Judge Emmett: Katy Prairie Development Should Stop Once and For All

JUDGE EMMETT: KATY PRAIRIE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD STOP ONCE AND FOR ALL Here’s Harris County Judge Ed Emmett’s declaration Wednesday at a Rice University flooding conference: “We need to completely protect the Katy Prairie. Just set it aside and not touch it.” Or . . . what’s left of it. Last October, he called for a third reservoir in west Houston to “be part of a larger project to create a state or national park for the Katy Prairie.” And he wants Gov. Abbott to tap the state’s “rainy day fund” in order to build the prairie pond. (As for where it would go, a 2015 Harris County Flood Control District study proposed several sites, all on not-yet-developed parcels west of the Grand Pkwy. between Hwy. 290 and FM 529.) [Travis Bubenik] Photo of Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Area on Warren Lake, south of Hockley: Katy Prairie Conservancy

18 Comment

  • Wish the good Judge had gotten religion before enabling the Grand Parkway to tear through the beloved Katy Prairie.

  • The think I like about Ed Emmett is that he always knows what’s best for me.

  • Also bulldoze the Grand Parkway. Yes, it cost billions of ill-spent dollars… but that’s sunk-cost fallacy. We’d still be better off spending a few million more to demolish it.

  • Sid, “billions” were wasted on the Grand Parkway….sort of. Not the county’s money. It’s mostly a toll road accept for the Cinco Ranch segment.

    Believe it or not the Grand Parkway was “on the books” since the 1950’s. Probably not as a toll road.

  • Who manages/ controls the Grand Parkway toll roads? I am stumped because I don’t believe it’s Harris or Fort Bend counties. Therefore, I don’t think county judge Emmett is at fault for anything Grand Parkway related. Find the right agency to gripe to.

  • The new Bridgeland HS is built less than 3mi from Cypress Creek. If this is to become a reality if has to happen NOW.

  • Grand Parkway really should have never been built. Billion dollar boondoodgle paid by taxpayers in the middle of nowhere. And also, cancel the planned Prairie Parkway, the next proposed loop outside of the Grand Parkway. My gawd! How many frekin’ Loops does this city need!?

  • The Grand Parkway Seg. E had 2016 traffic counts of between 30,431 and 36,952 vehicles per day in various cross-sections, as reported by TXDoT. Note that that does not indicate the number of unique vehicles, just vehicles that cross a given location. It also does not indicate the number of people in each vehicle. For the sake of argument, let’s say that there are 50,000 total vehicles using some part of Segment E, even if just briefly, with an passenger count of 1.8 persons. That’d come to 90,000 users, approximately twice the number of users of METRO’s entire light rail system as of last month.

    Therefore! Obviously it is not just useless but *doubly* useless. We should reimburse the private investors in order to demolish it, then build it and demolish it again to prove how smart we are. That makes perfectly good sense because we are outraged. We should always do things because we are outraged! That always makes our lives better.

  • It is a good idea to halt expansion on the prairie. There is so much space closer in that can be used before subsidizing more sprawl.

  • Ed Emmett is looking at the big picture. I think he is a practical decision maker and serves as a good example of a consensus builder. Considering the laughable governance we get from our leaders at the state level — bathroom bills anyone??? — he is the only reason I don’t vote straight ticket. He is in charge of a county which is more populous than 25 states and about the same population as the entire state of Louisiana. Our county is an unruly beast and he continuously impresses with capable and thoughtful leadership based on the needs of the entire county. Particularly in light of his leadership during Hurricane Harvey, I say GOD BLESS Ed Emmett.

  • Some people would say better late than never….this is obviously not one of those cases.
    People have been literally screaming at both the county and city officials regarding katy prarie development and flood control concerns for almost two decades now. Now obviously nobody was predicting the large rainfall events we’ve been having the past couple years (i’m probably incorrect here) or should be slighted for not wanting to make knee jerk reactions against development and increased housing supply, but obviously those that are in the know accepted some risk on behalf of the city that has blown up in terrible fashion.

  • @dbghouston……You got to applaud the guy for not getting caught up in petty politics like the aforementioned “bathroom bill”, but rather dedicating the last century of his life (and god knows how many tax dollars) to the greater social need of turning the Astrodome in to a parking Garage! #assclown

  • Concerned citizen: “Greedy developers should stop building on the Katy Prairie!”
    Same concerned citizen: “Greedy developers should stop knocking down bungalows in my neighborhood to build townhouses.”
    You can’t have both. Every house not built inside the loop gets built out in the sticks. Anyone who wants less freeway, parking lot and impervious cover per resident should support increased density in close-in neighborhoods (even their own).

  • @ Joel: The case for preserving the Katy Prairie has historically been made on an environmental basis (mostly to preserve bird habitat), not for the sake of flood control. It isn’t clear to me based on existing regulations on development in Harris County that new development in the Katy Prairie is contributing at all to downstream flooding in the Houston area. In fact, owing to the type of soils and vegetation in the Katy Prairie and its extremely flat topography, new development likely detains considerably more stormwater than the prairie itself would have been capable of; and while new infrastructure is still capable of being overwhelmed by a weather event as extraordinary as Harvey, and while stricter standards could certainly be implemented, I fail to see the logic of restricting development within the Katy Prairie as a flood control strategy. It is counterproductive to that particular end.
    Furthermore, if Harris County (or the City of Houston) does put certain areas off-limits for new development, we need to ask where new housing is going to go instead. Will the areas that get developed instead really be any better off? Will development simply shift further out to Waller County (or out of Houston’s ETJ)? Will Waller County’s development standards meet or exceed those set by Harris County? If Waller County won’t play ball, can the State of Texas realistically be expected to step in and take a more active role in regional flood control issues. I think that we all know the answer to that last question.

  • I’m no big fan of the county judge for his intractable stubbornness about throwing good money after bad on the Dome. But, I will give him big credit for not wasting political capital on the (dumb) bathroom bill at the state capitol.
    I’ll also give him credit for saying that Katy prairie development should stop. Though, it would have been nice if he said and did something about 10 years ago. I think this horse has pretty much left the barn.
    If I had to give Ed Emmett a rating, it would be “meh”.

  • @wolfbrandchili: Seconded!

  • I think that Ed Emmett tells me to eat my vegetables when I don’t want to. Victor, eat those peas and carrots! Victor, eat your dragonfruit. It’s comforting to have something akin to a second father or mother.

  • where in the world are you posting from if dragonfruit is one of the things parents are making their kids eat?