Buffalo Bayou Charting Project Goes off the Charts

Looks like that Charting Buffalo (as in Buffalo and Lower White Oak Bayous) draft report might not have gone over so well. A popup note shown to first-time visitors to the project’s website, posted just last Friday, dryly notes the entire report has been pulled — only 2 days after it first went out for community feedback: “In light of compelling issues regarding the presentation of certain concepts in the Charting Buffalo draft report, the Harris County Flood Control District is in the process of modifying the report. The District is suspending the report’s distribution, review period and all scheduled community meetings until further notice,” it reads. The feedback period for the report, intended to form the foundation of a master plan for reducing flood damage along the entire Buffalo Bayou and lower White Oak watersheds from the Barker Reservoir to the Ship Channel Turning Basin, was originally scheduled to extend until April 1. Possible flashpoint: the “more than 40 options for reducing flooding risks and damages” spelled out in the report. The Charting Buffalo project was the flood control district’s response to a City of Houston request to “provide land” for stormwater detention.

Map of Study Area: Charting Buffalo

14 Comment

  • Did anyone here manage to download it prior to it being removed?

  • Mike –

    There were thumb drives distributed at the first meeting, and a lot of those folks were associated with the Save Our Forests protest, which posts info at http://www.briarforestsn.org. I hope that the report gets uploaded there.

    I may be wrong, but one embarrassment that should have caused the report to be withdrawn (with credit to the Save Our Forests group for pointing it out) is that the Public Works department is already planning to move forward with detention projects outside Beltway 8 south of Buffalo Bayou, while at the same time HCFCD and the Charting Buffalo project are PRETENDING that they are seeking public input prior to making a decision on such things.

    As I have witnessed time and again over the last 10 or 15 years, HCFCD and those with political influence (in this case, TIRZ 17 and the good folks at MetroNational)have often made up their minds and prepared for a course of action before the charade of public meetings and public input is set in motion. I’m told that HCFCD has to go through with these charades because of federal law. Whatever the case, it is apparent that their heart is not in it. Only with a concerted, broad, grass-roots effort will they be forced to listen to those of us who are not political heavyweights.

    While I’m on a rant, I would also like to note that reports such as the Charting Buffalo report and various drainage studies that get released to the public are never in complete, final form. The Charting Buffalo report includes a number of references to sections and data that are missing, and the report is marked “draft”. That follows a similar pattern to that which you can see in other reports/studies that form the basis for public input. How can we be expected to provide input if you don’t even bother to give us a final report ? Answer: You don’t really care.

  • Destroying what remains of the forests south of Buffalo Bayou outside of Beltway 8 to put in detention ponds to protect the billionaires lining Buffalo Bayou inside the beltway is a travesty. There are plenty of options available that HCFCD didn’t even consider before they wanted to put forward the “moonscape south Terry Hershey” plan.

    How about biting chunks out of the massive lots the billionaires have inside the beltway or utilizing the barren wastelands left behind by abandoned businesses (Dow) outside the beltway.

    I’m glad that the study is postponed. It means that certain people are being made to really think about bad they really want to annoy the West Houstoners by ripping out the one remaining stretch of decent forest.

  • Mike, they passed out flash drives of the entire report at the first meeting last Wednesday night.

    Oldfart, you may be right about part of why the report was pulled;however, people were also very upset over the fact that down the road HCFCD along with help from their steering committee of environmental type groups was pushing for bike/walk trails from Beltway 8 all the way to the Loop. Since there is so much errorsion in the area, their maps had bike paths literally in people’s backyards….including my own. People from Beltway 8 to the Loop are going to fight those bike paths, and access to their neighborhoods from the outside.

  • The Briarforest Super Neighborhood has a good piece of well thought out researched opposition to the detention basins on the south side of the bayou from the Beltway 8 to Hwy 6. Basically the forests don’t need to be torn down to mitigate flooding issues. There is retention opportunities on existing unused land that can provide recreation green space as well.

