The third question in InstantnewsBellaire’s Q&A series with Bellaire City Council candidates deals with improvements to city services.
We asked candidates:
What area of city service do you believe needs most improvement and what steps would you initiate to make those improvements?
Here are the answers from the four candidates for Place 3 on the council. Scroll to the bottom for information on the procedures of this Q&A.
I have discussed other areas for improvement in my policy paper available at http://www.corbettparker.com/issues.pdf).
Since my years of growing up in Bellaire, most residents have felt blessed to live in a centrally located municipality that controls the majority of its public services. To be a great city, you have to be a safe city. Safety is a quality of life issue and an economic one. Many residents move to Bellaire and others stay because of the safety our fire, police and EMS provide. I am the only candidate that participated in a police ride around and met with the police and fire departments’ leadership to get a first hand understanding of operations, and ensure they have the necessary resources.
Bellaire should improve its facilitation of communication so council and city officials may better listen to residents. Improving communication will enhance our ability to effectively improve other areas currently lacking. The easier it is for residents to remain informed, the more likely they are to engage council and work along side it to implement improvements.
While Bellaiire has improved the functionality of its website (placing previously unavailable public documents and parks and recreation activities/registration online), we remain behind other cities…especially in making common city services (such as automated inspections) accessible online.
While Bellaire must continue using traditional forms of communication, Bellaire must also embrace 21st century technology (social networking = Facebook, Twitter,). Although all residents will not immediately utilize these new platforms, Bellaire must be forward-looking in implementing new technology platforms. Many department heads I discussed this with are interested in regularly providing short updates on city operations, and the Library Director is excited about the possibility of providing classes for those wanting to learn. With your support, I will ensure Bellaire’s leaders make it easier for residents to be heard.
I believe maintaining a safe environment for all of our citizens is top priority. Whether it is with our fire, police or medical services, we have to ensure our services are accessible as well as maintain high standards. Good roads, sidewalks and sewage systems are important to keep all who live and work in our city safe. We also need to maintain an effective and regionally integrated emergency preparedness plan, well in advance of our next crisis. Bellaire faces challenges with respect to growth that affect its residents. I pledge to study the issues transparently and seek input not only of the “experts”, but also my fellow citizens.
Marie Anstead submitted a 750-word answer to this question, but the designated word limit for all candidates is 300 words (see the Q&A rules below). InstantnewsBellaire requested Anstead edit her answer and she submitted this final version.
I believe our city’s emergency response services (police, fire, medical) are strong, and I will continue to be an advocate to ensure they have the necessary resources to perform the important and dangerous jobs they are entrusted. Having said this, the areas that need the most improvement in our charming city are sidewalks, recycling, and zoning.
1. Sidewalks: Every day there is a significant risk posed to children, the handicapped, and the elderly who are forced to the streets rather than the safety and security of residential sidewalks. This is a highly charged and emotional issue with many residents. What to do? I would support passing an ordinance mandating sidewalks for all locations in our city, not limited to: (a) those areas that would be upgraded due to storm sewer upgrades, (b) those areas only covered in the Draft Comprehensive Plan (i.e., only sides of streets that lead to and from a public area).
2. Recycling: We are losing opportunities for cost savings and added revenue by not expanding our services to all government and businesses. What to do? I would (a) partner with government and businesses to include them in our city’s recycling program, (b) partner with contractors to minimize demolition waste, and (c) expand the current recycling center to accept new streams of waste (i.e., batteries, lightbulbs, electronics).
3. Zoning: I am concerned with the perceived lack of zoning that has been implemented in our City. What to do? I would effect change at city council to ensure Bellaire preserve its’ small town charm while “re-branding” itself as “eco-friendly.” I think that it is imperative that we address concerns such as multi-level housing by issuing strict zoning for this development, zone areas as landscape/green space, build water features, and address noise level from 610. I would seek federal and state grants that would provide for funding of these projects.
Richard Franke submitted a 519-word answer to this question, but the designated word limit for all candidates is 300 words (see the Q&A rules below). InstantnewsBellaire has requested Franke edit his answer and send it back before noon for publication. Please check back soon.
In this series, candidates receive questions twice per week and have 24 hours to respond with an answer that is less than 300 words long. The answers publish with no editing. Do you have a question for candidates about Bellaire issues? Please email it to agrant [at] instantnewsbellaire [dot] com.