For every expert who claims concrete sidewalks and the
another one who says it does — and who is not on the city
Tech, and Rice University, among others.
description from Proposition 1 of the bond issue – “to design
and construct streets and drainage systems with sidewalks on
Easy answer – you didn’t. It’s called bait and switch. Conceal
City Hall’s backroom plans in vague and innocuous language.
The true objectives are buried in the altruistic slogans — rebuild
stating that a portion of that bond money would be used for
stand-alone sidewalks. Residents were not consulted, advised,
or given that option.
And what about the debt that’s funding these projects, the
been accomplished with that pot of money in the past year-
millions of dollars has been paid to Siemens, construction
continued on the new municipal facilities, and water line
replacement was being performed on four city blocks.
Maybe because those projects would have included new fourfoot
sidewalks, which we now know are not favored by the
city manager, the city engineer, and at least four members of
council. They favor wider sidewalks and higher costs. Concern
Even with that pile of money still sitting there, City Council and
the city manager are working on another bond referendum for
next year – about another $50 million dollars, it appears. If it
passes, our debt will soar to new heights.
Other cities work to pay down their debt, and we just borrow
budget on debt service.
sidewalks on every street, and we certainly have much greater
to promote an image of a city working to improve our aging
event, and to reassure the world that our city is a great place to
live, we have become a city divided.
branding studies and logos, pathways and sidewalks. There
always seem to be winners and losers. Residents talk about
assured to create controversy? How did we reach this point?
Some members of City Council, who spend little time exercising
due diligence or examining and discussing the consequences of
their decisions, must accept responsibility. Add to that, we have
a city manager who appears to be a de facto city planner rather
than an administrator.
that supposedly had been decided by council last December
which has been the residential standard for many years — and
over mysterious and misunderstood stand-alone sidewalks that
we are told were approved in the last bond issue.
sidewalks in residential areas does nothing to improve property
values or to boost resident satisfaction. It just pulls funds away
from our worn-out streets and aging infrastructure.
During the Sept. 17 meeting, after a sensible, reasoned
presentation by Mayor Friedberg promoting his preference
for sidewalks (see more on Page 12), councilmembers simply
moved ahead on their own.
As in an earlier meeting, after numerous residents voiced their
objections in person, via emails, and with signed petitions,
pro-sidewalk petition than on those who showed up to
councilmembers approved contracts for more than $1.5 million
to construct stand-alone sidewalks.
it important for council always to be in agreement, to present a
united front? A closed system isolates ideas, excludes an open
dialogue, and limits communication. It’s a bad practice.
If this council is so determined to continue to build sidewalks, I
suggest they only build them on streets where 80 percent of the
residents request them. Two more meetings on the matter were
scheduled before you will see this column.
I don’t know how this will shake out, but you can hear at council
beginning to take notice. Many of us have long memories that
will stretch into next year’s municipal election.
McNeel, a resident of Bellaire for more than six
decades, runs the BellaireCivicClub.com website to
provide information on current issues. Her email is
Page 11 | THE ESSENTIALS