    See link called “Keep the Forest in Briar Forest” http://briarforestsn.org/

  • Alyce,

    If those houses were built today the city would have a right of way to do exactly what you’re worried about because thats what they did with Terry Hershey, not that any of those owners are complaining today. However, because the houses and people aligning the bayou have enough wealth and influence i wouldnt worry too much about it. Your lawyers can handle it for you, just like they convinced HCFCD that the retention ponds should be built upstream and wipe out briar forests forests to protect your multi million dollar abodes.

  • Lost_In_Translation: I thought the land for Terry Hershey Park was previously owned by the Core of Engineers, which bought it in the 1940s (when there were no subdivisions out there) as part of the Addicks and Barker reservoir projects. The land was used for different purposes (when I was a kid, they let people stable their horses on it) until it was turned into a park. The hike and bike trail doesn’t go through anyone’s back yard because that land never was anyone’s back yard, as far as I can tell.

  • Translation, and that is the city’s problem, along with HCFCD (which owns TH Park)…there is no zoning in Houston, so the building went on. They should have done something 40 plus years ago, but they didn’t. And now you want to take my property, or put a bike path in my backyard? I don’t live in a million dollar home, we’re very close to TH Park, but my neighborhood has been around for 45 years, and it’s not going anywhere.

  • Alyce,

    The COH and COE screwed up by not acquiring proper right of way around BB inside the beltway like they did outside the beltway and backyards are relative (my 15 feet of backyard is a little different than someone elses 1.5 acre of backyard). But in any case, while I see the arguments the people inside the beltway have, I’m not terribly interested in the COH acquiring the land inside the beltway as long as they leave alone the forests outside the beltway. That’s something for the lawyers for the mansions to fight.

  • Oops. HCFCD and other government entities got caught with their previously finalized plans released to the public. The developers OWN HCFCD, the COH P&D Dept.,etc. I say fight the power. And make the Memorial Villages/Inner Loop neighborhoods bear some of the mitigation efforts.

  • The HWY6 to BW8 area has been channelized and dredged and dug up once already. Time for the BW8 to 610 area to have some of the same–it’s a huge bottleneck (firehose into a straw). And many of the developments west of HWY6 drain directly into buffalo bayou–bypassing the reservoirs. How about those developments keep their water out there rather than dumping it on everyone downstream?

  • LTranslation, I am all for saving the forests! I am a member of the Briar Forest Super Neighborhood, and believe they should leave TH Park alone. The fact remains the COH did not have the vision to acquire the land 40 plus years ago that runs along Buffalo Bayou…say from now Beltway 8 to Loop 610. Is that my fault? Should I, and other homeowners, have our land confiscated, or the value of it destroyed for a bike/walking trail? Let alone the access points for outside traffic that they want to put in certain neighborhoods for the public to access the trails.

  • Alyce,

    I’m glad you are for saving the forests in Briar Forest. I hope all owners along BB feel that way. The objection that COH is going to rip up everyone’s backyards between Bwy8 and 610 I think is overblown however because it won’t happen. Even if a walking trail would be nice for everyone and COH amply compensated the owners for their loss, the money aligning the bayou will stop it regardless, of that I have no doubt. So I fail to see the worry that owners along the bayou inside the beltway have of this scenario. The real problem is what HCFCD will do to the ROW OUTSIDE the beltway and where the real worry should be.

    One day (in the long distant future), COH may eventually acquire the ROW to put walking trails along BB between the beltway and 610, but that’s not an issue now. The issue is their plan to destroy the forests to accomodate those downstream for long ago errors. This is what is a real threat and intolerable.

  • LTranslation, I believe most people that live along BB, and even those that don’t, are for saving the forests and stopping the retention ponds in TH Park, but it’s not just TH Park where they want to take out trees to deal with the flooding issue.

    Just curious, have you seen the maps and what HCFCD and environmental groups (on the CB steering committee) have planned for ‘community enhancement opportunities?’ It’s right there in living color…trails all along BB from Beltway 8 to Loop 610. So, please don’t tell me it’s not an issue now when it’s on the CB maps. And while it may be off in the future, I believe the COH would like nothing more than to claim they have a right to take property along BB…for the community good. Everyone owning property along BB will fight them every step of the way.