcry is no sidewalks on Baldwin,” Reed said.
Councilwoman Mandy Nathan, Mayor Pro Tem Phil Nauert and Mayor Cindy Siegel all said not having sidewalks was a safety issue.
“If a kid one day is hit and we had the opportunity then shame on us,” Siegel said.
City Attorney Alan Petrov told the council that the city would not be liable if someone was hit on Baldwin and there wasn’t a sidewalk.