The fire that started late yesterday afternoon at the Holmes Road Recycling Center (just west of 288 south of 610) is still on the Houston Fire Department’s list of active incidents at the moment, after about 19 hours. KHOU reports that the firefighting has been complicated by the need to cool off the heat-retaining piles of burning scrap metal on the scene, as well as a lack of water supply in the industrial patchwork around Pierce Junction. Hazmat crews reportedly say there’s no out-of-the-ordinary chemical concerns related to the smoke this time, though HFD captain Ruy Lozana did note to KHOU last night that the smoke’s strong smell and darker color is probably from leftover fluids in crushed cars catching fire.
Wind coming primarily from the south and southeast pushed smoke and haze from the fire across 610 all the way to the Texas Medical Center, some 3 miles north. Nearby Rice University sent out an alert around 4:45 warning folks with respiratory issues to stay indoors for a bit — below is a view (from several hours after that warning) of the haze from the Rice campus parking lot on Greenbriar, east of the stadium:
A ‘dozer was sighted this past week roaming across the newly-cleared plains at the dead end of Acaciawood Dr. into Oakmoor Pkwy., just south of Airport Blvd. between Almeda Rd. and a disconnected stretch of Kirby Dr. (nearly 2 miles southeast of where the main section of Kirby halts, on Holmes Rd. next to the intended UT Houston campus). Workers clearing the land last week told a reader that new apartments were planned for the spot (shown above); the tract, however, is sliced up into single-family-home-sized bites in County Appraisal District records. The land sits south of the Oakmoor Apartments, which sprouted up around the end of 2006. The short neighborhood streets on the other side of Oakmoor were in place by 2008, though the homes now lining them didn’t begin too appear until 2012.
In the distance, the photo above also catches a view of the nearby Harbor Hospice Houston Inpatient Facility (to the left of center, behind a brushpile), and the Citadel on Kirby (to the right), which hosts weddings, galas, and corporate events. Across Kirby lies the Houston Sports Park — work on the first 7 fields at the Houston Dynamo’s professional training facility started at the end of 2009 and wrapped up by 2012. The Houston Parks Board is now fundraising to add an additional 11 fields at the complex, which is also open for public recreational use.
CALCULATING THE GREEN FOR THIS WEEKEND’S FREE TREE GIVEAWAY Hmmmm . . . what’ll it be for your yard? Live Oak, Bald Cypress, Burr Oak, Cedar Elm, Chinkapin Oak, Drummond’s Maple, Loblolly Pine, Mexican White Oak, Nuttall Oak, Overcup Oak, Pecan, Shumard Oak or Water Oak? Come to the remote Rodeo Houston parking lot at 2030 Reed Rd. with your electric bill in hand this Saturday, October 26, between 8:30 and 3:30 and you’ll have your pick — of whatever’s left. Trees for Houston, CenterPoint Energy, and the Arbor Day Foundation will be giving away a total of 2,500 specimens in 5-gallon containers this weekend (a couple thou are still unclaimed). You can reserve yours online. A handy satellite-photo-equipped web app is meant to help you decide where to plant your tree and which species to plant; it estimates annual energy-cost savings for each type of tree, depending on where you place it on your property. [Arbor Day Foundation]
This is the rendering for Harbor Hospice, what Three Square Design Group and Camden Construction are saying they hope will serve as a kind of template for similar facilities to be built in Texas and Louisiana. The whole 24,000-sq.-ft. thing will have room for 32 beds and a 5,000-sq.-ft. outpatient clinic; Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon reports that construction could begin as early as this summer. A site plan from Camden shows the hospice going up outside the Loop southeast of Sunnyside, across from the Houston Amateur Sports Park on Mowery Rd. That’s west of Hwy. 288, between Airport Blvd. and W. Orem.
And this one seems almost preordained by the stars: Aries Motel, the last of the City of Houston’s “dirty half-dozen,” those multi-family/commercial buildings so blighted not even Mayor Parker can love them, has been tagged to go down today. The Gladstone St. motel sits on 10,000-sq.-ft. lot in Sunnyside, just west of Scott and north of Bellfort.
On a stretch of track near his company’s offices on Long Dr. in Golfcrest, along Holmes Rd. at Scott St., Snapstream founder and CEO Rakesh Agrawal catches this rail-riding machine in action, yanking and replacing railroad ties underneath itself.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN HOUSTON WAS RIGGED “The Astrodome is ~1 mile north of the old Pierce Junction Oil Field. Most of the area is industrial, but there are homes along the perimeter of the field where Glenn McCarthy, who later built the Shamrock Hotel, made his first millions.
Here’s a link to a 1956 TIME magazine article about the field and issues regarding growth of Houston versus industrial development.
If anyone reads the article, I believe the dump it refers to is now a golf course. There are methane candy canes all around it.
This is to say nothing of the Humble area. If anyone can find any old aerial photos of Humble online, let me know. I’ve seen them in the past and would like to do an overlay of current use versus prior use.” [J Wilson, commenting on House Shopping in the Chemical Discount Zones: Finding Houston’s Less-Toxic Neighborhoods]
More than 700 of the abandoned or problem properties documented and written up by the Houston Police Dept.’s Neighborhood Protection Corps over the last 3 years belong either to the City of Houston or Harris County agencies, reports 11 News reporter Jeremy Rogalski. Approximately half of those properties are located in 4 not-so-fancy Zip Codes — 77016, 77026, 77028, and 77051 — three of which are in the northeast area of the city.
One piece of the problem: those tax-delinquent properties the county puts up for public auction:
. . . if they don’t sell, it becomes the county’s obligation to maintain them. But [Harris County Facilities & Property Management Chief Administrative Manager Jim] Lemond admits, the county can’t even check them all.
“We have two inspectors whose primary function is to do many other things and not this,” Lemond said.
As for the violations the city writes, there’s another problem: The county claims for years, the city never told it about the violations.
“No that’s not acceptable. Obviously that’s not acceptable,” Lemond said.
He added that his office was puzzled when the city did send over a packet of violation notices in June 2009.
“What are these, and where did they come from and what’s this all about,” Lemond recalled of his reaction.
But Montecella Flaniken, Assistant Director of Field Operations with Neighborhood Protection Corps, maintains the city had been routinely e-mailing the county of violations all along.